I am not having a happy holiday season. I got sick with what appeared to be a cold on December 6th. It’s the 20th, and I am still not better. I had a glimmer of hope when my doctor agreed to call in an antibiotic prescription. I gave the medical assistant the pharmacy’s number, but she never called it in. You can’t get it touch with anyone or leave messages, so the best I can hope for is to get help on Monday. If I don’t, I will likely be sick for Christmas Eve, Christmas, my birthday, and maybe even NYE.

Earlier today, during an online conversation about health care, where I attempted to humanise the benefits the ACA has for those the insurance companies refuse to help, despite medical need, by telling my very personal story—someone wrote, “Alayna seems to get her fair share of partying in, so she must be OK.”

When I elaborated on my story and said it was wrong to judge people based on photographs put up on Facebook, I started to be accused of being a drunk, and was told that I was ill because of my own bad choices (completely false.). The person painted me as a crazy, liberal alcoholic, and when I mentioned that the friend whose page this discussion was on warned me that this person was a troll who didn’t like liberals, I then got yelled at for repeating something someone said in private. Because it’s OK to think those things about someone, to warn your friends about them, but not to say it out loud or defend other friends who are being maligned. This friend said “He didn’t want to get involved” in the conversation.

Sadly, those who don’t like you enough to get involved..well, they just don’t like you enough, and that’s that. In my world, when someone is being mistreated, you say something. It’s amazing, the number of people who choose to look the other way, or call out those who are being bullied…rather than those who are doing the bullying.

Words hurt, and I cried a lot. Just once, I’d like to talk with people who are on my wavelength, respect my intelligence, and don’t result to personal attacks. When I lived in NYC, I was the kind of girl with a lot of guy friends…and some of them got into fights defending my honour. It’s been a long time since someone has come along and said “Alayna is an awesome person, and you have no right to say those things about someone you don’t know”. Honestly, I miss that.

Two weeks ago, there was another internet debate where people were rough on me, and there was no one to stand up for me. It feels incredibly lonely.

I read an interesting article recently about sociopaths, empaths, and apaths. The premise is that, even in logical arguments, empaths (about 30% of the population) tend to get bullied by those with sociopathic tendencies (according to the article, about 20% of the population) because they refuse to keep quiet when they feel someone is being treated unfairly.

Most of the world falls into the “apath” category, people who don’t want to get involved, who want everything to be peaceful, and want to avoid negativity. So, it’s hard to see people just lashing out at you and judging you, and knowing there’s nobody who is going to vocally say “Making those statements about a friend isn’t cool for anyone to do”. is very hard. If you noticed, your friends made judgments about me and my personal life long after I’d left the conversation. I had no more to say…they are the ones who felt entitled to judge me. I didn’t make personal remarks about their lifestyle or their choices. It hurts when you realise people inherently don’t care whether you are sick or well, alive or dead, after you had the guts to put yourself out there and be honest and vulnerable.

The last thing I need is to feel there’s one more person whom I’ve met that doesn’t give a crap if I am alive or not, and will think, “Well, it’s her own fault.” That’s exactly how I feel right now. Words hurt people greatly.

Now even The Guy I Am Currently Dating is yelling at me and speaking to me in a voice that suggests everything I say is wrong or annoying. From the moment he got here, he kept talking to me in this very hurtful voice that said “I’m tired and you’re annoying.” When someone is crying and hurt because of a bad day and a lot of disappointment, the last thing they need is more reminders of how lonely life can be when you’re almost middle-aged, broke, and single. So, screw December. I’ve spent most of my time alone wrapping presents and mailing Xmas cards with thoughtful messages and trying to be a thoughtful person. I’ve missed two weeks of fun stuff that I planned for those around me, and nobody has hugged me or come anywhere near me during that time. My Xmas trees both have burned out lights. The only time I’ve heard from my family is that my uncle has cancer, and my mother wants to talk to me from the nursing home, but she’s deaf. My friends are too busy to return something as basic as “hello” once I’m not really needed anymore, leading me to realise I only like people who find me disposable. I think this might be the loneliest I’ve ever felt, but talking about it just gets me yelled at and asking for the physical proximity of another person I’ve dated for 5 years gets an angry, “Fine, I’ll just get it over with and get sick.” I feel so amazingly loved and cherished. I guess when you’re not married, “In sickness and in health” becomes “In sickness, as long as I can stay far away from you that you don’t get me or my mother sick.”

