Stuck & Cannot Move on.

I feel this is mostly a brain dump (and a long one)

I lost a best friend to a ‘freak accident’ when I was 13 and never properly grieved. There wasn’t the support there likely would be today. I have few is no memories from the weeks that followed but I have been told by my parents that I cried a lot but life just carried on. Our relationship was not romantic as such, we were 13-year olds and perhaps did not have the emotional maturity, but there were definitely elements of a romantic relationship.

I am now 39.

I have never been in a relationship. Throughout my teens I would shy away or purposely avoid situations where anything potential intimate could happen, I would actively not pursue or avoid people who were potentially interested in a relationship until the opportunity had passed by. I have friends of both genders but I have always felt a strong connection to female friends.

I spent years telling other people and myself that I was perfectly happy not being in a relationship, this was a choice and what I wanted. Knowing who I am, my friends questioned this from time to time, but I think I had convinced myself this was a truth and so this is how life continued for nearly the next two decades.
I love the idea of being in a relationship, having someone to share everything with. But the thought of this being a reality absolutely feels me with dread. I conclude that this is likely associated with the fear of loss.

I recently (2020-21) went through a time where my mental health was very poor and experienced periods of depression and severe anxiety. CBT unpicked that the cause was likely the unresolved grief and following this I had counselling, although it was be fair to say I could never really get onboard with the counsellor’s methods (she was quite ‘spiritual’ in her approach). I felt this brought a degree of closure and changed how I think about my friend. But I still grieve, probably more grieving what could have been, and has done little to lessen the fear of lose that I carry around with me nor my ability to take positive steps towards finding and building a meaningful relationship.
I am lucky and have very close friendships. I do however carry a constant worry that my close friends will ‘leave me’ and question why they actually like me and want to spent time with me in the first place. I constantly think people will cancel arrangements.

The friends I am closest to at this point in my life are all female and nearly all either married or in long-term relationships. This is a comfort zone for me. I have female friends who have been single and this has sometimes left me with a feeling of absolute dread that the friendship might unknowingly and very gradually turn towards a more romantic relationship.

I am a very sociable person but this can also make it hard to build new friendships and it typically seems to manifest in one of two ways. It can lead to me being over-friendly in the sense of trying to ‘speed’ a new friendship along quicker than a new friendship should naturally develop, almost like I am trying to skip that natural step of first being friends and wanting to go straight to being ‘really good’ friends. The other is withdrawal and pushing back against a new friendship developing; this can be literally going out of my way to not see a person to avoiding arrangements even when I really want to spend time with them. My initial natural inclination is nearly always the latter but I ‘rationalise’ that this feels a little ‘childish’ and I switch to the former.

From telling myself I was perfectly happy not being in a relationship, I am now at a point where I accepted that I will never be able to overcome the barriers that I have built around me and never be able find that relationship.

I feel stuck.

My grief is 25 years old. I have not lost a parent, a sibling or a child, but a friend. I know I should not belittle or dismiss my grief as being any less than someone else’s grief, we all grieve differently, but that doesn’t stop me thinking that I shouldn’t be feeling like I do, I should be able to move on with my life like other people have.
I believe I have found a bit of closure that I did not have before, but I am still grieving the what could have been, even though it is entirely unknown and 25 years later.

I have had therapy and counselling yet I still have insurmountable barriers preventing me moving forward, preventing me from not avoiding any situation that has even the remotest chance of developing into a relationship, I cannot stop the thoughts that my friends will leave me.

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Hello, you have been very brave writing about your past and present feelings and I appreciate how hard this must have been. I am sorry that counselling didn’t produce the results you had hoped for but it isn’t for everyone and different counsellors many give you what you need. Sometimes just putting it on in writing helps and then leaves room in your brain for other more constructive thoughts and I do hope this has helped you.
Life is hard under normal conditions but when we put up our own emotional barriers then we are not helping our selves and it is hard to remove them. Please don’t think that at 39 there’s no long lasting love for you or continue thinking that the friendships you have will disappear, it is too defeatist. Life is about living not about death, so live for today and see where tomorrow goes.
We are a community and everyone is here to help everyone else and I hope you find peace in your life. Take care S xxx

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