So I’ve always been a bit of an outsider where my family are concerned, I know I’m different to them. They are all confident and outgoing, chatty and social and then there’s me. Over the years, I’ve just dealt with it and got on with things. I know I’m not like them, wish I was or could be as they all have a great laugh when there are family parties etc. I tend to arrive early, sit in a corner somewhere with my partner and children and then the party happens around me, they all sit together and chat and I just fade into the shadows of the room. I can focus on my children, that’s why I’m sat down so they have somewhere to sit etc but that’s bullshit really. I sit there because if I don’t sit down, what am I going to do, where am I going to stand, who am I going to talk to, what am I going to talk about, what if they walk away, what if they don’t listen when I talk – all that goes through my head so for me, it’s easier to sit at that table with my little family and let the party happen around me. I have a few members come over and say hi, sit for a bit but they always end up back at the bar, back to where it’s all happening. One party I went to, there was only me, my partner and children sat in the party side, everyone else was in the bar side having a great time. I hated it. Well this weekend a member of my family had a birthday party, I saw on social media that my extended family were invited, they all had a great time by the looks of it. Was I invited, nope! No mention of it to me! Does it bother me, I like to pretend it doesn’t but it hurts! I cried this morning because I don’t exactly like being like this. They probably didn’t invite me because I always turn down invites to the place they go all the time, the place sets my anxiety off, somewhere with lots of people I don’t know, no thanks! But I think the fact that I can see that they all went, even extended family that don’t go there on a regular basis (like me) got invited and I didn’t even get told about it, didn’t get the choice of going or not. It hurts a lot! It makes me want to keep myself to myself even more now, I don’t want to open myself up for this, I don’t want to feel like shit (the way I have been feeling about it today).

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I suffer with anxiety and have done for, well for as long as I can remember. As I get older, the worse it seems to get and it feels like there is no way of stopping it or slowing it down. I know a lot of it is due to my ex and PTSD and I often wonder if the social side of things is due to moving around a lot as a child (living somewhere for no longer than a year and half). I struggle so much to make friends, in the school playground when I collect my children I see others chatting and laughing and wish I could be like that, wish I could just walk over to someone and say hi. Sometimes I even manage to fool myself into thinking I can, I think today is the day, I can do this. Then do you know what happens, anxiety pops up and says don’t be silly, of course you can’t. It’s like it enjoys fooling me into thinking I’m ok, that I can overcome it but then realisation kicks in. Explaining to someone who doesn’t suffer with anxiety is so hard, because when you explain things out loud, it really does sound silly. It doesn’t feel silly that’s for sure!! Then I’m faced with do I tell them as soon as I start talking, to explain why I’m socially awkward or is that going to scare them away as much as me being the way I am does. Have you ever heard people say, you’re ok, you can do this, don’t be silly, etc, ha fuck you!! If I could just wake up and stop myself feeling and being like this, don’t you think I would!!? Who wants to feel like this on a daily basis, I know I certainly don’t!!

