How Tonia Came to Have No Friends-A Story of Being Socially Challenged

“I can’t believe you stole her husband!”  a friend exclaimed.  “I thought you two were friends!”

Tonia was stunned.  What did they mean, stole her husband?  Lori had called her up Friday night threatening to commit suicide unless she got the man out of her house.  Tonia had repeatedly told Lori he could not come and live with her, while Lori became increasingly hysterical and incoherent.  Finally, Tonia had broken down and said he could stay at her house for a week until other arrangements could be made. 

Tonia had started this job almost a year ago.  The people seemed nice and everything was going well.  One woman in particular befriended her.  Their daughters were about the same age and they had both grown up on the east coast, far from this hell hole in the wall town.  Military husbands had brought them here, although Tonia had kicked her’s out the week before.  There is only so much Tonia could put up with, and messing with her daughter wasn’t one of them.

In the beginning, the other staff made snide comments such as “Isn’t it nice that Lori has her own therapist now.”  Tonia did not understand the comments and ignored them.  She knew people were weird all over and sometimes it was best to not pay attention.  This Monday morning she was wishing she had paid attention!

The story was an old cliché.  Tonia had become friends with Lori, than fallen for Lori’s husband.  She maintained the friendship to remain close to him, worming her way into his affection.  Then Tonia divorced her own husband to make sure she was available.  Poor Lori, so trusting, never realized what was happening.  Tonia was a home-wrecking bitch and Lori was the poor victim.

Tonia tried to explain the truth, but no-one was listening.  Tonia’s world shattered.   How could they believe Lori (who was known to lie often) over herself who never lied.  One of the strange truths of the world dawned on Tonia that day.  Most people will prefer to believe the worst.  Tonia’s life was changed forever.

People Tonia thought were her friends were now talking about her and avoiding her.  Tension was high at work and soon became unbearable.  To top it all off, she was stuck with this man in her house who always came up with an excuse to stay another week.  Granted he was helpful, but she had just gotten rid of one and did not want another.

Tonia found another job and at least work was better.  When she ran into someone from her old job they ignored her.  All of them except one woman.  This woman said she believed Tonia.  However, you could see she was visibly scared to be seen talking to Tonia.  She told Tonia that they would run her out of work if they saw her.

About a month after the incident at work, Lori called Tonia.  “My priest said I needed to call and apologize.  I lied to everyone because I didn’t want to seem like a failure.  I’m sorry, I’ve always been a compulsive liar.  I’ve done this my whole life.” 

“Sorry!” Tonia said.  “Will you tell everyone you lied?”

“Oh no, I can’t do that!  I would make a fool of myself!”  Lori replied.

“Why are you calling me?” Tonia asked.

“I was talking to my priest and he told me I had to call and apologize to you.  He said that I needed to make it right.”  Lori went on, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for this to happen.  It just came out of my mouth.”

“But you won’t tell everyone that you begged me to let him stay here?  That you have been unhappy with him for as long as I’ve known you and have been trying to get him to move for months now?”

“No, I couldn’t.  No-one but you knew we were having problems.  They may think it was partially my fault.”

Tonia could barely restrain herself to saying, “Please don’t ever call me again.  I have nothing to say to you.  You have lied about me.  Slandered me and degraded my character.  I can’t forgive you if you do not tell the truth.”  Tonia hung up the phone.

Tonia sat outside that night and looked at the stars.  She vowed no-one would ever come close enough to her to hurt her this much again.  There was no trust left, this one lie had emptied her.  She was dry, the desert sands blew through her soul, polished it, hardened it.  She still made acquaintances, but never friends.  She wrapped her true self, her feelings and her heart in a place far within herself where no-one could touch them again.

Focusing on her family, she made a life devoid of friendship.  Loved and admired by many, she stumbled along in life alone, never having the strength to open up.  Tonia still worked, still had “friends” at work, but when they went out, she made excuses.  Soon they would stop asking.  They thought she didn’t really like them, never knowing of her weakness. 

There were other reasons Tonia stored herself away that day.  Other hurts, betrayals, losses.  What happened was just the proverbial final straw.  Tonia realized that she attracted people who hurt her.  She knew her great gift in life was empathy and this is what attracted them.  She could not hide that gift entirely, but instead refused when hands were offered.  She had learned the hard way, hands that helped up one minute would slap down the next.

The hardest part for Tonia is she knew…she knew.  She knew that she needed to unlock herself to live fully and happily.  She knew that her heart hurt because of the denial, the denial that anything was wrong.  Tonia went from being a happy, out-going individual, to essentially a recluse.  She became socially impaired.

