And why the hell would I have a public blog if I cared so much about being judged?!
I’m not so sure I have a good answer though. I have Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety is weird. It sort of makes you constantly battle yourself against what you want. Most of the time, what you want is exactly what your mind insists you’re afraid of! Fear is a very powerful emotion. It can wreak havoc on every facet of your life and essentially hold you hostage. Most of my fears are completely irrational. I know they’re irrational. I’m a very logical person most of the time. Despite knowing how irrational they are, I let them affect and control my life. I don’t want to, but I can’t seem to stop them. I try to stop them — to talk myself out of them — sometimes I win, but more often I lose. It’s a vicious cycle of negative thought patterns.
I’ve gotten better at some aspects of it, not so much at others. Most of the time, I can eat in a restaurant. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t. I’d get there, sit down, look around at all the other people enjoying their meals and good conversation, and then I’d start freaking out. My mind would race with thoughts such as: what if they think I’m too fat to be eating out?, what if I choke on my food and cause a scene?, what if I do something wrong, like drop my fork or spill my drink? I’d get nervous and jittery, and try to fight with my brain, and eventually end up in tears and/or hyperventilating and exit the restaurant as fast as possible. I was afraid of drawing any attention, and therefore any judgment associated with that attention. My fears controlled the situation and made it more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. After which, I would then have mental “proof” that my fears were founded, and even more reason to avoid going to a restaurant in the future. In reality, no one really cares what I’m ordering, or what I’m eating. My anxiety-inspired reactions were more likely to draw negative attention than anything else.
Why am I sharing this? Because a lot of people just don’t seem to get it. They tell me I should just go out and meet people. Yea, great! If I could do that, then I wouldn’t have Social Anxiety! Just write, it’s your gift, share it! Sure, except every word I write feels like one more nail in my coffin in terms of giving people fuel for more negative judgment!
I’ve been to therapists and I’ve tried various pharmaceuticals over the years. Therapists seem to always want to focus on the past — I just want to focus on the now to create a better future. Pharmaceuticals are expensive, and sometimes risky, and they don’t even always work — in some cases, they simply allow you to trade one issue for some other issue.
I’ve had a good run of years hiding it. Having children seems to have made it much easier to do most things — because I had my children to hide behind and to use as motivation and distraction when needed. They’re growing up now and I’m feeling less shielded. I’m realizing that I’ve used them all these years as my safety net. That makes me feel sad and guilty.
I know I’m not alone. Social Anxiety affects a lot of people. It’s hard, and lonely, and saddening, and frustrating.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that I really, seriously, need to get a handle on this.
“And it’s me who is my enemy, me who beats me up, me who makes the monsters, me who strips my confidence…”