I have pretty bad social anxiety. I have mentioned in my blog before, but never in detail. I have been making great strides in overcoming it, which I am very proud of. I actually took kiddo and her friend to a bowling birthday party last week, and survived! Yes, I say survived because social anxiety can make you feel like you’re on Death’s doorstep. I used to not be able to muster up the courage though.
When husband and I first got married is when it kicked into over drive. I have always been really shy, and kind of anxious in social situations, but nothing that completely kept me from something potentially fun. Something happened after we got married though, and there was quite an extensive period of time where I could not make myself go to something socially interactive. No parties, no get-togethers, nothing. I even had a terrible time meeting my two best friends. Our husbands were great friends, but I had such a hard time getting out the door and interacting with them. Thankfully now they understand how I am, and still nag me about getting together from time to time.
Except Nicole, because she is like me. Our husbands just don’t get it.
Whenever my social anxiety kicks in, my heart races and my stomach turns in knots. I sweat, and feel nauseated. My blood pressure goes up, which makes my head pound. It’s panic and fear rushing through me. Fear of what? I have no idea.
Rejection? Yeah, probably. I felt that yesterday.
Kiddo is in preschool, and absolutely loves it. After school, most days, the kids get together outside and play for a few minutes before going home. We stay for maybe a minute or two, and then leave because I’m uncomfortable. The moms all talk, and seem to be friends now. I have so much trouble getting into a conversation. It’s not that I don’t know what to say, because my brain is screaming out sentences that my mouth wont speak. When I do talk, I feel like a bumbling idiot, and then just shut up again.
Yesterday is when I realized how my social anxiety pushes people away, or gives them the wrong impression of me. I was walking out of the school with kiddo, and another mom was coming in to get her son. I said Hi, as I always do (I always smile and say Hi to people. I like seeing them smile too.), and she completely ignored me. I know she heard me because it echoed in the hallway. I even saw her eyes dart towards me, and then away.
She’s not the only one. Some of the other moms do it too. A lot of the neighbors around here do too. Even though I am friendly when I see them, say hello and smile, laugh at funny things, etc. After we first moved here, two of the wives on the street came down to meet me. They brought their kids when they saw me at the playground with kiddo. I thought it was nice, but my social anxiety kicked in, and I didn’t talk much. They never came back, and never talked to me again. They eventually even stopped waving and saying Hi when I saw them outside, even when I initiated it. I have never been rude to them except for the lack of conversation, but to them, that lack of conversation is probably coming off as snobby and rude.
I’m working on it. I am making strides. At the bowling party, I struck up a conversation with the birthday girl’s mom, and a couple of others whose kids were on the same lane as kiddo. None of them were the ones ignoring me now though. I told one of those moms though that night about my social anxiety, and she still talks to me a little, but not much.
I know it’s me, and I wish I could get over it completely. I’m pushing people away, even if I think it’s silly for people to ignore me because I do not talk as much as the other moms. Baby steps. Slow, painful baby steps.