Somewhere along the way the internet was invented.  Tonia could spend hours and days researching information…often random useless information.  This distracted her more fully from the need to have friends.  She could communicate with others without ever showing her real self.  And when she cried, no-one would ever know.  In a way, Tonia was happy.

Days and years passed uneventfully.  Boring was perfect for Tonia.  Boring never hurt, it was safe, known, and easy.  There were some ups and downs related to the family, but never touching closer than one person away.  She did love her family, their trials were her trials…but other people’s trials did not hurt as much.  Thus, time passed, day by day, year by year.

Then one day she found a hobby.  Along with hopes and dreams, she had given up on hobbies.  Creative expression hurt, or IT didn’t hurt, but it brought hurt to the forefront again.  Once upon a time she was very creative. ..she drew, did calligraphy, took photos.  Now, she found that she could write.  Writing brought it all to the forefront…all the hurt, all the loss, all the pain of a pain-free existence.  But it also acted as catharsis.  It cauterized certain hurts and she wondered if it could go further.

She wrote of some of the hurts in her life.  She (always naïve) was amazed when people responded kindly.  She wrote of a really bad time and found that people cared.  People who did not know her, really and actually cared.    She cried and wished she could break out of the polish she had put on so long ago.    Tonia was lost, she was not sure she could still find the room she had locked it all away in.  That door was polished so well it seemed like a wall.

It had been years since Tonia last cried for herself.  She thought she had forgotten how.  Now suddenly, tears flowed for what might have been, for the “me” she had locked away.  And she wondered, will she ever find it again?  She let the tears flow and decided she would find the door.  Somehow, some way she would find that door and pull it down and let who she once was out.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.  (Like myself)  G-Ma wanted a comment capsule. I love G-Ma and could not deny her any request. Here it is!  Please be nice!

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Comments 29 comments

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

Empathy is the hardest gift to have. My regards and sympathy to Tonia. May she find the door she seeks.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Thank you Tom, empathy is the greatest gift and the most trying. I am sure Tonia will find the door. If she keeps searching!

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Empathy grows, I feel sure she will do well.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

earnest, I hope and pray she will! Thank you!!

mayhmong profile image

mayhmong 7 years ago from North Carolina

Wow, this story really is touching. Reminds me of myself when I thought it was best to keep everything a secret as a child. It feels as if I had betrayed my family, but suprisingly everyone wanted me back home and that there is room for forgiveness.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Hi May! How's the new car? Did you name her yet?

Thanks, I guess it doesn't change as you get older. We still are all just children trying to survive! None of us really want to upset the norm. The most wonderful, and scary thing, is that we all need the same, hope and optimism to survive!

mayhmong profile image

mayhmong 7 years ago from North Carolina

You got that right!

I haven't come up with anything yet!? I naming her Jade or Esmeralda, or Emma for short. I dunno!

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Emma was one of my favorite dogs. It is a good name, she served me well! I have a soft spot for that name ever since. :D

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

How people do saddens me that there are so many who go through life feeling like this. I hope Tonia lets herself break down some of those walls around her.

Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 7 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

I know a person who has locked away his feelings so they don't keep getting hurt. He knows that friendships and love come with risk, but he still shies away from social activities because of his experiences. Though he longs for a deep friendship, he tends to keep things shallow to prevent the hurt that comes with broken trust. The result is he sits here wondering . . . just wondering.

BirteEdwards profile image

BirteEdwards 7 years ago

As I was reading a song came to mind. It has words of "....singing my life with his words" or something like it. That is what you have done with this hub. At least for me.

The strange thing is in cases like this that we take decisions that then have such overpowering impact on our lives. Tonia was a compasionate person, but where was the compassion toward herself?


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Thanks for sharing , the story is told with such depth that it touches the heart.

profile image

Janetta 7 years ago

Trust is hard to gain and harder to give. It is so often easier to curl up inside ourselves then face the feelings we wish to avoid. Very touching story. :)

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Being children deep down helps us keep some of our best attributes. More empathy sorry.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Feline Prophet, I am sure she will...eventually. After all the first step is drilling a hole through the wall so people can see what is on the inside! :D

Tom, Wondering, always wondering is Tonia also. It is the tightrope between the longing and the hurt that immobilizes her. One will have to win out eventually!

Birte, If it is the song I am thinking of I love it. Here is a link to check:

It's not that Tonia couldn't forgive herself, she really had not done what was's that she lost her trust. Maybe I misunderstand you...? I am often dense! :D

Hawkesdream, Thank you. There is a depth to it that sometimes I cannot figure out.

