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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.



Sep. 8th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
decemberleaf has such a good point. We are friends with a couple that are pretty extroverted and they throw parties all the time, mixing people who have never met. Their key is to have a theme in the party. It could be playing Win, Lose or Draw, or some other game type thing or wine sampling. It gives people something to "do" like playing with a camera did for mcauliflower. At the same time you loosen up a little and find those common interests without it being that tense small talk that most parties require. It can be fun and a great way to meet new people without the stress.

Thanks for the reminder that parties can be a good thing.
Sep. 8th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
I remember a party at D'Norgia's once, years ago, where we played one of those games. I can't remember which, but it involved a great deal of shouting, cheating, and laughing. I remember it as being fun--but of course...D'Norgia. What's not fun about her?

Generally, games freak me out more than regular parties. Wine-tasting, now that is relaxing!



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