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Trouble in Mind

Harriet, the woman who runs Preserve, had an Indian-style pot luck this afternoon. I'd promised to attend, so I baked naan and headed up the street.

It couldn't have been a prettier day. Harriet's garden is magical. The guests were all like-minded, friendly people. The food was delicious. There was some gentle live music. I enjoyed a conversation with another woman from the neighborhood.

Yet I freaked out and had to leave after less than an hour.

It used to be bigger parties and stranger strangers. Now, it's any gathering. Pressure builds inside me. The strain of finding things to say is enormous. My desire to escape overwhelms me. I flee.

And afterwards! Oh my god, the toxicity. I'm filled with feelings of shame and stupidity, a certainty that I've behaved badly or talked too much or done wrong. The feelings continue to taint my awareness for hours afterwards. Nothing feels right, nothing is fun, everything loses its allure.

It's a trauma symptom: inappropriate activation of the sympathetic nervous system. A situation viewed with pleasant anticipation by more well-balanced people is apparently a scene of combat to my nerves: enemies in every chair, danger in every dish, hazards everywhere.

The simple solution, of course, is Never Accept Another Party Invitation As Long As I Live. And it wouldn't break my heart. But the problem closes in, year by year, and I wonder how long it will be before I can't stand to be in the same room with another human being.

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roseambr
Sep. 7th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
I agree completely with tehomet. You went, you helped Harriet set up for the evening, you conversed, you extended yourself on a day when you really just wanted to crawl under the covers and hibernate. Personally, I congratulate you for moving outside of the house at all after the work weeks you have been enduring. I think that often we are our worst critics and hardest on ourselves. Lighten up! We all hate social events where we know no one and the conversations are "social talk". Why do you think school events always consisted of circles of friends? No one wanted to step outside of that comfort zone. Only the most extroverted individuals actually look forward to these events. And often they are the ones hosting!

So, count your wins and let the rest go. I really think the entire trauma is around self-image and not at all the image you project to others. It is for me anyway! I recommend the Paraliminal CD I have for you to recover and for future events. I'll be returning it soon, I'm sorry I have it when you need it. "Self-esteem Supercharger", it's very effective for what you have described.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 7th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I'd forgotten about that paraliminal. I could really use that one! Lack of self-esteem is certainly in the mix somewhere--cause or effect, I'm not sure which.

And you're right--apart from rabbiting out without a word to my host, I don't think my actual outward behavior was bad.

Why on earth do parties exist if everyone feels this way? It's very bizarre.
roseambr
Sep. 7th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Because the extroverts of the world love to feel like they are getting people together. AND, we all hope we can overcome out dislike and discomfort of these kinds of social events. I think that's why, as we get older, we care less and less and go to fewer of them.

PS: I sent an email about our train reservations. Give it a look and let me know if it's ok.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 7th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Extraverts. Damn.

And I got your note. Sounds great, can't wait, and THANK YOU for taking care of these details. Very much appreciated.

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