My Fear of Being Alone

Jul 5th, 2011 | By | Category: All Posts, Christina's Blog

Christina Enevoldsen

by Christina Enevoldsen

I wrote a fictional story about a little girl being sexually abused by her father. It was for a project I was working on and I didn’t intend for it to be autobiographical, but when I came to the part where the child was lying in bed listening for her tormentor’s footsteps, it hit me. I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of being alone. When nobody else was around, HE could get me. I wasn’t only physically alone—unprotected—I was completely without an ally. There was nowhere to run, nobody to hear my cries for help, nobody to believe me or comfort me. In the whole wide world of people, I was alone.

To my mom, I was in the way. I was nobody but a trouble-making weirdo. I intentionally did things to get her attention. I shaved off my eyebrows, I wet my pants in church. But she never addressed those issues. She pretended that she didn’t see. Just like she did with the abuse. I was alone.

The sexual abuse wasn’t limited to the night and neither was my fear. I don’t remember anytime when I wasn’t afraid. Even when my dad wasn’t around, the abuse awakened my awareness of how bad the world was. I KNEW evil. I had seen it and it had touched me. The world was a bad place and I couldn’t keep bad things from happening to me. I wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t tolerate being alone, so when I was seventeen, I married my high school sweetheart. Not only was the marriage abusive, but it didn’t cure my loneliness. I had someone there physically, but I was just as alone as I’d always been.

I always had to have a best friend. Being best friends was a mutual agreement to always be there for the other. It was a kind of guarantee—just like I thought marriage was supposed to be.

I was driven to be with others, but whatever the relationship, I always felt alone—as though I lived in a bubble, isolated from human touch. Whatever piece of my soul that was supposed to connect with another person was broken. I didn’t have any sense of self, didn’t have my own feelings or desires.  Not being with someone else made me feel like I didn’t exist.  I had no sense of being without being with somebody.

I was driven to be with others, but whatever the relationship, I always felt alone—as though I lived in a bubble, isolated from human touch. Whatever piece of my soul that was supposed to connect with another person was broken. I didn’t have any sense of self, didn’t have my own feelings or desires. Not being with someone else made me feel like I didn’t exist. I had no sense of being without being with somebody.

To my father, I was an object to be used and to my mother, I was invisible, so I learned that I wasn’t a valid person. I was a lonely spirit floating above the earth, an observer, never able to participate in my own life. Without power to affect anyone with my presence. A hollow being.

I’d tried to escape that feeling all my life through relationships, but none could fulfill me. Nobody could validate my existence. My invalidation came through others—namely, my parents—but my validation had to come from within me. But I’d already learned that I had no effect so how could I have power to make any difference in my own life? If I was my only hope of an answer, then I was hopeless since I knew I was NOT ENOUGH!!!

At first I was angry with myself for not being enough and then I was angry at my parents for pointing out that I wasn’t enough. And then something happened. While I was busy articulating what I was angry about, I realized that my parent’s treatment lied to me. I’m not just an object. I’m a human being who deserved to be protected and treasured. I am worthy of being seen and acknowledged and valued. They didn’t see me as a person, but that’s not a reflection on me; it’s an indication of some fault in them.

Nobody heard my cries, but I deserved to have them heard. Removing my anger from myself and giving it to my abusers allowed me to have compassion for myself. I started to feel the love and affection toward me that they never did. I could listen. I could see my pain. I could comfort myself. They weren’t there for me, but I could be there for myself.

I learned to listen. One day I wasn’t feeling well emotionally or physically. I was tired from overworking and from being around draining people. I heard myself say, “I wish someone would take care of me.” Other times, I’d had that thought and wondered why nobody did take care of me, but this time, I knew I was that someone. I was asking me to take care of me.

I didn’t need other’s permission to nurture myself. I could pamper myself and be as good to myself as I wanted others to be. I could draw limits around my time. I could rest and fix something healthy to eat. That was liberating.

I’ve been slowly learning how to be there for myself and I’m getting better at it all the time. I’m growing in trust toward myself because I’m becoming more consistent in being able to depend on me to fulfill my needs. I’m a good friend to myself.

My parents weren’t there for me when I needed them, but I’m here for me now. I’m really here. I was all by myself one Sunday afternoon and I thought, “I’m not alone, I’M with me.” It was so real to me that I’m a whole person by myself and I’m good, fulfilling company. I’m enough.

