anxiety · avoidance tendencies · irrational thinking · life · social anxiety

A family member staying over = explosion of anxiety for me

So, the deal is my mother’s younger brother is flying in tomorrow from California to stay over for 2-3 weeks. It’s his vacation, and this will be the first time my mom is seeing him in two years, which was the last time he came to New York to stay over during his vacation. Naturally, I dislike this and am not looking forward to this.

I have never dealt well with a family member staying over because I see it as an invasion of space and privacy. I use the basement pretty regularly as my daytime and nighttime place to hang out besides my room because I keep some of my pets there. If I lived alone, my pets would most definitely be relocated to the living room, but since I still with my parents, they refuse to let me have my animals anywhere else besides the basement. It’s a tough situation I am in, and it’s an arrangement I have been unhappy about for years now. In addition to being in the basement a lot because of spending time with my pets and looking after them, I use one of the rooms as my space to have quiet time and privacy if I need to call someone, or I just want alone time to pursue my hobbies without anyone bugging me.

I also regularly use the basement bathroom to shower and clean up after myself, as my dad also does. I used to use the second-floor bathroom to shower, but over time I habitually began to shower downstairs out of convenience. Also, because my mom has unspoken rights to the upstairs bathroom, which she likes (and somewhat expects, as another unspoken rule)  that the upstairs shower stays dry and clean after she’s done using it.

I know I’m very set in my ways and I sound pretty selfish right now for not wanting to share space with a relative. At the same time, I feel indignant and want to shout from the mountains, “There are already four people living in this house. Do you really want to cram another person in here for 2-3 weeks?” The worst part of me also can’t help feeling snappish over why my mom’s brother can’t just stay with another nearby relative instead, preferably one of the many family members he knows who live alone or have more housing accommodations than my family does.

Now, down to the major reason why I don’t want to be in the same space as my mom’s brother for the next few weeks. Social anxiety. I’m not even close to my uncle, and I have to say I have no interest in getting to know him either. Maybe my social anxiety is influencing how I feel about him because talking to him gives me anxiety and panic and I want to avoid that, or maybe I’m just a cold bitch. Either way, last time he was here two years ago, I just about tolerated his presence, and I was often short and vague whenever he asked me questions that I would have to answer. I especially hated when he asked me about my job search and offered to help me clean up my resume. The topic was painful for me to discuss. I felt very uncomfortable then because I don’t think I was ready to admit certain truths about my problems in trying to find a job. For one thing, I spent a lot of time in the past just feeling anxiety about even looking at job ads, looking into how I could improve my job skills, etc. Besides this, I remember my mom’s brother often inviting me to a lot of outings or events that he and my mom were going to. And I often felt obligated to go even if I didn’t want to. This is partially because, back then, I was basically the stereotype of what a social anxiety sufferer is like. I was avoidant of people to the point I would almost always be in my room or in the basement room hanging out by myself and doing whatever. If I declined to go to an event, I would just say I didn’t want to go and expect people to stop pestering me. Instead what would happen is my family would often insist I could go. They probably viewed their own actions as gentle persuasion, but I saw this as them needlessly forcing me to go some place I already made my own decision about. I’m not saying they were right, but that I wasn’t wrong either.

The arrival of my mom’s brother also makes me anxious because I know this means her side of the family will be around more. Her relatives almost never come over, but when her brother is around, they always seem more inclined to come if they’re invited to dinner or something. I hate this. I hardly know my mom’s relatives, and I’ve seen them infrequently throughout the years. Every time I see them, it always turns into some kind of lost family reunion where they start asking me questions to catch up on my life. Where do you work? Do you have a boyfriend? What do you like to do? Like I want to share those details with you, ugh. As if that’s not bad enough, another anxiety trigger for me is having to sit through my mom and her family speaking another Chinese dialect that they only use around their own family. It’s infuriating when they speak about me to my mom, and yet I’m sitting right there in their presence. Thanks, this really makes me love being at family gatherings.

Some of my issues that I’ve discussed in this post might seem minuscule to someone who can’t relate to me or my social anxiety, but I’m not ashamed to be talking about them. I do realize I’m making my uncle out into quite the villain because of the perspective I have on him. I don’t know how to fully explain the panic I feel. It’s like I just want to do my own thing and accomplish plans I have for my week, and I honestly feel if he’s going to be here, he’ll get in the way of my goals.

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3 thoughts on “A family member staying over = explosion of anxiety for me

  1. Nat, I feel you. I hate family parties because everyone expect you to tell them the story of your life, they don’t realize you see them just 2 times per year more or less? Who are they? Don’t feel like your issues are less important, they are very valid and important because at the end of the day is you the person who’s living inside your body, as obvious it may seen, but that’s your life and that’s your battle, nobody can judge you at least they can read minds or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support and understanding of the problems I discussed.

      Exactly, why should I have to share so much information about myself with relatives who I don’t even have much of a connection with besides genetics? I can only count on one hand the number of family members I actually want to keep in contact with for life. Everyone else can go away. And I know I sound unnecessarily mean in this way. A part of me in the past used to long for a close, tight knit group with my extended family, but I know now that’s never going to happen. Partially because of my social anxiety and my huge discomfort at being in the presence of more than even two extended family relatives, but also because from early on in my life, my relationship with most of my extended family has been very weak. How was I supposed to get to know people if the only time I saw my mom’s relatives was on the lunar new year? I never had play dates with cousins or anything. The only two cousins I grew up playing with are also the only two I still care about and wish well even though we are now all in different states and haven’t hung out all together in more than a year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s crazy but I share the same background with cousins too. i had just two cousins who I was close as a child but when we got older we took different path. Actually my girl cousin, we were close until high school but between my anxieties and her desire to drink and go to parties we got distant. It happens a lot I think. No thanks need. I hope he doesn’t get too intense this time, so you can deal with the situation better. But if things don’t go as good, you always have your blog and I’m here to talk if you need too. Hugs~

    Liked by 1 person

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