Karma is not punishment. Karma is not reward. Karma is not something outside of you.
Everything you say, do, think, and feel either sets a new imprint within you, or strengthens an existing imprints. Imprints that have been repeatedly strengthened are called "habits". Why am I talking about imprints? Because our imprints ARE our karmas.
So you may have hurt someone because you were being self-absorbed and not paying attention to how what you did impacted others. That creates karmas inside you. Or it is possible that the karmas you set within yourself in previous lives is now ripening and drawing these people and circumstances to you.
Here's the thing:
The theory of karma says that we create our own karma.
It is psychologically healthy to accept that we are responsible for what happens to us, because that is the ONLY way we can have ANY control over our life ...
Also because that creates an "internal locus of control" rather than an "external locus of control" (where we feel that control over our life is NOT in our own hands, and we feel like a victim). An internal LOC helps maintain psychological health, while an external LOC is associated with clinical depression.
So take responsibility for yourself.
Yes, you CAN control it. You have absolute control over yourself. You might not have LEARNED how to control how you are, but that's only because you have not yet learned it. After all, before you learned how to ride a bike, you could say "I can't ride a bike".
There is a BIG difference between "I can't control it" and "I could never be able to control it". Unfortunately, I think you are seeing the statements as being equal to the same thing. They are not.
If you have trouble with social skills, trouble with self-image, trouble with being extremely guarded, I would suggest one of two routes:
1. Start seeing a psychologist, preferably one who is skilled in cognitive-behavioral psychology ... insight is great, but without using behavior modification on yourself, you get nowhere with your insights.
2. Or start practicing Buddhism. I would recommend books/CD's/mp3 downloads of the teachings of Pema Chodron, a Western nun ordained in Tibetan Buddhism, who teaches a very psychologically-oriented Buddhism for Westerners ... and who has turned around the lives of many people I know.
Whatever you choose, you MUST stop giving yourself message of helplessness, or being a victim. You are stuck in it, and until you stop doing that, you cannot move forward:
"and I KNOW the same thing is going to happen, because that's who I am".
NO. That's how you act and react ... and that CAN change. You sound like you are afraid to hope. This attitude will keep you stuck.
I want you to sit down and think about pain and fear. Were you ever afraid of the dentist, of getting a splinter removed by mom, of getting a shot at the doctor's? Have you ever learned to STOP being afraid? When you stop fighting it and just allow it to be there, it stops being so awful, and most of the time it turns out to not even be painful.
Psychological pain is no different.
In both cases (physical and psychological), it is our FIGHTING it that makes it so painful.
No, it's no fun to be in the dentist chair. But you go anyway, sit there and relax into the chair and just allow everything to be and to happen ... then you get up and go on your way.
Approach life the same way, dear. When something bad happens, it doesn't mean you have to "fix" it.
But ... until you can open up to that traumatic childhood experience, and allow that feeling to be there without freaking out, to relax into it even, to feel great love and compassion for the child who was traumatized ... until you can find the warrior-courage to do that, you are kinda stuck in trying to "fix" every little thing that comes your way.
You are only "extremely guarded" because you have not inwardly resolved your childhood trauma, you have not learned to accept it and relax into those feelings ... so you are constantly on guard against any other feelings that you might not be able to relax into.
You make your own nightmares, dear. Time to wake up .. it won't be easy, because you have spent your lifetime trying to hide and run from emotional pain. But just because you couldn't handle the emotions of it when you were a child, doesn't mean you can't handle them now. Find a skilled person to help you handle them. A psychologist, or Pema Chodron's teachings ... or some other source/way/person I do not personally know of.
Good luck, dear. Happiness and connection is there for you, but you are going to have to work to relax into them.