Related Links:
My Support System Is Led By Me
How Can I “Be Myself” If I Don’t Know Who That Is?

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and four grandchildren.

[read Christina’s story here]

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23 comments
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  1. Great blog, mom! I can relate to those feelings of being lonely in the past. I was afraid of that for so long. It’s such a relief to not feel like all the time.

  2. I can relate so much to this, but Im still in that stage of “Im not enough” but at least now I know its not true and that I am enough, but I dont know it emotionally, just intellectually…so its not where it needs to be. I hate that I feel like I need to be with other people, or that I need anyone at all, it just makes me angry to need anything from anyone, ever….and I used to feel like I needed everything from everyone because I was incapable of taking care of myself, but that was not true, but I cant do EVERYTHING on my own either, its just as bad, in the opposite extreme. Im so sick of second guessing myself about everything because I doubt my abilities to accomplish what I want/need in my life in so many areas, and I dont want to admit that to anyone, because everyone thinks Im doing so great and am healing so well and I still dont trust myself or my thinking or my actions to really be the appropriate ones for what I need/want, and it makes me angry that Im not “getting better” because I just want it to all disappear and I want to be okay with me, a nd feel that Im enough, and I dont and its not okay, not at all.

  3. Christina, as I read this blog all the feelings of being alone and trapped by my abuser came to the surface and I too felt the feelings of there was nowhere to run to, the memories flooded back. . I too married an abuser and craved being taken care of. I too wanted compant and to not be alone because with that aloneness comes the feeling of terror and helplessness of a child and that child is me. The only way I truly felt safe was when I was alone but the craving for people was very strong. I do like being alone now and the ability to think and enjoy simple things is so wonderful. Being alone helps me to focus on me and not have to take care of others needs which always seemed to come before mine. Learning to be there for ourselves is a good thing but it means looking at the inside of us and growing up our inner child. I am glad to be alone or with people and either way, I find the time to take care of me. I think at first I was scared and thought I couldn’t trust myself but I learned that I am the one person I can trust more than anyone else and it is good to trust me. Thanks for sharing your journey and the good things that come with it!

  4. Excellent post Christina!
    I too found that at the end of “the day” it was up to me to take care of me. It was overwhelming at first. It is very hard to be a child who was never valued or loved in the true definition of love, and realize that they are not going to change and finally love me. I had to do the things for me that were never done for me before. I had to learn how to take care of me and love me. AND I was surprised to find out that it was indeed liberating, as you say! Emotionally I grew in ways that I never expected when I learned to be there for myself. Today I know that I will always have me! I don’t feel so lonely anymore. I don’t feel so valueless anymore because I established MY OWN value and I don’t need someone to affirm or confirm it anymore. I am enough too!
    Hugs, Darlene

  5. Bethany,
    Thanks, Sweetie! I agree that it’s a relief not to feel that way anymore. That fear is part of what drove both of us to such unhealthy relationships in our adult lives. Yay for independence from abusers!
    Love, Mom

    Amira,
    Your comment about everyone thinking you’re healing so well and doing so great and not wanting to admit how far you still have to go is something I’ve felt, too. I wrote about it in my last blog. I was afraid they’d withdrawal their support if my healing didn’t go faster. But my healing isn’t for them, it’s for me and I need to go at the pace that’s comfortable and healthy. I know I’m making progress no matter how long it’s taking and now I’m happy with that.

    I can also relate to knowing in your head and not in your heart that you’re enough. But knowing in your head is a good start. Thanks for sharing!
    Hugs, Christina

    Linda,
    Yes, I like being alone now too and having the space to take care of just me. I get to enjoy my company and it’s quite nice! Thanks for sharing part of your journey, too!
    Hugs, Christina

  6. Darlene,
    Your comment about growing in ways you never expected when you learned to be there for yourself really resonated with me. I feel as though my capacity to face things has grown. I have a new strength. It’s been coming slowly and I progress in my ability to be there for myself all the time, but I’m committed to this person in me like I never was before. Wow! That felt good to say. I’m committed to me! I don’t want to get away from myself like I used to feel desperate to do. Yay!
    Hugs, Christina

  7. Wow, great blog and so much truth. I’ve read books and blogs on being isolated, but reading this is the first time that “being alone” really hit home. I tried most of my life to not be alone and in doing this, I tried to fill that loneliness with toxic people. But now, I never feel alone because I am learning to enjoy my company.