I did my part for a happy holiday season, but it seems incredibly one-sided. Wake me up when it’s 2014 and I can figure out what to do with my life and how to be one of those sweet, pretty girls everyone just loves and wants to be around and how to find one of those relationships where someone totally wants to live together after a year because you’re that freaking awesome and not disposable in any way. I have concluded those girls have it much, much easier. I have never, ever been one of those girls. I look at them, and so many of them are plain, ordinary, kind of unexceptional, uncomplicated women…and yet, people love them because they are so “nice”, and they don’t end up with people in relationships that are going nowhere for years and years, because when you’re that adorable nobody wants to let you go. (Meanwhile, I spent 2 years with a guy who was planning how our relationship would work when he met the right girl and got married, 2 years with another who told me I wasn’t witty and after 2 hours, the veneer of charm that makes people like me wears thing, and 5 years with a guy whose mother lives with him and enjoys saying the most hurtful things to me possible, like pointing out that we’ll never live together or get married because he just “settled” for me–and so far, I haven’t seen indications to the contrary.)

One day, I will be so fucking sweet and adorable and unopinionated that you just can’t stand it. I will, of course, discontinue expressing all my feelings and modestly avoid attention in a ladylike way that is approved of by all.

It’s obviously just not today.

This story starts off predictably, with the anecdote “I was on Facebook today”…..

I was just called an “egocentric cunt” because I discussed my shocking radical feminist views (like that we should have rights, not accept rape culture as funny, and both expect to be treated with respect and treat ourselves with respect.) on the thread of an acquaintance who proudly calls himself anti-feminism, and a friend of his (who he called out for poor treatment of women) who apparently thinks women have value as sexual objects and are “walking vaginas” when he meets them in bars and clubs. Then, when I proposed perhaps meeting people in the meat market that has become American bars and clubs is not the best way to judge, where people often do not present themselves at their best, I was called condescending and told I was part of why feminism doesn’t work (by another woman).

Someone in the thread directed me to a website I found appalling, one that depicted “poems” with graphic descriptions of rape, humiliation, male “privilege”, and it is simply horrible to read. I’d post it here, but I honestly don’t want it to get more views, and it is itself a walking trigger warning. Expressing that it was appalling to me led to it being explained “It’s a joke and it’s supposed to be horrible”.

I don’t understand. In what way is rape and humiliation in poetic form “a joke?” You’re not making up limericks here, but describing what it’s like to humiliate and violate others. The fact that the website was sent to me by a woman is even more odd to me.

I may be a condescending and egocentric cunt, but I often feel I am in a generation where I do not belong. 40 years ago, I think I may have been treated differently, had I been around during that time. I happen to be part of a generation that largely does not demand social progress in a time when most of us should be pissed off and fighting, and becomes angry and wonders what is wrong with you when you do.It upsets me that so many my age, male and female, are proud to be “anti-feminist”, claim that “neo-feminism” is tearing the country down, and state they do not believe in gender equality. And of course, stating that feeling leads to being called a word reserved to demean and offend women as highly as possible. Is that funny, too?

It often feels like fighting a hopelessly losing battle; but I look at our society and how so many people my age are unhappy and unfulfilled and bitter and angry on many levels, and I know I’m not wrong. The things the hippies in the 1960′s were fighting for are not so much reflected in 2013 culture. I guess the lesson to take away is “I ruin everything” when I speak (something a woman wrote about my opinions). Not the first time I’ve heard that, but thanks for the ego boost!

I have loved visiting the great state of North Carolina and made some great friends visiting. But I see why, outside of the tiny little liberal enclaves, it is certainly not a place I belong. I imagine the same is true of most of the Southeast, and I’m certainly not going to change society. But it’s shocking that some of these views come from people my age, who are supposedly my peers.

I wonder if we’re slowly becoming dehumanised, and it is painful to watch. (as determined in previous posts, I am an empath and an idealist.) Also, a condescending and egocentric cunt. It’s like being called “mean” and a “bitch’ at a bar because you’re there to drink with your friends, not to hook up with someone who has had too many and feels “entitled”.

Do I think the fact that our society routinely does this to people shows remarkable lack of empathy or interest in building real relationships and friendships? I absolutely do.

“”The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.”—Deepak Chopra

It is kind of sad when you realise that someone to whom you one meant something has moved to a different place in life, and you’ve moved from being a valued part of that person’s world to a space where you’ve become incidental.

I suppose this happens to everyone and it is ultimately the nature of allowing other people to occupy space in your life; friends fall out of touch, relationships end, acquaintances move away, people who once found you intriguing are over it or vice versa. I always take it more to heart than most people, yet it seems to happen more frequently. I am fortunate that I have a very loving and supportive network of people in my life, including many who have been in my life through all the years, all the various phases and lifestyles, all the places I’ve called home. They’ve listened to me complain about every heartbreak, every disappointment, every friend who stabbed me in the back, every sucky job that didn’t work out, every idea that turned out to be incredibly stupid or unrealistic.

