Socially Anxious and Judgemental

I’m anxious rather than shut down and numb. At least it’s a change. It’s actually easier to get things done in this state than in a numb state, up to a point.

I guess I feel wrong and bad somehow. Ron has not replied to my email. It’s unusual for him not to reply when I specifically ask, and yes, I sent another last night asking for a reply. I thought he’d said he wasn’t going away this weekend. His email goes right to his phone, so he’ll have received my messages.

I’m trying to breathe and leave lots of space around the feelings of fear and anxiety.

I had a pretty good day in that I’m no longer sick, and not tired from working, and the therapy hangover has worn off. I went to some vintage furniture stores, and pretty quickly bought two items I’ve been needing for a long time – a teak coffee table, MCM, and a small pair of teak shelves, also MCM. I’m wanting small and lightish furniture, as I live in a walk up that twists and turns, no elevator. I’ve lived here four years, and never really bought furniture, so this is really good. They were a few hundred each – comparable to the more pricey IKEA maybe. I hate IKEA. I get overwhelmed in the giant store, by the hugeness of it. Then I’m crap at trying to put the stuff together. Plus my car is so tiny, I can’t fit anything into it.

I like that I got wood furniture, not particleboard, and it’s been previously used, so I’m not adding to the garbage of the planet at least for this one time. I like supporting a small local business instead of huge corporate IKEA. It’s good. Since I’ve been too overwhelmed to spend any money, I have the funds to buy a bunch of stuff at once if I need to.

Like I said, anxiety is much better for getting stuff done.

Tonight I went to my 12-step group. I feel really anxious about that also – it did not calm me down. I haven’t made any good connections there, and no one approaches me to talk at the break or after. Another woman I happen to know just started going, and always people want to talk with her. She’s young and attractive, but also, she has a better manner. Well, obviously I’m jealous. Which is stupid.

There is a huge variety of people there and it’s quite a large group, maybe 20 or more. Everyone shares who wants to for a few minutes. In my mind I break them up into basically fine with a few small complaints, and pretty much psychotic with stress and issues coming up. I’m in the second group. The first is very much larger, and they really like each other. In the second group, we kind of recognize each other, but I don’t speak to them either.

I think what I shared didn’t make tons of sense. I spoke about the new job starting, just mentioned it. Then about how I struggle with dissociation, and with recovering from therapy. And how I need the dissociation to cope with work and stuff, but at the same time, I’m trying to heal it. Something like that. Which would make no sense to anyone who doesn’t have those issues, probably.

I did feel quite teary eyed after I’d shared, as I’m not used to telling anyone about dissociation issues. Then, after a few minutes, I totally came out of that and felt more angry and pissed off and judgemental. So many people seemed to be talking in a way designed to get others to like them. How grateful they were to be there. About their higher power. I don’t know. I felt so out of it.

At break, I forced some people to chat with me – that is, I talked about our coffee cups with one really shy man, and asked another person sitting beside me if they’d been away. I was frantic to have some connection with someone, but it felt a bit forced. I was anxious and that doesn’t make for good conversation. Anyway.

After the meeting, I felt so bereft that everyone was chatting, and no one wanted to talk with me. But. I could have stayed a bit and just challenged those feelings of no one wanting me. I know those are old feelings. Am I really sure no one could relate to what I shared? Anyway – could I relate to what someone else shared? Mostly not so much to tell the truth.

Actually there is one older man whom I tend to want to talk with and I don’t. He told his story one night, and there were similarities to my own. He said he’s going to a trauma therapist, and I’d love to talk to him about that a bit. And he just seems – smart and grounded basically. Plus he’s older. The young people there are more difficult – they have such different concerns, and want to talk to others their age.

I think my fear of being ostracized came up. That’s why I was frantically making small talk in the break. I remember the feeling of being ignored, and I just would do almost anything to prevent that happening again.

Then at the end of the meeting, it was as if my fears came true. No one wanted to talk to me, so I felt I had to leave as soon as possible to cut off the experience. When maybe it would have been good to take my time, to see if it was really true. It may not have been. Maybe something about my expression puts people off sometimes, could be. I’m definitely not a cool thirty something with issues that I can explain at length, comfortable and able to speak and explain myself. OK, I’m having trouble with empathy and self-esteem and a bunch of stuff obviously.

Anyway. I’m looking forward to my coffee table and shelves being delivered, hopefully next week.