Janetta, You say a very great truth, and I feel it is weakness to do so. Yet, somehow, Tonia cannot find her way out of that curl...even though weakness is not what she lives for. Even though people see her as being a strong and assertive person. LOL, how well we hide!

ethel, You should never be sorry for empathy. It is one of the greatest gifts of life! Thank you...maintaining innocence, being a child is what life is about.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

badcompany, Thanks! Don't you ever get lonely? Tonia has stuck to that vow so long, she is not sure she can change, however, every once in a while she gets lonely.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

badcompany, I know the feeling very well, I also live that Catch22. I guess I am lucky that I have the kids home still, as they provide some variety and make me do stuff. However, my similar scar ensures that company is either a kid's friend or family! Tonia sends her love back :D

mamakaren 7 years ago

I hope that Tonia will relearn how to trust--life is short, and it is so colorful and rich outside of that wall!

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

mamakaren, I hope so too!

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

This hub affected me as no other has, K@ri. Except for the circumstances that brought about Tonia's reclusiveness, this could be me. I, too, spend too much time alone and I have to force myself to get out. Though I just returned from a great vacation (that I forced myself to go on), now that I am back, I am sure that I will fall right back into the same rut (researching useless information all day lol) that I left behind when I went on vacation. When I am out, I so often feel like the outsider looking in and am amazed that others can be so carefree (and shallow and silly and .....) I would not have the guts to admit all that if you had not written this hub. Just like the song Birte Edwards mentioned, "Singing my life with his words...." the second part of this hub was singing my life.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Connie, I love that song...and thank you for letting me know. Maybe we should start a club...I'm glad you had a good vacation, and again, thanks for your comment! :)

kfuentes profile image

kfuentes 7 years ago

Such a sad story. I hope Tonia can find peace with what happened and start to let trustworthy people into her life. Life can be quite interesting without letting drama queens (and kings!) into the mix.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

kfuentes, It was a sad story. I think Tonia is coming around. I agree that life is very interesting without the drama queens and kings! I hate drama... :D

mega1 profile image

mega1 7 years ago

I am so socially inept - which is why I find the internet so great - when I'm through talking I just walk away! no awkward moments, well, few of them anyway. AND best of all, if people are lying to me it matters not much! Ah, but I am sure one day all this airy-fairy castle I have constructed will tumble down. Meanwhile, your story is a perfect example of some of the people I have known who manipulate, lie, cheat and then win! Gaaaahhhhh! happy to have you for a fan/follower and consider me your friend (until you catch me lieing! hehehehe!)

k@ri profile image

k@ri 6 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

mega1, I tell people at work that I am socially inept and they laugh at me...but I do not let many into my real life.

Cousin Mike 6 years ago

I have no idea what to say here, except that I did read this and wanted you to know that.

rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 4 years ago from Irvine

I just completed a Hub on "un-friending," and HubPages immediately suggested the piece you had written. Aside of a few grammatical mistakes, your Hub is pretty solid and definitely holds an emotional impact. The character of your account, Tonia, tugs at one's emotional strings, but I feel that she made her own bed. All of us face similar problems (if not worse) and we overcome that instinctive feeling to bury ourselves into obscurity. I have a sister who has gone from one heart-break romance to the next, with nothing working out -- despite her most earnest (if over-wrought) efforts. Now, she puts in a lot of over-time at work, has a number of female companions, and never contemplates even the possibility of a romantic involvement. Her over-sized TV will remain her best friend for an unforeseeable time to come. I have gone through two really miserable divorces, and yet I married a third time, and this experiment seems to have some glue to it -- as we've been together 12 years. But, all of that aside, I understood Tonia's predicament. Being part of the men's club, I am not privy to confessionals such as the one Lori made to Tonia. Men just never communicate in this fashion. But, still, I can grasp the context and the sense of self-serving betrayal, as well as the consequent distrust of others. But, at the same time Tonia should have taken the experience as a "lesson," not a jail sentence. She could have learned something from the experience and then gone on -- feeling stronger for her disappointing turn of events rather than feeling cloistered. We are all woven of a different fabric, so I do not judge Tonia. I just see it as unfortunate that she did not already possess the psychological tools that are necessary for all of us to take our lumps then keep on going with a new-found confidence.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 2 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Thanks Mike

k@ri profile image

k@ri 2 years ago from Sunny Southern California Author

Thank you.

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