anxiety · avoidance tendencies · coping mechanisms · life · social anxiety

An Anxiety-Inducing Situation

It’s that time of week again for my brother to be home for the first night after he’s been away at his girlfriend’s place since last week. I don’t want to lie about how I feel. It’s better for me when he’s not around. He may be the only one out of my immediate family who knows about my social anxiety, but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable discussing it with him. I don’t think I have much a relationship with him. I don’t feel the need to close the familial gap between him and I. This may be my social anxiety talking because knowing me, I usually avoid the thing or person that I associate with my anxiety. I am actively trying not to anymore, to the best of my ability right now, although I know I have my limits and times where I do not always succeed. Knowing my own limits means that when I do choose to put myself in a situation and then give into the fear/anxiety and decide to get the hell out of there, I don’t beat myself up about it and accept what has happened. I wouldn’t say I run out of the room if he happens to come home. But, I certainly am still at the point where if I know he’ll be home soon, I’ll use that time to go downstairs into the basement and shower or change the water in my fish tanks so I don’t have to be around when he’s in.

Ironically enough, as I was typing out the last sentence, he arrived home, but without keys. My mom was busy mopping the kitchen floor so I had to get the door. Ugh. When push comes to shove, I had to act after all. I nearly slipped getting up from my seat because of the wet floor. I opened the door and said hello. I didn’t even say anything besides questions after this, or some random comment in response to something he said. I hated every word coming out of my mouth. We got on the topic of the Netflix series Stranger Things and I said I never finished Season 1 because Winona Ryder’s character was kinda annoying. Goodness, even expressing my own opinion, I felt worthless and stupid. Yes, my reason for being afraid of verbally interacting with my brother is because I have had awkward interactions with him in the past, ones where I was so nervous or so concerned about how I was being perceived that I would say very little or barely anything at all. How I internalized this was to think that he and I aren’t compatible in conversation, or that we aren’t on the same page and never will be. Maybe that’s true, but every time I feel idiotic/dumb/stupid/worthless for anything I say, it’s because I’m telling myself that I am these things. The swirl of negativity I have about myself in social situations has always been there, but it feels like a huge clusterfuck of bad thoughts and sometimes I’m unable to focus on any specific one right when it happens because it’s all so overwhelming. How am I supposed to stop thoughts that I’ve been drilling into myself for years and years now? I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve never been so acutely aware until now that I’m judging myself on how I act even before I do anything, including whether I do anything or not.

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