    Thanks for a great truth!!! Patty

  8. Patty,
    Settling for toxic people was part of my experience too. I was desperate plus I didn’t think I was worthy of any better. I didn’t have a good relationship with myself so that effected every other relationship, even when the other person wasn’t unhealthy. Then I couldn’t enjoy it anyway since I was so afraid they’d leave me, so I’d put on masks to try to perform for them so they’d love me. So exhausting! Aren’t you glad we can channel our energy on other things now?
    Hugs, Christina

  9. This sounds so familiar. I was alone for so many yrs. I didn’t really have any friends or anyone to talk to. I learned how to survive by being alone.
    I thought is this how it’s gonna be. It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I started to ponder friendships. I have had some good friends & have had my share of people that hurt me.
    I’ve been in therapy for about 28 yrs now & I am at the point of realizing that I deserve to be treated kindly
    & that it is better to be alone than to be in unhealthy/toxic relationships. It can be lonely but it is somehow possible to find healthy relationships. I left my entire family 15 yrs ago after confronting my parents. My siblings said nothing happened. I was tired of my truth being denied & being treated like I was crazy.
    I left with no word & moved across the country to start over.
    I & all the survivors out there NEVER EVER deserved any of the abuse. It infuriates me that we have to suffer the rest of our lives & the abusers sit there in denial.
    Survivors may have started out in the world alone & hurt be WE ARE iNCREDIBLY STRONG HUMAN BEINGS THAT DESERVE HEALTHY LOVE, HAPPINESS, AND KINDNESS. Loving ourselves is so important.

  10. Wow. Christina, you are opening doors in me I thought were closed, locked, spider-webbed forgotten. Thanks for bringing in the light.

  11. “My parents weren’t there for me when I needed them, but I’m here for me now. ”

    That says it all. Amen.

  12. Cheryl,
    One of the main effects of abuse is the dysfunctional relationship with ourselves based on the false identity we are left with. But through facing the lies abuse told us about ourselves, we can find our true selves so we can enjoy a healthy Self relationship. Then other relationships seem to fall in order. I’m so glad you’re seeing that you deserve better. Just as you said, “Survivors may have started out in the world alone & hurt be WE ARE iNCREDIBLY STRONG HUMAN BEINGS THAT DESERVE HEALTHY LOVE, HAPPINESS, AND KINDNESS. Loving ourselves is so important.” Yes!
    Christina

    Catherine,
    Yay! I’m loving all your commenting on the different blogs. So glad you’ve joined us!
    Christina

  13. Thanks for the comments. I left my family over 20 years ago, and when I came back – only be EMAIL (when my mother was dying) – NOTHING had changed. The attacks started all over again, with the worst ones by my sisters, one of whom is married to a pastor at Bowie Methodist Church in MD. I won’t go into the horrendous details, but I never saw or spoke to my mother before she died, and I hadn’t seen her in 25 years. She keep the stories about me going after I confronted both of my parents by letter 25 years ago. Then my sisters took up the cudgel and sword. It’s been awful but I WILL SUCCEED. More than survive, I will find a way to SHINE. Love this blog. Couldn’t do without it.

    Your friend Catherine Todd

  14. I commend you, Christina, for figuring things out pretty much on your own early enough to not have a ruined adulthood. Some of us put up with ourselves and accepted/tolerated the unhappiness as normal. I was lucky enough to be hit by a lead balloon, finally, when I was 39, THEN I got it. Go, girl!

  15. Marisa,
    I’m so glad to have found the tools to heal. I’ve been at this healing thing for over twenty years, but I didn’t discover what really worked very well until after I was 40. But all this restoration I’m doing sure makes me feel younger!
    Christina

  16. I’m 61 years old and STILL at it (trying to put all the broken pieces back together). I come from a large family – 10 people – and most if not all of them have gone after me one time or another, and some still send hate mail 20 years later. I stayed away for more than 20 years and when my mother was dying made the mistake of trying to have contact. It’s been two years and the poison is just starting to abate. I hope she’s in heaven seeing the heartache and destruction she has caused, and how she taught all the children to hate me as well… I don’t know if it was worth it in the end to her to try to destroy me to keep her marriage “intact,” but she made a deal with the devil. And so have the rest. I am STILL looking for ways to heal. But so glad to read everything here… “getting hit by a lead balloon” is a great way to put it. I think that’s what has hit me during and after my mother’s death. I waited ALL MY LIFE for RECONCILIATION to occur – after all, who DOESN’T reconcile on their deathbed? The family I grew up in.

