There will be many disclaimers before I write this post because I don't really feel 'qualified' to write it; because my anxiety is only minor, because I had therapy for it when I was sixteen and never again since, because I've never been on medication for it, because I can interact with people on a daily basis and they never know there's anything 'wrong' with me. Because because because. And yet I feel this post needs to be written. No matter how minor, I suffer with social anxiety and it affects my life on a daily basis and I haven't ever really written about that here, mostly because online it's not important. Online I can censor myself before I speak and avoid the endless hours of 'why why why did I say that?' , online I can take my time and mostly - not always- be the best version of myself. Maybe online I can write something that makes sense of the feelings I have.
I've always had problems being in big groups, even big groups of people I know. I never know what to say and I hate that awkward silence thing so I talk a lot to fill the gaps and then spend hours (days, weeks) afterwards totally freaking out that I sounded like a moron or that everyone hated me or thought I was rude because I didn't talk more/ask them more about themselves etc. This may sound familiar to those of you I have met and whose numbers I have (Laura, Hanna) and who I have text after said meetings apologising for some tiny thing I may have done to offend you. Let me be clear - this is not particularly debilitating to my life. Not in the way that it is to some people at least. It doesn't often stop me from doing things I really want to do (anymore), but it does mean that I obsess about them for days before and then afterwards as I've already mentioned. On occassion I will spend an entire trip or meet up worrying and worrying about what people are thinking of me but it's not the regular occurrence it once was. Thanks to a wonderful therapist and very supportive friends I've somehow managed to overcome the worst of it, and yet....
Since having children I've been forced into way more social situations than I'm comfortable with. I know that if I want them to be good with people I have to put them in social situations, be it playgroup, baby rhyme time at the library, or even just trips to the playground. In our local area we have some lovely groups. Today we attended a monthly kids group at our church where we're just starting to get to know people and it was lovely except that Ben shouted 'I don't like it' the whole way through the story and prayer and I felt like everyone was staring at me and judging me for being a horrible mother and unable to make him stop. Probably they were just sitting there sympathising silently, but I always worry. Don't get me wrong, I talk to people at these things and they are generally lovely, but I always feel incredibly awkward and the conversations are almost always very short. I know that two is a difficult age and everything can seem overwhelming but when playing 'What's the Time, Mr Wolf?' Ben continually cried and told me it was scary and I couldn't help but wonder if my tension in new situations and in big groups is somehow feeding through to him in the same way that he's picked up a fear of bees from the way Rhys is around them?
I didn't think that my anxiety was obvious to an outsider but kids are intuitive and it's impossible not to worry about how my behaviour affects my children. Only in this case it's difficult because I don't know what I can do about it. I hope that being around my more confident siblings and their families will help my boys.
It's difficult and I don't have answers, I just needed to write this.