On the other hand, I have a revolving door of people with whom I was once very close, and then things changed. It is a side effect of a lot of things, from frequently changing social circles and personal ambitions, to years of polyamorous relationships. I remember once upon a time, someone who once mattered a great deal to me and is no longer a part of my world, explained it this way: “Everyone shows up in your life for a reason and when you need what that person brings into your life the most. When people move on, it is often because you already learned and experienced what you were meant to via that person. There is a difference between love and attachment. They do not always go hand in hand. One expands your heart and the other breaks it.”

Of course, this person was a very insightful Zen Buddhist, and at the time, I became very angry at some of the things he said. It is difficult when you consider yourself an important part of someone’s life, and he constantly talks about non-attachment and solitude as the natural condition of people. I made the mistake of taking his philosophies on life personally, a remarkable reflection on my tendency to make virtually anything about me once my emotions get involved.

I will never see the world through the same looking glass my friend did, but I’ve come to see he is right. Love endures many things, and continues even when a person is no longer in your life. Becoming overly attached to everyone who affects you on some deep level is a recipe for a consistent feeling of dissatisfaction with the human race, and eventually, an unwillingness to invest in anyone at all. I have more than one friend who suffers from the side effects of this “for most people, no attachment is permanent” mindset, and can come off as hurtful and insensitive. The truth is, they are this way because, being too sensitive and caring too much, the world has consistently let them down. Sensitive people are often forced to become harder on the outside, more self-protective. Whenever I meet a jaded, somewhat misanthropic person, I know that 8 times out of 10, I’ve encountered a sensitive human being who has been hurt.

I am shocked by the way most of the world seems comfortable with creating and breaking personal attachments to others. It is ironic, because I’m always the one who is dispensing advice to less worldly friends; “Just because you slept together doesn’t mean there’s relationship potential”, “Friends who only call you when they need things or want to talk about their own lives are not your friends”, “If someone treats you like an option, you’re not getting the love and respect you deserve”.

Yet, although I know these things, it is more difficult when it happens. My attachments to others don’t happen as often (I don’t find a new best friend every week because I am bored, or develop a new infatuation every time I come across an interesting person), but when they do, are less easy to discard. I don’t let my guard down for everyone, and so it affects me when I start to feel as if I invested in the wrong person, the kind of person who didn’t care that much and found me disposable.

Of course, life is not that simple. Attachments and emotions and life choices are messy. Someone becoming less attached to you is not always a reflection of apathy, and it’s strangely taken me all these years to learn that. Not that it matters, of course, since it doesn’t change how you feel about that person no longer being such an integral part of your life. Sometimes, the change is temporary, and other times, it isn’t. It’s all very convenient to dismiss someone who has decided to no longer make you a part of his or her life by saying, “That person obviously sucks, and never cared about me. I’m an idiot for not seeing that and caring in the first place, and for still caring”.

But, while a convenient way to detach from others and convince yourself the attachment is not worth missing, it simply isn’t true. As painful as it is, few attachments are forever. The ones that are tend to go through phases, and are frequently very complicated.

As much as I would like every person I ever really invest in and genuinely care for to be part of my life forever, and to make the effort to show I am important to them, it’s an ideal. It’s an ideal that, when it happens, it’s the exception rather than the rule.

However, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I purposely choose to get close to those I believe are sensitive, substantial, and see something in me that’s worth keeping in their lives for the long haul. When it doesn’t work out that way, it saddens me. I have a history of investing too much in others, and keeping attachments in my life that no longer really bring me joy or help me to grow as a person (Meyers-Briggs claims this is a common ENFP trait; we have a hard time just letting go and moving on.) But because I don’t always make the effort to bond with others in a meaningful way, I also don’t see anyone as expendable. I’m never that person who ends a friendship or relationship with a “respectful” e-mail, simply stops calling, or makes one person less important to me because another person has become important. I’ve never been that person who passes through town without visiting, or forgets to send happy birthday wishes, or stands people up because something came up at the last minute. Sometimes, I fight with people in my life, but I don’t threaten to discard them unless that is what someone really wants.

Unless someone really hurts me in some way I can’t get past, once someone means something to me, it means until we’re 80 and sitting on rocking chairs in the nursing home watching Matlock.

I suppose there’s something to be said for those who allow more people to pass through their lives with less attachment, but I’ve had enough acquaintances for a few lifetimes. When I am old, it is not those people I am going to remember, but those I actually allowed myself to love and attempt to understand, no matter how “complicated” it all got.

Life is certainly easier if you don’t believe much in attachment, and virtually everyone is replaceable. Perhaps we’re not all wired to live a life that is easier. I know I don’t seem to be, and I don’t even wish I were, most of the time.