    Lucky for me, I got out when I was sixteen years old, but I’ve been “running away from home” ever since. Even though I left legally as an emancipated minor – went to court and all – but counted the days until I could leave and it’s a huge part of my interior formation. Just like stalagtites and stalagmites in a deep dark cave. I’m going spelunking with a bright light and a bottle of water, and I’ve been digging my way out for over 40 years. The mine caved in but I am still alive.

    My mind caved in but my Spirit is still alive. And Free.

  17. Catherine,
    I don’t think I’d value a deathbed reconciliation even if it was offered. It’s how my family treats me while they are alive and kicking that tells me where their hearts really are. My brother sided with my parents and abusive ex-husband. At first, I thought he was fooled by them and if he only knew my side of the story, he’d be supportive of me and my daughter. But the truth is that people believe what they want to believe. If they don’t care about the truth, if they don’t love the truth, they won’t seek it out and won’t believe it even when they are presented with hard evidence. My brother sat in the courtroom and heard my ex admit to molesting my daughter, but he still took his side. No amount of poison from my mom and dad did that to him. My brother isn’t a victim of their deceit; he’s a willing party.

    It’s hard to imagine that out of my family of origin, I’m the only healthy one. I alone escaped from that system and there’s no way I want back in. They think I’m the crazy one, but I know the truth; the way they act is insane and I want no part of it. I’m glad their rejection spit me out. It was the safest thing for me. They meant it for harm, but it turned out for my benefit.

    Christina

  18. Christina, Wow. You said it all. I never thought of things that way. You wrote:

    “I’m glad their rejection spit me out. It was the safest thing for me. They meant it for harm, but it turned out for my benefit.”

    Amen. I will think about this for a long, long time. Everyone says I’m “the only one worth anything in the bunch,” and I always say it’s because I got away when I was sixteen… and haven’t been around them in over 20 years, but there’s always that part of me longing for friendship and family with sworn enemies. I do the same thing with the bullying, nasty neighbors in my neighborhood… I avoid them like the plague but constantly feel bad that they are not “friends” with me even though they aren’t “friends” with ANYONE. They fight with EVERYONE. But of course I want things to be different with me. For me.

    I will have to find a way to come to terms with the hatred and the “haters” in this world. Black people understand that people are actually just “haters.” They are full of them and aren’t afraid to show it. White people are raised to have a smile on their face with a knife behind their back, and I’ve never learned how to deal with that. Especially when it’s your own mother and sisters.

    But I WILL learn to deal with this and understand it and accept it or overlook it or something… when the day comes that I can believe that I am WORTH SOMETHING, even if ONLY TO ME. And to many other people who are kind and good and generous, who I am happy for but still miserable with my own mentality.

    It’s my mind I have to change. I ask God every day to help me survive. Help me find Peace and “forgive them Lord for I can’t do it myself.” It’s enough for God to “forgive.” It’s not my job. But I can “put it in God’s Hands” and that’s where it should stay. I can’t do anything on my own about other people. I can only ask God to give me peace. And peace I shall continue to try and find, even as I try to find out how to stand up for my self in a kind and loving way. I shall overcome.

    I love this blog. Wish I had found it years ago. Thanks to everyone here… you are making all the difference in the world! IN THE WORLD.

  19. Christina, you wrote:

    “Settling for toxic people was part of my experience too. I was desperate plus I didn’t think I was worthy of any better. I didn’t have a good relationship with myself so that effected every other relationship, even when the other person wasn’t unhealthy.”

    Amen. This sounds like me practically my whole life. It’s only now, in my 60’s, that I am learning that I am my own friend. Not yet quite “best” friend, but getting there. I can do my work which I LOVE and not be bothered by anyone, and interact when I please. That’s enough for now… but I can say this because I have been able to “stabilize” with a best friend at home and a best friend outside. Cutting out everyone else – at least in the beginning – and finding old, good friends via the internet, has changed EVERYTHING.

    Now I can start making the inside and outside match.

    NO MORE “SETTLING” just because I was so lonely. Now I am full. And I ask God every single day to “Heal those wounds that will not heal, and please show me The Way.”

