Why am I the one always left alone?

I exaggerate things in my mind and often end up being hurt by other.

PROBLEM: I am 21 years old and all my life I have experienced things that no normal person my age has, generally. I was sent to a boarding school when I was 14 years old and, since then, I stopped connecting with my family.

I always felt I was a burden, was less loved than my older sibling and, thus, was sent away. My friends in school often talked about me behind my back, including the ones I loved deeply. I was mentally harassed by my friends in class when I was 15/16. People always keep me out of plans, including my cousins. I have no friends right now. There’s always this thing that whoever I care about leaves me.

I had a long-term boyfriend, but the relationship turned toxic, so we parted ways – he kept on writing hate letters to me, but I was never able to write back anything bad to him, so I chose to be quiet. My home environment was a toxic one. Since my birth, my parents were often on the verge of a divorce. Thankfully, they haven’t, but everyday spats between them continue, even today. I am very sensitive, exaggerate things in my mind, and often end up being hurt by others.

I don’t understand why this happens to me. I am a good person. But I am very sensitive and have started living alone.

I always ask myself why am I the one always left alone?

ADVICE: Life can be very lonely and particularly at your age when the natural connections of school and college are ending. You seem to have always been lonely and this has now reached a point where you really want to do something about it – and this is a good thing.

Of course, it takes confidence and courage to tackle loneliness and this is no easy task for you as you say you exaggerate things in your mind, and you tend to interpret things in a very negative way. You say that going to boarding school at 14 was evidence of being less loved. Is it possible that your parents wanted you to get some relief from the constant fighting at home and they invested in your education to help you get away from the tension?

You cannot, and should not, create a barrier between yourself and other people as this reinforces your loneliness

Children in all families are different, with different needs and characteristics and it is the family’s job to meet these varied needs in whatever way it can. You feel that you are the burden in your family, and this makes you less valued, but is it possible that your family (including your sibling) recognise your sensitivity and work to protect you from the world? Therefore, that you get more attention and protection is correct at this time and perhaps at a later time, another member of the family will require all the focus and you can be a contributor at that future time.

Being sensitive can help you connect with people and it is not something you want to get rid of. However, it seems that this sensitivity heightens your self-criticism and you end up believing the worst of your thoughts. You believe that people are judging you harshly and even if this is not true, you act on these thoughts as if it were true. The effect of this is that you assume judgment even before getting to know someone and this is so severe that you might shy away from connection before it gets a chance to happen.

You cannot, and should not, create a barrier between yourself and other people as this reinforces your loneliness. Further, the barriers that exists are partially held up by your fear of criticism and this you can do something about. Engaging honestly with people is what creates friendship, but this can be a hard thing to do. In your current situation it would mean saying that you are feeling disconnected and lonely. Most people on hearing this will react with compassion and offers of connection and those that don’t are probably not worth connecting with anyway.

You have to act as if others will want to know you and by doing so it becomes true. If you give your negative thoughts enough airing you will be overcome with fear and nothing will happen. So, try to let go of your thoughts and engage spontaneously. A course in mindfulness or meditation would help enormously in learning to observe and drop your thoughts. If you were to do such a course in a group you would meet people who are also trying to clear their minds and that would be a natural connection.

Some kind of real conversation with your parents needs to be had as you have long suffered during their marital spats. It would be helpful for you if they could acknowledge that their uncertainty about staying together had a very unsettling effect on you, making you feel that you had no secure ground to rely on. If such a dialogue cannot happen, some space where the issues can be explored, either through individual therapy or groupwork might be very helpful for you. The fact that you chose a relationship with someone unsavoury also needs to be examined and understood. If you can come to an understanding of how you ended up so sensitive and lonely, it might allow you to grow self-compassion and this might lead you to take some action on your own behalf.

Loneliness is the unbearable feeling and tells us that we need do something to make our lives more connected and this is your call to begin that process. Start by being more honest with those close to you and then expand your circle, through work, volunteering, interest groups of any sort, and with time you will find that life is richer and better for you.