Monday, September 1, 2008

Dinner for One...

"Come on!  You can go!" Wanda pleaded with me over the phone.  "We will have a great time!"

My hands were shaking.  I was furiously smoking a Doral Light. 

"Sorry, I can't," I told her. "I just feel unwell today."

Unwell meant suffering from social anxiety and the assorted phobias.

"Well, I will quit bugging you, but I wish you would come," Wanda said at one feeble last attempt to get me to go and then we hung up our phones.

I slumped deep down in my sofa's cushions and sighed a sigh of relief.  The last thing I could take today was being social at an AA cookout.   The meetings are hard enough on me. 

Many hours have passed and I have what my grandmother always called, "ants in your pants."  That on-edge antsy feeling associated with boredom.   Now, I am wishing I would have least gone in my car and tried the cookout.  That way, I could have left if I felt uncomfortable.  


Jean said...

Just set out to whatever event you're dreading and give yourself stopping points at which you can turn back, or leave. Nobody is going to mind if you just leave, but they may urge you to stay. Just walk away, waving. DO NOT stand and argue and give excuses.

You've missed some family events that might have been pleasant for a few minutes, and then you could have left. It's a start toward a regular social life. "It's been so good to see you all, I have to leave now."
"I'm so glad we were able to see one another, you all go right on talking, I'll see you later," and walk to the car.

Practice at home with Maggie. Promise yourself that you can leave when you need to.

I used to have to promise myself that I could leave clinicals and never go back if somebody threw up. They usually did, and I never left, but I badly needed that promise.

(M)ary said...

sometimes anxiety arises from the internal feelings of "i should..." as in "i should be more social" or "i should say hi and mingle when i get to the cookout and that makes me nervous..." once the i shoulds fill up our mind it can be overwhelming.
i think the point is that there are really very few true "i shoulds" in life. very few things that we really, really need to do. the rest of the stuff is optional: "i coulds" in "i could stay home or i could go, both are valid options." "I could talk or i could spend my time listening at the cookout."

of course, every one of us has a tape loop of "i shoulds" based on our upbringing and our world view. not so easy to sort the i shoulds from the i coulds but once we sort them, i think it is easier to feel less anxious.

hope that makes sense!

Jay M. said...


I understand the feeling. I hate when I do that to myself. Lately, I've been trying to carry out scenarios in my head when I feel like avoiding something that *should* be fun.

a) I'll drive over, see all of these people, have to talk to them, tell them what's going on with work and relationships, have some food. Maybe I'll see some people that I'm interested in hearing what they've been up to. But maybe I'll leave early if I don't feel like being there any more.

b) I stay home. Throw my own food on the grill, or maybe I'll make a sandwich. Have some time to myself. Watch some t.v. or a movie, maybe I'll go for a walk. I could probably get some laundry done, too.

Then I try to ask myself: which one of these scenarios will I be more upset about not doing?

It might seem kind of silly, but sometimes it really helps motivate me to go out and spend some time with people, or go somewhere I don't think I'm in the mood to go at the moment. I usually end up being glad that I went, even if it's only for a little while.

Moonroot said...

Andrew, I don't know if this will help you or not, but it worked for me. I always wanted to be a writer, and when I was terribly shy as a teenager/young adult, I would tell myself that the social event I was dreading would at least provide good writing material. By going along and keenly observing, I became less self-conscious (because I was concentrating on what was going on around me instead of my own internal dialogue). Perhaps you could treat social events as great potential blog material.

Also, I still suffer social anxiety occasionally, and my favourite defence mechanism is to ask whoever I'm talking to about themselves, their job, family, hobbies etc. It's genuinely interesting to learn about other people, you find out lots of interesting stuff and again the focus is taken off yourself. Plus people will like you as most people enjoy talking about themselves!

Please don't beat yourself up about your social anxieties. You have achieved so much recently, and this is just another hurdle that you can learn to deal with in the way that's right for you.

Cheryl said...

You got some long comments there! Mine will be short. We just do the best that we can. You did what you felt was right at the time. There's always the next time to try something different.

Was today a better one? Ants away?