Hmm…One of my oldest friends left that message Saturday evening. Does make me feel like Ms Popularity, which I’m a long way from being. But it is true that socially I’ve expanded my horizons a whole lot in the last year. It has taken some effort and dedication, but I think if you really want to improve an area in your life, you can do so.
I’m not feeling great a lot of the time, but I want to remind myself that yes, in the social area, I’ve made good strides forward. Now if I can heal the PTSD symptoms, somehow, someway, the same way….It gives me hope that I can do that too.
I’ve got a way to go still with the social anxiety. I can go to social events now, but relaxing and enjoying myself is still an iffy proposition. I usually feel most at ease if a place is not loud, with no flashing lights. Then small groups are preferable to large for me.
Wednesday I went to a MAD Pride talk with a recent friend who is also taking some time off work at the moment. We went for a tea afterwards, thus making this a social occasion, and I felt almost no anxiety at all. I trust this person not to judge me, we had a lot to talk about, and the bakery where we sat was quiet. He struggles with anxiety as well, so we were able to talk about that topic also. I’m hungry for some discussion of what I’m going through, even if it’s not in detail at all. People who have struggled themselves seem safest to me.
Friday I went out to dinner with three other women. This was also at a quiet place. I had some anxiety, but it was manageable. A lot of the talk was of men – their badness, excellence, how to find, how to get rid of…Well, obviously an endless source of conversation. I did feel some pressure to be outgoing, to laugh and joke and be fun. I wish to be these things, but have trouble relaxing enough.
Two of the women are a lot more extroverted than I am, and sometimes I think that people who have these qualities also value them pretty highly, so if I can’t keep up, they won’t like me. I reminded myself that I have good qualities and don’t know what they were thinking. I did keep track of some negative thoughts I was having and worked on letting them float away and thinking positive thoughts instead. Negative thoughts were what trapped me in social anxiety in the first place, so it was good practice.
I know I have good qualities that make me a valuable friend, even if loud joking isn’t one of those qualities.
We ate dinner at a Middle Eastern place, no loud music thank God. Then moved on to a fancy dessert place, also no loud music and lots of air. After about three hours together, I felt I had to leave, so as usual, was the first to break up the party. So what. Three hours is a long time for me to socialize, so it was OK.
Tomorrow I am signed up for a movie about food, Food Incorporated, and a discussion afterwards. This is with a group where I don’t know the people, so it will be a challenge. Also they sometimes go to a pub to discuss, where it can be too loud for me. However, I like the movie aspect, so I’m going to go. If it’s too loud, I’ll leave early.
So that is my fun and exciting life so far. I’m going to watch the negative thoughts, and keep going out.
Sometimes it’s lovely to just be with people you’ve known for years – like putting on old slippers and settling down to relax. But that gets limiting. I intend to keep venturing out beyond my comfort zone.