Hello, my name is Karen and I suffer from shyness. You would have a hard time believing this if you follow my blog. Or if you deal with me at work. But I am and in social situations, outside of my work milieu? It is almost debilitating. I avoid events, parties, dinner invitations because of it. I am so intensely uncomfortable that I am simply unable to enjoy myself.
Why? Pfff, who knows? I certainly don’t. I’ve tried to analyze it but I assume I am too close to the subject of the analysis 😉
I used to have a couple of “belts” before heading out to face the masses at a social event. I stopped doing that a few years ago. I simply don’t like drinking anymore. Oh, I like the taste of a few of those frou-frou cocktails but they are fattening, contain far too much sugar and can cause you to pray to whatever deity is up there, for death, if you over imbibe. Nothing can make you as sick as one too many of those frou-frous, except maybe, Jack Daniels.
I don’t smoke dope so these events are suffered completely straight and sober. It’s awful. It takes me twice as long to get ready, I drop everything I touch. I question everything I wear, right down to the colour of my under-drawers, which obviously, as I don’t drink – no one is going to see. I did break my own rule last night, it was a huge social event and I did have 2 Smirnoff Ice. Didn’t help and made me feel a little queasy, lots of sugar in those suckers. I have no idea what to say to people, no idea what to talk about. I listen to the conversations for clues but usually whatever is being discussed is out of my sphere of experience or interest.
My kids are grown. I can’t talk about kiddie stuff. A few of the people are grandparents but you don’t want to bore people with tales of your grandchildren and their genius, absolute adorability. We’re grandparents – we all think our grandkids are fabulous, gorgeous creatures. I don’t hear talk about current affairs for the most part as these seem to be taboo in social interaction. I neither know nor care about peoples’ peccadillos so that shuts me out of what, seems to be, the main topics of conversation.
My family life is nobody’s business, so I don’t discuss that.
Then there are the physical symptoms, my tummy hurts and my throat tightens up. I start to hyperventilate (in my mind – not actually…). My thoughts just become a big old jumble.
This doesn’t happen at work but then, I avoid all actual social situations there as well. I NEVER eat in the lunchroom – NEVER. I eat at my desk and work through lunch. There are a few people with whom I am comfortable but it has taken a long time to feel like I can relax a bit with them. Every year, I am invited to attend a banquet for one of our industry organizations. I went once. Never again. It was so intensely unsettling that I simply can’t go through that again. I was actually sick to my stomach and could not taste the food. My muscles all contracted so that they hurt when I, FINALLY, arrived home. It was awful.
If I volunteer for anything; it is as a grunt. Behind the scenes. I had to take the stage a few times for an organization that I founded and that’s one of the reasons I let it go. There were other reasons of course but this was a contributing factor. I don’t like having to speak to groups.
We have lived in our home since January 1989. I still don’t really know my neighbours. I know their names but I don’t “know” them per se.
I’ve been mistaken for an ice cold bitch and a snob all due to the shyness. I don’t express myself well verbally. The words get caught in my throat and refuse to leave; they put up their feet, grab a cigar and sit back to watch the fun of my attempts to force them out. I have trouble making eye contact and I imagine my body language isn’t exactly one of open acceptance. These combine to create a cold snobby bitch image. Okay, yes – I am absolutely bitchy when people try to screw me over or do something completely foul but as a general rule, I am just frightened. Frightened of people and situations.
Last night was a social event. It was HELL. I enjoyed the time with my husband, of course but there were so many people who seemed to think that I could converse with them so I took a lot of smoke breaks. I didn’t actually smoke the cigarettes except for a few perfunctory puffs – they were simply a tool of escape as they often are. THANK YOU FOR THE NO SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES RULE!!! It has been a godsend for me.
So what do I do now? Well, I can’t be hypnotized – so hypnotherapy is out. I’ve already tried phobia thing – one on one, two on one, small group, large group and it failed…miserably. Acceptance. I guess I just have to accept this part of my psyche at this point in my life. Meh, it may interfere with commonly help perceptions of what makes life enjoyable but there are those out there in far worse shape than am I.