  1. leb105 said:

    Hi E, good for you for going out despite your fears – you were so courageous to do that. As in, tell me how that works out. Wonderful that you got yourself to the meeting despite ambivalence, and took a big risk and shared your personal perspective, and that as a result, you maybe got present and felt your feelings, instead of numb! Good for you! And that there’s someone there that _you want_ to talk to – I hope you will, soon.
    I recognize this part of your psychology, that you constantly switch between your perspective, what YOU feel, and what you (can only) imagine is other people’s perspective (Ron’s, the meeting), or how you look/sound to other people. I think we both had to worry a lot about the effect we had on people very important to us, had to read almost invisible signals, how not to make them angry, or how to keep them from rejecting us – so it’s protective to be very attentive to that. However, that imagined perspective is always harshly critical – you never imagine that you’re loved by all! It’s hard for you to consider un-related reasons for missed connections – it’s always because you are unlovable. It’s hard to witness how this inner critic beats you down when you’re already struggling. It doesn’t know how to make things better, it’s not helpful at all. Follow your inner voice and it will get stronger and more confident. That’s what I’m hoping to do, too.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Laura for the kind comment. My social anxiety issues are so huge, I can’t really know what is actually happening, and the group becomes one huge trigger for me. What you say makes a lot of sense and I read it over several times. And it’s true – it is hard for me to go, so I’m already doing well to make it in the door of that meeting.

      Yeah, the harsh inner critic – is a problem. I was thinking I should quit because I hate the group and it seems humiliating to have been going so long without really making any connections. However. There are two people there who make a point of being kind to me, so I can let them do that and try to relax.

      • leb105 said:

        It seems as if all the harsh inner critics in the room could have their own separate meeting, and give everyone a night off!! Like offering childcare – just drop off your critic – have fun!
        If you followed your interest in a person or two there, it might keep you from focusing on what seems like a mass lack of interest in you, by others.
        Does the rule inhibiting talking about what people have shared make it seem as if no one heard, understood, or is interested?

        • Ellen said:

          Critic child-care – sweet idea. πŸ™‚

          Maybe I will try to talk to people I feel drawn to, rather than who happens to be sitting beside me. Though if they reject me, that is then more hurtful of course.

          Maybe the rule does that. I’m not sure. I’m pretty clear it’s a rule, and not about me. That rule also provides safety, as I know I won’t be criticized or probed. Cheers

  2. I really dread going to a group where I don’t have someone I already know fairly well there with me. I think it’s so hard! I always want to make connections, but I am not sure who is the right person to talk to, and I am sure I’m overly sensitive if I don’t get a chatty response (never mind the other person may be feeling exactly the same way).

    I think that was great advice Laura gave you, that when you think about how others see or hear you, it’s too easy to assume the most negative interpretation there is. In fact people might be thinking, that woman sounds smart and interesting. She’s quiet though and left early, so maybe she doesn’t want to talk to anyone… Anyway, ultimately, the important piece is not what others are thinking, but rather what are you getting out of being there? Is it helpful (at least much of the time)?

    This last part is a really big piece for me to work on, judging something through my own eyes, instead of judging what I imagine others are seeing. It’s hard to change that, I know. Practice, I guess. Like everything else, it is about practice, so we can replace old habits with new ways of thinking.

    It’s great you went even though it was hard for you. It’s great you made small talk with people. These are brave things to do.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, it is hard. I agree it’s good to stop worrying what people think. Just…I have been ostracized by groups before. Something about group dynamics. So the suggestion that it’s happening again scares me. Judging through my own eyes is a good thing to do. Thanks for the encouraging comment.

  3. I think your brave to go to the 12 step group. I’m not sure I could share in a big group like that. I hope you enjoy the furniture. It sounds lovely. XX

  4. Rachel said:

    The furniture sounds beautiful – glad I am not the only one to become overwhelmed at IKEA, both the store and assembly. I significantly failed at both attempts to build IKEA furniture and have since resigned. Sorry the social anxiety is such a bear right now. I respect your willingness to continue to put yourself in that position, I know it isn’t easy to keep going back.

    • Ellen said:

      We’re IKEA failures – lol.

      Thanks Rachel

      • Rachel said:

        Ha, indeed. No shame πŸ™‚

  5. e.Nice said:

    The furniture sounds pretty sweet. I’ve been to IKEA a few times but I hate that I can never figure out how to get OUT of the building when I’m done. Its overwhelming. Does the social anxiety kick in when you go where other people are, or only when there is interaction? Either way it is impressive that you would go to a meeting and share.

    • Ellen said:

      I know, getting out is horrible. I’ve used up all my coping by that point, and then still have to find a way out. lol.
      Social anxiety for me is mostly if there’s interaction, or the expectation of interaction. Thank you.

      • e.Nice said:

        How is the new job going? Thats rather anxiety provoking.

        • Ellen said:

          It is anxiety provoking, but today it seemed under control. At least I’m more aware of my anxiety, which I didn’t used to be, so can control it more or less. I have hopes the job will be pretty decent! ty

          • e.Nice said:

            So glad it is going well for you! Interesting that being aware of the anxiety makes it easier to control. What are you doing to deal with it if you don’t mind my asking?

            • Ellen said:

              Um…a lot of kind inner conversations, with myself and with younger parts. For me, noticing anxiety is key, because then I can try and take a break, see what my internal conversation is like….

            • e.Nice said:

              Those are good skills πŸ™‚

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