fractal by Sven Geier, http://www.sgeier.net/fractals/indexe.php
So how did I end up with social anxiety?
I have met a number of people who feel their upbringing and experiences had nothing to do with their developing this particular anxiety. Instead, they feel it’s something to do with the way their particular brains are wired or mis-wired.
In my case, although depression / anxiety does run in one side of my family, I strongly believe that the way I was brought up led to my developing this particular anxiety. It is kind of uncomfortable to ‘blame mom and dad’, and I don’t totally. I believe that families kind of pass down these problems through the generations. Their families damaged them, etc, back through time. I feel it is fair to look back and say – yup, damage done. It’s my job to undo it though.
That’s one reason I think the medical model and using medications is so very popular today. There’s no one to blame, no one to be made uncomfortable, no repercussions. If it’s all chemical, take a pill and be happy!
Well, I’m not the happy kind, what can I say.
In the interests of overcoming then, and not in the interests of blame, I’ll give a quick glimpse of my family. Both parents were from a working class background and propelled themselves upwards through education. My mother ended up being a housewife despite the degree. My father became a university professor. My father especially had to fight all the way. His family was desperately poor, his father died when he was very young, his mother did factory work. For him to succeed the way he did was in a way phenomenal.
However, that success came to some extent at the expense of his family. He was a perfectionist, if something went wrong there had to be someone to blame immediately, he was impatient, he was narcissistic. The world revolved around him, he felt, and my mother enabled that illusion to continue.
I have a very strong will in a certain kind of way. And this father brooked no opposition. He corrected me constantly, he adjusted my table manners at every meal, he told me I looked bad, he criticized what I did.
Once I got oder and started arguing, as teenagers must, he had to win every argument. And he did have superior intellectual skills when I was 13 and he was 40, no question. He absolutely crushed me.
Where was my mother? My mother denies all conflict, and quietly disappears. No help there.
The other thing about my family – they lived the academic life, and this was all they knew. Because they both struggled to achieve it, they love it and hold it high over everything. As part of that, they judge the world very harshly. Well, my father does. Those who have not achieved with advanced degrees, or at least one of the ‘big’ professions, are looked down on. I imbibed this with my mother’s milk, so to speak. So to start with, that is how I saw the world too.
So I had this great mixture of extremely critical and demanding parents combined with a kind of (so stupid) intellectual snobbishness about ‘ordinary’ people who perhaps hadn’t read all the classics or graduated top of their graduate program in physics. An impossible combination.
Plus I didn’t achieve professionally, so when that was my standard as well, I felt an absolute failure.
I no longer share that world view of my parents. But I guess I absorbed so much criticism and judgment that I think the world is now judging me. These things go deep and are difficult to reverse.
Anyhow, my intent is not to cast blame. I feel I need to understand where I came from in order to heal. Maybe it would be easier to pop a pill, as my former psychiatrist was recommending. He really had no interest in my past whatsoever. But you know what? I have an interest. So I will explore my past in order to let go of it.