Yesterday was exhausting after I spent the whole day and into the evening with my family. I had a good time, although there were some rocky moments I’ll discuss in this post. My family doesn’t typically do anything for Christmas as sometimes convenience overtakes the desire to be festive and merry. But my brother happened to come home and so we (he, my parents, and I) went out for breakfast.
I can’t pretend that I am comfortable around my brother. He knows more about my social anxiety and has shown acknowledgment that it is a real thing, but I’ve avoided talking to him openly about my problems since the last real discussion we had about it last year. At the time I felt we reached an understanding but the conversation itself was very uncomfortable for me to have with him in the first place, and I still perceive that he says things that are triggering for me anxiety-wise or not helpful even if I know he probably doesn’t mean to come across that way to me.
Despite this, I soldiered on with going out to have breakfast with him and my parents, though the minute my dad told me of these plans the night before, I started feeling anxious and secretly wished the world would end so I wouldn’t have to go. I even slept poorly because of it. Went to bed late and then had trouble falling asleep due to a combination of my persistent worries and I kept getting an itch in my throat that made me cough occasionally. I got anxious about being in my brother’s presence and how to act with him. I don’t really reach out to him… Sure, I am curious and can think of questions I want to ask but I never say them. Either I think I don’t have the right to ask them because I seem to give the impression I am not that interested in his life or I feel too nervous about asking them just to fill up the conversation only to not know what else to say. Then there’s my anxiety when he asks me stuff. I still have somewhat of a problem with being seen by certain people or acknowledged by them. Something in me instinctively feels scared when people talk to me. During the breakfast, he asked if I had gotten around to using the Amazon Echo, a wireless smart speaker. I mean… It’s not like he was talking to me about a really grave topic, yet even with this, I felt on edge from the moment he spoke to me. I felt pressure to respond without letting my nervousness show.
The thing I realized about myself from the whole day is the more I try to bury my nervousness, the more obvious it is. I have a hard time keeping still when I am anxious. I have some nervous ticks where I’ll feel compelled to readjust my glasses by pushing them up or scrunch up my eyebrows or brush an imaginary hair away from my face because I’m uncomfortable or there is something around me that is setting me off. Like on the subway when I was browsing my phone, yet because my brother was sitting directly across from me, it seemed like every few minutes I was doing one of my nervous ticks as a reaction to my own emotions. So basically I am giving myself trouble when there is none. I acted this way even though my brother was definitely not behaving in a way that merited such fear from me. I don’t even think he glanced up at my briefly more than twice during the entire subway ride because he was either too busy on his phone or he was continuously talking to our dad.
As a family, we visited some spots in Manhattan. My brother was basically the tour guide for the day, lol, as some places he brought me and my parents to, I had not been to some of those areas before. I caught myself twice almost losing my temper as a response to getting anxious.
One of these times was in a Google store where there was an interactive photo booth for people to go in and get their picture taken with a cool background effect. I was looking around the store exhibits without realizing my family already got in line for the photo. They waved me over but I deliberately delayed things by continuing to wander on my own until I ran out of stuff to look at. Then I was terrified upon seeing my dad was still urging me to join the line, but it made me upset just how anxious I felt about taking a silly photo with my family. That’s why I got angry at myself before that anger was trying to find another target to take a hit at. I just wanted someone to blame for my anger, I think, because I often don’t feel in control of my anxiety. Somehow I managed to keep my anger in check and didn’t lash out towards anyone, though I spent the whole time waiting on the line and having the mind of a pacing animal who kept alternating between feeling anxious and feeling angry because of the anxiety. Ultimately the photo was fine and the background was kinda neat looking. I just can’t believe my mind worked itself into such a fury and how often I blow things out of proportion because of anxiety.
Featured Image by Andy Watkins.