I have always had fear of rejection. I was the shy, booksmart kid, but I didn't grow up with family near my age. In preschool and elementary school, I had many friends. It was middle school when everything fell apart. My mother was overprotective to the point where I supressed my thoughts and opinions because they were drastically different than hers. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere, and after a while of asking and receiving I can't answers, my friends stopped asking me to hang out with them. Since I didn't go many places and wouldn't share my opinions, I didn't have much to talk about. I spent much of my middle school years reading. Why should I even try to make friends; it was futile.
High school was better. By that point, I had two good female role models who slowly got me to open up, asked my opinion and thoughts about everything, and encouraged me to share my ideas with my classmates and teachers. I joined clubs: the newspaper, yearbook, reading competition, foreign language club, honor society, prom comittee, diversity, Bible study, NFB students, ETC. I still had a hard time opening up and letting people in. I was (and still am) surprised when people talk to me and it isn't to ask a blindness or dog-related question. Why should I let people in when they are eventually going to hurt me and leave?
This trouble with making friends and letting people be close continued into college. I found my group of friends freshman year because Stephanie saw me standing outside the ecology class and randomly came over and started talking to me. We sat together during class, and she explained the slides with pictures. Afterwards, we'd go for coffee or lunch since we didn't usually eat before the 2 pm class. She introduced me to her friends, who in turn, introduced me to their other friends. I had classes with them, and we joined clubs together. They were all juniors and seniors, so they left during my sophomore year. That was the time when Valerie left, and I just had no energy for going to talk to new people, new clubs, ETC. I barely wanted to get out of bed to eat, shower, not to mention go to class. I withdrew from mostly everyone my junior year. I didn't leave my room often, didn't return emails, and didn't call people back.
By the middle of 2009, I realized I couldn't stand to live this way anymore. That is when I started the slow process of rebuilding myself. I applied for blindness training; I knew I needed skills for cooking and travel, and I thought a move across the country would help. Being around people who were constantly encouraging, supporting, and having high expectations would be good for me. By that time, I had worked with and retired my second guide dog, and I was rejected by the guide dog school. I applied to guide dogs for the blind in Oregon, where I got Dee November 2009. I started seeing a psychologist, and I went to the GP for other medical issues. I had problems with tubes in my ears, and I was having constant back and wrist pain because of repetitive motion and cold weather. I entered physical therapy and went to the chiropractor.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, rejection. I started opening up to epople more; I told my friends and my boss about my struggles with depression, and much to my surprise and relief, they were all supportive. Not so much for my family who said "what do you got to be depressed about?" I made new friends in 2009, and my roommates and I did everything together; we ate dinner, talked about our problems, and went shopping. I made more friends at blind inc., and if seeing the same 14 people for at least 9 hours a day for at least six months doesn't bond people threw all emotions, then I don't know what will. We learned all of our past histories, our frustrations and tears, and celebrated our small and large triumphs.
I think I should find a new therapist; I quit going to mine because I just didn't feel connected and as if I were getting anything out of the sessions. I am doing much better with letting people know what I think and feel. Now if I could just get find the courage to tell my mother, that would also be a step in the right direction.