    Late at night it doesn’t seem to be working, but in the bright light of day I seem to be more OK.

  20. Re-reading this blog. Christina wrote:

    “One of the main effects of abuse is the dysfunctional relationship with ourselves based on the false identity we are left with. But through facing the lies abuse told us about ourselves, we can find our true selves so we can enjoy a healthy Self relationship.”

    “One of the main effects of abuse is the dysfunctional

    relationship with

    ourselves

    based on the false identity

    we are left with.”

    I’m going to start looking at this. I am not a big ZERO any more. I was given this “false identity” from birth on, from my mother and all my sisters that she trained so well. Plus my father, but I could fight back against him. It’s the females in my life that has caused the most destruction at this point. I’ve pretty well gotten over (!!) what “men” did to me. Now it’s time to finish the rest.

    My relationship with My Self.

    Gracias, amiga.

  21. I am very thankful for this blog & meeting such strong, courageous people. Thsi is the 1st time that I have met other people that have confronted & LEFT their biological familes like myefl. Do you realize how strong & brave we are. I’m sorry for those that have been treated badly by siblings in denial. You do not have to accept that behavior. They are not going to change. They are the SICK ones feeding us lies about ourselves.
    WE ARE THE HEALTHY, SANE PEOPLE IN OUT FAMILIES.WE KNOW & CONTINUE TO TELL THE TRUTH.
    So, we have to undo the lies that our abusers & families in denial have told us.
    Learn to love & accept ourselves & attract healthy & loving people in our lives. That takes a lot of work .
    I have been in therapy over 25 yrs & am seeking a therapist now that will help me to heal not just cope with
    all of my stuff. I am hopeful.

  22. Dear Cheryl,

    Thank you for your comments! Means so much to read them…

    I was in therapy for YEARS and one or two helped me, but most just cost me money really for nothing. All they did was listen to my problems and not one had any real answers. Now that we have the internet I can work on my writing, and reading with others experiences, and this is how I am beginning to finally heal. That, and all the marvelous books on Amazon that I’ve been able to find and read and review and write comments and have discussions and more. That’s helped me more than one hour once a week for a bunch of b.s. that psychiatry has fed it’s students over the years.

    Freud was the one who denied that incest ever happened, and stated the child was “acting in a seductive manner” or the teenager was “having sexual fantasies about her father.” This attitude did not change until a femaie psychiatrist, Dr. Susuan Forward, came forward with her own tale of sexual abuse and the profession tried to drive her out. She also helped changed the laws regarding psychiatrists who were charging their “frigid” patients for “therapy” and having sex with them. I despise this profession, and the best thing that ever happened to me was Sonja Schoenwald, a psychology student at Duke University, who tried to have me committed for being a “suicide risk” BECAUSE I had been abused. I couldn’t believe it. When I took her to court I had to take the entire profession to court as well. But I put them all on the stand and their crazy destructive beliefs (if I was 40 years old and had never attempted suicide, how could she “diagnose” me as a suicide risk? She said I was “genetically predisposed.” She lied about so much in her therapy notes I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them in the court hearing. It really cleared the veil from my eyes about PAYING FOR HELP from people who profit from other people’s suffering.

    It was really hard not having a therapist for quite some time, but then along came the books and the internet and I learned how to pray. I ask God every day to forgive those abusers, including my family and the Schoenwald’s of the world, because I can’t do it, and nor should I have to.

    God will forgive and I ask God to heal MY wounds. Those wounds that will not heal. I ask God to heal my wounds and give light and life to my indestructible spirit once again.

    Please God show me The Way.

    Amen.

    “So, we have to undo the lies that our abusers & families in denial have told us.”

  23. Your article “My fear of being alone” really resonated with me because I feel that way too.
    I have struggled to recover from sexual abuse and I find it difficult to get close to people and feel lonely all the time. Even when I am surrounded by friends I feel distanced from them. I get really tired and stressed out when people try to get close to me then feel lonely because I am not!
    Its like I am torturing myself.
    It is destroying my marriage because my husband has had enough of me being this way. He insisted that I get help to recover from my abuse and we are living apart. Then when we are together he takes one look at me and says that I havent changed and I know that it is true.
    I want to love and be loved but am afraid to let my husband or anyone else get too close in case I am hurt again.

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