So I went back to work after 2 weeks off on Thursday and it was a day I was dreading anyway as we had a training day where we would come together but not just the company I work for but 5 others as well. I was dreading it for a number of reasons, I had been off for a couple of weeks and this is something I struggle with anyway (the going back), it was with 5 other groups of people I don’t know, somewhere I didn’t know, I was going on my own and I’m sure there are many more reasons too. So when I got there, I parked up and waited for some work colleagues to turn up. thankfully was able to walk in with one of them which helped. Everything was going well up to this point, surprisingly. We were sat in a cafe area just chatting and when it got busy with other work groups turning up, I felt fine as I was with my work colleagues and felt quite relaxed. Que the first thing that set my anxiety off….someone who was my maid of honour when I married my twunt of an ex so many years ago (who is one of the main causes of my anxiety being so bad may I add) was also there. We haven’t spoken or seen each other for a good 5 plus years, she hasn’t changed at all. She saw me looking at her, smiled then went back to her conversation as if she a) hadn’t recognised me (I have changed in that time) or b) she felt awkward as I know her from years ago and she was going through a bad patch at that time and this was her new work colleagues she was with. So that filled me with dread, what if I had to be in a group with her, would she talk to me, would I have to speak to her as if we didn’t know her but at the same time I really wanted to speak to her, to say hi how are you etc. Of course my anxiety had other ideas, so I just found myself staring at her every now and then wondering if she’d recognised me. So again, sitting there chatting with work colleagues whilst also looking across at my old friend from many years ago. We then hear what we are going to do next, go upstairs and pick a stick out of a bag and then sit in a circle with others of that same coloured stick – here we go, the start of it all beginning. Getting removed from those I feel comfortable with to people I don’t know. The thing is, I don’t know if this is weird or not, but I am fine in this sort of situation for work purposes if I am with a group of people I don’t know at all, put a few people I do know into the mix and my anxiety goes up. So I get my stick and off I go. Oh I didn’t mention that a lot of the people I work with, we work across a couple of sites, they are all friends out of work and see each other on a regular basis away from work. This is something else that sets my anxiety off on training days. Anyway, back to the day in question. Sitting there in the group, I feel ok, I have one member of staff I know with me but it’s one I don’t talk to a great deal but I can do this. Then we have a task given to us where we write some things down on a big piece of paper and then one of us stands up and tells everyone else what we have. Normally at training events like this, with people I don’t know I can do this. On this day, I have work colleagues and now the person that was once a good friend there. No way can I stand up and talk to the groups of people. So now to try and avoid this when everyone in my little groups says who’s going to do it, um not me. Coffee break comes and thankfully I manage to tag along with people I work with, sit with them and am fine again. When we go back up, its listening to different people talk so now to sit back and listen (whilst checking over at the lady I was once friends with wondering if she’d recognised me, was ignoring me on purpose etc). Lunch time comes, lunch is provided, part of the day so I join the queue assuming that I would have people to sit with as there were a lot of us there from my work place, everyone was obviously going to sit in their work groups and I was ok. Got my food then went to sit down, when someone I work with comes over and says she’s heading back to our work place as the others are going out for lunch so she’s getting a lift. I stand there thinking shit what am I going to do, she tries to reassure me that there are a couple staying and I act all cool, oh it’s ok, see you later when inside I’m dying. I sit down and look around, the member of staff I was sat with is in the queue, yeah I don’t talk to her much but at least it’s someone I know. I look around and see that everyone is forming their big groups of work colleagues to sit with and there is me, on my own. Anxiety has well and truly kicked in by now. I want to cry, am shaking, feel sick but I force myself to eat the little bit of food I took and try to pretend to be busy by checking my phone. The lady I work with comes over and I then have a new thing to make me worse, trying to make conversation with someone I don’t talk to very much in a situation where I am already feeling so anxious. It didn’t work well. I was able to make it another 5 minutes and said well I had better get off, got so much to do this afternoon. Oh I forgot to add, the lady who I was once friends with came over to where I was sat to speak to a lady sat opposite me and she didn’t look at me at all, again don’t know if she’s ignoring or just doesn’t recognise me but either way I want to say something but at the same time I can’t. I leave and in the car I just want to cry all the way back to work, I’m shaking and talking out loud to myself. It dawned on me that day that I really don’t have any friends at work, the first place I haven’t had friends at work and I hate that. I’ve been there 9 years, working on different sites but still, 9 years!! By this time I’m feeling pretty shit. I have been trying to lose weight and think fuck it, I need a boost so treated myself to a costa and slice of cake – way to make yourself feel worse!! Go me!! When I got home that day, I felt so shit about everything and ended up not doing a lot, couldn’t speak to my partner as I know I would have cried which would have turned into a panic attack and I was already exhausted. So instead what I done was sit quietly feeling worse and then went to sleep crying a little.
Anxiety sucks massively and I hate that it has such a hold over me. On a normal day I wouldn’t have been so bothered by it all, but think where I was already nervous about the day that didn’t help. I know they are all friends out of work and that doesn’t normally bother me either, think it was just the fact that none of them even thought to say oh we’re going out for lunch, you know, just to let me know. It was only a last minute thing and by someone that is in a position that she probably thought it was her job to tell me.  I really do feel like I’m on the outside with people I work with, and that is fine with me, we’re not alike so why would we meet up out of work etc. I get on with the people I work with and can have a laugh at work etc so I’m happy with that. It can just get to you sometimes that actually it’s the first time you’ve not had those friendships away from work, that you’re left out of things like the lunch time thing etc. But hey, you have to get on with it don’t you.

