I was supposed to be going out with a group of friends tonight. We were supposed to be going to a Bar and then possibly Dancing. Up until today, I was looking forward to it. I'd even booked a babysitter. Then the Gremlins began chipping in....'You can't go out with them - you'll have nothing to say.' 'You can't go out with them - they're all beautiful and you...well, you swore you weren't going to let yourself go...but...'......'You can't go out. Let alone with them. No-one really wants to spend any time with you, they're just inviting you out of obligation...or...pity'.....'Best just stay in where it's safe and there's no-one to judge you but yourself'. So, having cancelled, I'm here on my sofa, judging myself. And I'm an unforgiving bastard.
I've always suffered from social anxiety, pretty-much since my school-mates decided to coil one up on my confidence at around age 12 and I couldn't ever stop myself from wanting to be their friend, anyway....which led to a cycle of basically eating turd and acting like I liked it for around 10 years. Yes, I know, I should have got over that stuff by now, but, for whatever reason - weakness of character, bad genes, masochism - I haven't. I still find it hard to be around people, even if they're my closest friends. If there's more than one other person around, I'm basically buggered. And, It's got worse since having my son. Layered on top of the sour-tasting sponge of basic insecurity is another tier of mothercentric-paranoia and on top of this another of vanity-based, post-babybody-consciousness.....all finished off beautifully with an icing of fatigue and dusting of identity loss.
Since having a baby everything has changed (no duh). My world has expanded on many levels, thanks to the overall brilliance of watching my beautiful boy discover the joys life has to offer, but it has also significantly shrunk. I'm limited by having a dependant, by not having the time or energy to read about what's happening 'out there' in the 'real world', let alone actually venture out into it. I'm fine in a work environment, where I play a role and can write myself a script based on fact, but socially, I often just can't deal. I find myself preparing, anticipating, imagining scenarios and how I might integrate myself into the group. If I do force myself into a social situation, then I often over-compensate by being hyper and performing or becoming over-nervous thanks to constant self-monitoring.
This isn't anything to do with my friends. Although some of my pre-baby lot have disappeared and I still find that hard to accept, plus, some relationships with old mates who have stuck around have predictably been altered by the new 'me', I AM lucky to have a wonderful group of friends. I just can't shake my bloody insecurity - 3 years to the big 4-0 and I'm still so often a teenage girl.
BUT, there are positives here (Really? Are you OK?) - My son's led to my meeting a brilliant group of women via NCT and beyond, so although being a mum may have expanded my Gremlins' repertoire, it's often drowned out by the cake-mainlining and problem-dissecting. Plus, having a child may have spiced up my social anxiety recipe, but it's also made me very determined to cut it out of my everyday diet. I don't want him to suffer from this stuff too - I want him to have a big, happy group of friends who he trusts like his family.
Eeeek. I've suddenly got The Fear. I'm very conscious right now that some of my friends read this blog.....but I know they know I'm a weirdo, anyway, so I suppose I'll just have to take a leap of faith, get over myself, ignore the Gremlins for a bit and just press 'publish'.....