I am the Hermit

So today I was really stupid and went on Facebook and whined a little bit about not finding anything fun. Since I gave up drinking I realized that the vast majority of my recreational activities revolved around getting to drink. My favorite restaurants had ten page drink menus with ten or fewer food items. I used to like camping because it was an excuse to drink all day and read in the tent. I was exhausted and trying to figure out what to do today before giving into the inevitable by staying in bed and sleeping until early afternoon.

A friend of mine invited me out for a Solstice event in Illinois at her church. This event is starting around now (quarter to eight on a Saturday night) and is two hours away from me. I assume it will go on for some time, at which point I would need to drive two hours home and get home at like 3:00 in the morning.

I have no idea how to tell this person that I can’t deal with doing this.

My current job is incredibly mentally demanding. I remember a time before I started programming where I could go out with people after work and do a lot of stuff, but I can’t anymore. By the time I get done with my work for the day, I have nothing left to give. Trying to explain to someone that it’s just too difficult for me to drive four hours on the spur of the moment on one of the only days of rest I have is too difficult.

I see so many people around me who seem to have more demanding schedules than I do who seem to do more than I do. People who have children and full time jobs and still have hobbies and groups they belong to. I have no idea how these people do this. I have groceries delivered to my house because it’s too difficult for me to drive twenty miles and deal with traffic and all of the zombies that litter the grocery store. It’s easier for me to just cook for myself than it is to leave the house to find food, which is one of the only reasons I don’t do take-out.

Every time I leave my house I have to carefully plan it out to make sure that I reserve enough energy that I don’t completely exhaust myself. I do this when I have conferences. I know well ahead of time that I have one coming up and I make sure to rest adequately before going and I have proper recovery time once I get home. I have no idea how I used to be able to commute to work. Just commuting from my bed to my desk is a stretch on some days.

Nothing I am saying on here is about people I meet at conferences. I love attending them and meeting people. It’s a relief to get to spend time with people that I feel on some level grok me that I can have meaningful interactions with. Sadly, most of them live too far away for me to have enough of them to justify leaving my house on a regular basis.

I have a lot of local friends who are annoyed with me because I don’t spend time with them. They invite me to do things that require me to drive between half and hour to two hours to get to wherever they are. If they’re in a city, that requires me to navigate a bunch of traffic and find some place to park my car, which can get expensive. Sometimes they want me to drive them places because they don’t own cars because why would anyone own a car in a city. I am exhausted before I even get there.

I was talking with someone about building an airplane. Their hanger is 45 minutes away from my house. I spent half of a day with him driving to several regional airports to visit a bunch of people doing this. It took me over a week to recover from this excursion. I have been avoiding his emails because I don’t know how to explain that spending half a day driving around completely drained me of all my energy and that I don’t think I can work on a plane with him because the drive there alone completely exhausts me.

Sometimes I cancel on people because I know that if I put out the energy to go and do things with them that I will have nothing left for a week or more. If my presence was appreciated and respected it would be easier to justify going, but most of the time it’s seen as expected. It feels like a bottomless pit of need. No matter how much effort I put into maintaining a relationship with someone, they always need more. Everyone else can do this, why can’t you?

It makes me feel shitty. I feel there is something wrong with me because I simply can’t do what everyone else seems able to do. I don’t know if it’s because of how difficult my job is that I have no energy. I don’t know if I am depressed or I have something that is preventing me from fully being able to rest. I don’t know if I have too many projects. I don’t know if I am burned out. I don’t know if it will ever get any better.

I had a severe period of exhaustion about ten years ago that slowly got better over the course of two years. I keep holding out hope that this gets better as well. I think it’s slightly gotten better, but I am still painfully exhausted most of the time.

I am also finding that I don’t enjoy doing the things I used to enjoy doing. I used to go camping and go to movies and do board game nights. I don’t enjoy these things anymore. I find them mentally and physically exhausting. I find that I have empty, meaningless conversations with people who are trying to find an escape from their lives. I used to be one of those people, except I did escape from my life.

I don’t know how people can go out several nights a week. I don’t know how they can go to the movies and to concerts and to Geeks who Drink pub quizzes. I don’t know how people can spend their weekends at festivals and still be able to get up and go to work. I don’t know what they could possibly have to talk about. Based on my previous experience, you don’t do this stuff to talk.

I worry about mentioning any of these thoughts because I don’t want people to think I am misanthropic. I worry that this is simply a prolonged period of depression and if I tell everyone to fuck off and leave me alone I will be regretting it in a few years when I feel better and I am atoning for being an asshole to everyone.

I just know that right now I am tired. I have no interest in doing anything I found fun for the last five to ten years. I just want to spend all day in my house with my pugs working on programming. When I get too exhausted to do programming I don’t want to further exhaust myself by leaving my house and hanging out with strangers doing things that are supposedly fun but I find boring. I am sick of trying to explain myself to my friends who do not seem to understand because they personally don’t experience what I experience. I am sick of being told that if I go on a one week vacation that it will magically refresh me and make me all better. I am sick of people trying to give me unhelpful advice rather than just saying “Sorry to hear you feel lousy.” I am afraid to break off relationships with them because I am afraid of being alone. I am afraid I will snap out of this one day and people will hate me for being priggish and sanctimonious, so I keep trying to make efforts that result in me being resentful and further exhausted.

My friend told me that I didn’t have to talk to anyone at this event. I could just keep to myself and commune with the Lord. Well, I can keep to myself and commune with the Lord just fine from my house. If they do this again and she tells me about it ahead of time, I can schedule it so that I don’t exhaust myself. For now, I am the hermit.