So my social anxiety holds me back ALOT and the other day someone suggested writing down what the main things are that make my anxiety worse. So thought it was worth a go.

So here goes……..I’ll do a few different social events that cause my social anxiety to get worse.

I have some online friends who I have never met in real life, I can be myself online and chat the way I would if I was with my partner – one of the only people in real life that I can talk properly and be me with. So the thought of meeting in person, the things that make me really anxious are the thought of saying/doing something that could embarrass me, not knowing what to say, long awkward pauses. I play conversations out in my head first, so worry that in doing this, the pauses will become longer and more awkward, this is mainly because of my ex and having to think of what I was going to say before saying it so I could figure out what reaction I would get or where that could then go (an abusive relationship). Another thing is that the person just wont like me, will question as to why they got on with me in the first place, will want to leave not long after meeting. Also the thought of having to keep a conversation going, it not being natural. In messages, I can have a few minutes, hours or days between replying/receiving a message so no pressure and if it is instant messaging, I am behind a screen so feel safe.

The school playground…….it’s the knowing no-one, people judging from first looks – I either have tattoos on show or look smart due to work and having to keep them covered up. I have noticed people treat me differently there when I am in my own clothes, they smile more and maybe even say hi sometimes. If I’m in my work clothes I get nothing, it’s like I’m not even seen. I don’t have the confidence to say hello first in case I am ignored, then my anxiety would go even higher in case someone else saw me being ignored, in case others also done the same. It’s the thought of starting a conversation off, what to say, how to get it to carry on past hi, how are you. Again I over think and have to go over conversations in my head to see where they could go etc.

A meet-up/party…….lots of people in one small place that I don’t know and if I do know some, the worry of them speaking to everyone but me. Again it’s the over thinking and having to go over conversations in my head before speaking or during conversations, the ‘what to talk about’ situation again, not knowing what a common ground could be to keep a conversation going. Making myself sound or look silly.

In all of these, the one main thing about any of them is attention, having that attention on me. I hate having attention on myself, if I’m talking and can feel people looking at me, feel my face go red which then makes me worse. I would rather be in a corner nice and quiet where no one pays any attention to me. But on the other hand, I feel lonely even though I love my little family that I have. I don’t have that special friend to phone up, meet for a coffee etc and I want that. I want that friendship where you can be yourself, chat, even be quiet in each others company but can also talk about anything, share problems, happy times, a true friendship.

After writing down the above, I just can’t see how I can go about not letting my social anxiety effect me, how do you force yourself to do something that is so hard and the thought of forcing yourself to do something makes it worse.

It’s taken a lot to write this down and it’s not an easy thing to write. My partner is my daughters step dad, she calls him dad which was her choice to do and she doesn’t see her father again her choice. My daughter is 11. He has been in her life as my partner since May 2010. She hasn’t seen he rather for 3 years and hasn’t heard anything from him in that time and doesn’t want to. (That’s just to give a bit of background). 

