Many of you may be surprised to find out that, for a very long time, I have dealt with a degree of social anxiety. Sometimes that anxiety masquerades as self protection, but am I really protecting myself, or am I just giving in?
As I continue in therapy, I am dredging up past issues. I use this blog as a journal among its many other uses, and so if I were you, I would not be surprised if you see some thoughts on issues that I am examining in psychotherapy come up in blog posts. Some may have answers, some may not have any answers at all but merely be me putting my thoughts out into the ether and seeing what happens. We’ll see how it goes.
At my first official psychiatrist therapy appointment (not just going for medication maintenance), during the course of discussion, I brought up my social anxiety tendencies. I told her about my aptitude for ducking out on experiences that I start out excited for and then, when it is time for me to go out and engage, I instead retreat and often opt out of the experience altogether. I make an excuse: it’s cold; I’m tired; it’s across town; I’m not going to know people; I’m going to get tired; there is going to be all of this or that. I want to stay home with my dog and my cat and Netflix.
Then, more often than not, I end up staying home. Or staying in the corner. Staying quiet. I don’t light let the fire within myself get lit.
Because, when I relax, when I have faith in myself and faith in others, the fire gets lit, and I have fun. People see who I am, not a wall that I put up to protect myself.
This past weekend plus wasn’t easy for me… before I left. Once I was there? Um… I think we all know that I had a great fantastic time! But before? I convinced myself that I wouldn’t get any time to myself, that I would get overwhelmed with all the people, that this would happen, that would happen. Then I went and had a lovely time. I relaxed, let that fire be lit, and let life happen with me a participating part of it.
And how many times has this happened? How many settings? How many situations?
Why do we let ourselves create false future realities? Is this just something that people with anxiety do? I mean, I know that it is necessary to weigh pros and cons and all that, you need to do that to survive, after all (otherwise, you would get eaten by a bear, run over by a car, bankrupt on your dollhouse cleaning business).
What makes me so convinced that I won’t have a good time? What makes me so convinced of a negative outcome? Why won’t I take the chance? When I do take the chance, what is the driving/convincing factor?
Ok, so, say I get there. What gets me to open up? To engage, participate, and put down those barriers that I am so deft at erecting in the blink of an eye?
I won’t go into all of the factors now, but I know that I was able to relax and trust myself and others, to deal with the social anxiety, because I had my trifecta: exercise/activity, food (that I could eat), and Alex and/or my mom. With those three, I can take on the world.
But I can’t always have that luxury. So one issue to work on in therapy? What to do when I have only one, or even none, of my security blankets.
What is your security blanket?
Are you a homebody, or do you deal with social anxiety?