I have always felt that I didn’t fit in, didn’t belong. I have always felt different and from my earliest recollections I was different. I was not born in America, I was multi-racial at a time when being multiracial was not common. I was also painfully shy and awkward. This is enough to doom anyone.
Later, when I was nine my parents moved us to a school in Chevy Chase Maryland, one of the wealthiest communities in America. In order to attend that school we had to use a fake address, because my fresh off the boat family was not able to live in one of America’s wealthiest communities.
In retrospect, I was glad my parents made it possible to attend such an academically superior school, but as a child it made me feel poor, unkempt and not belonging. Because we didn’t live in that ritzy community, daily I was whisked from the order and cleanliness of Chevy Chase to our shabby rundown row house in Washington DC. Because I could never stay after school, I made no friends at that school and the kids from my real neighborhood resented and ostracized me.
In addition to being a wealthy private school, it was also a Catholic school. I was not Catholic- yet another reason to feel like an outsider.
This hiding and pretending and fitting in no where was exacerbated by my sex abuse, because more than anything else, Catholics value virginity and I had had my virginity taken from me. By thirteen I was living separate lives and a total lie. I was on one hand pretending to shield my virginity with all my might and being a cheerleader for the eighth grade football team. Then after stolen horrid hateful sex with my father, I was expected to do go upstairs in my shared room and do my 8th grade algebra.
Because of all of these behaviors I learned how to play “the part’ put on a happy face and then go hide away. The behavior is called alienation and isolation. Here are examples of five different forms of alienation, which I will list, but the best statement about alienation is “People who are alienated will often reject loved ones or society, and feel distant and estranged from their own emotions.” I have often felt this way, and I struggle to intergrate myself back into society and meaningfully connect with others.
Much has been written about alienation, but I have provided a general list of the types of alienation. See if you find yourself or loved ones exhibiting these behaviors.
Alvin Melinda Seeman identified five types of alienation that have been used as starting points for research. They are:
Powerlessness: A person believes that his or her actions have no effect on outcomes.
Meaninglessness: A person is unable understand his or her situation and doesn’t know what to believe or expect.
Normlessness: A person feels disconnected from social norms or believes that social rules for behavior have broken down. This might cause the person to believe that socially unapproved behavior is necessary in order to achieve goals.
Isolation: A socially isolated person puts low value on the goals and beliefs of his or her given society. Isolated and detached people may create their own value systems.
Self-Estrangement: Alienated people may feel disconnected from themselves. In such cases, they may not be able to find activities that are interesting to them
The possible causes of alienation are limited only by the number of ways someone might be able to feel disconnected from other people, the environment, or oneself.
Some possible social causes of alienation are:
divorce or other forms of familial separation
any significant change of environment, which may include immigration, starting a new job or school, changing technology, and other types of environmental complexity
prejudice, by the individual or by others, such as racism, sexism, or ethnocentricity
being bullied and abused
Alienation can also be the result of a mental disability, physical disability, or illness. Possible health-related causes of alienation include:
mental health disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia
post-traumatic stress disorder
self-stigma as a result of mental illness
conditions that cause chronic pain
any diseases that may cause a person to feel singled out or disconnected from others or themselves.
Here are some of the symptoms of alienation which can include:
feelings of helplessness
the feeling that the world is empty or meaningless
feeling left out of conversations or events
feeling different or separate from everyone else
difficulty approaching and speaking with others, especially parents
the inability to feel safe when interacting with others
the refusal to obey rules
signs of depression, including poor appetite or overeating, excessive sleep or insomnia, fatigue, lack of self-worth, and feelings of hopelessness.
This was a long blog with lots of information, I hope you have learned something that will help you or someone you love. I close with this question: Are you lonely tonight? Come out, there are friends out here.
The Addict Writes
“Beauty stops the world on its axis and makes us realize we are One.”