So anyway, their relationship (my partner and daughter) has been slowly going downhill recently. He moans at her a lot for attitude and the way she speaks which actually he should be doing. She gives attitude and speaks like shit, but because she feels he’s always getting at her. She’s a typical 11 year old, who is hormonal but at the same time she does also need to be spoken to when she is being the way she is because it’s not acceptable to speak to someone in that way – she does do it to me too, just not as much. Its a viscous circle that just seems to be getting worse. My daughter said to me the other day that she feels she doesn’t like him so me and her had a talk, she thinks it’s just that he tells her off a lot that she doesn’t like rather than him as a person. I then also spoke to my partner about it. We said that they would do things together more as that is something that has slipped a lot recently. So the day we spoke, they spent about 20 minutes cuddling and talking about their day and then just general things and it was lovely. I saw something change in both of them towards each other which then carried on to the next day. Then where things happen, routine takes over, rushing to get things done etc they didn’t then do anything the next day and here we are a few days later back to square one. I’ve told them that they need to sort it out between them, that they need to talk, they need to spend time together. I also said that if things don’t get better, they will only get worse and if that happens then something serious will need to happen. I was miserable as a child because I hated my step dad, I won’t make my daughter have a life like that for my happiness. So I have said to them, maybe I shouldn’t I don’t know, but I said that if things continue to get worse then we would seriously need to think about whether me and my partner can stay together and I said about the fact that I grew up in a house with this atmosphere and I won’t let it happen to her. (They both know this about my childhood). They are currently sat together drawing and I’m sat in the hallway trying not to cry anymore. I can’t be the go between all the time, I can’t remind them to do things together, to spend time together which again I have said. It needs to be them doing it, for it to happen enough that it just becomes natural and routine. I know they love each other, can see that when things are good and I know they can have an amazing relationship but it needs to be them putting the effort in, not me having to be the one who does the talking, etc.  

Has anyone been through similar? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel lol. 

So I know on social media sites you see all the great things about peoples lives, never the bad, I get that. Even though I know that, it doesn’t make it any easier sometimes. I was on there earlier and my cousin had posted some photos of a day out with her family and friends, I felt a little pang of jealousy. I don’t have friends that I meet up with, she’s grown up with the friends in the photos, they all know each other (including husbands) and I just love how close and happy they look. I don’t have friends I went to school with as we moved after I finished school, I have changed jobs a couple of times since working and although I stay in touch with some, most never became friends out of work. The ‘friends’ I had when I used to go out drinking with my ex, well they were ‘friends’ at the time of me going out to the pub, but as soon as I had a child that stopped as that’s the only place they go. So now I’m almost 37 and don’t have any friends that I can meet up with. It doesn’t help that I suffer with anxiety and most of that is to do with my ex and as I get older, it seems to get worse so I find it even harder to make friends. I mean, where do you go to find friends as an adult. I work full time, but term time only but the clubs aren’t on in the holidays.

Think I’ve come to realise that this friendship thing is hard. I’m 35, nearly 36 and if I don’t have them by now, time to maybe give up trying lol. I have people I talk to, some who I even meet up with once or twice a year, that’ll do for me 🙂
Anyone else feel like this sometimes? Being an adult is bloody hard and the making friends thing just seems to get harder as you get older.

In the past I have had a couple of ‘best friends’ or so I thought………..funny enough we don’t talk anymore. One of them would even cross the road now rather than saying hello. The other has slowly stopped messaging, stopped talking so I’m distancing myself as I’m not going through that again. It hurt so much when the first one stopped talking to me, she was going through lots of things and I had something she at the time couldn’t have so was hard for her. I get that. But it still hurt like hell. I refuse to have that happen to me again, no-one has that right to treat us in that way and make us feel so shit.
This isn’t a sympathy post, just giving in to reality and realising that actually, I’m ok like this 🙂 I’ve spent so long being down about the fact I don’t have friends I can meet up with regularly, but no more! I need to start thinking about the things I do have and being thankful for that 😀
Onwards and upwards……