In my life I have only felt completely comfortable with two people: my father and my ex-husband.
People scare me. The first panic attack I remember was in my kindergarten classroom. My mother has so many of stories of my fits when she tried to take me places: gymnastics class, to see Santa Claus, eating at a restaurant. I either was a total brat or just shy, depending upon whom you asked. But I wasn’t really; at the least I was completely uncomfortable and at the most I was uncontrollably terrified. No one understood. And I couldn’t express why.
My social phobia was debilitating when I was a kid. So many plans ruined because I couldn’t make myself leave the house, go out in public, nor even visit a friend. And the phone? That was at least as bad as talking to someone in person.
My father spent hours rehearsing with me, planning what to say in a given situation. We’d sit in kitchen chairs, holding our hands to our heads pretending they were phones while having possible conversations. It was the only way I could make a call. Sometimes even that wasn’t enough.
I was “sick” for so many parties and outings while I was growing up. My version of sick was having a panic attack, refusing to leave the house while my mom got pissed and my dad begged/pleaded/threatened. Until then one of them would finally be forced to call and cancel plans. My ex-husband actually took over this horrible, unfair job later.
Now it’s less debilitating, but I am still scared to go out in public or to talk on the phone. I just have worked so hard for so long that I can usually make myself do it anyhow. I never feel like I fit in. I almost always feel self-conscious. I so want to be liked that I try too hard. Which comes across as very unlikable.
I know. Because I often don’t like myself. I don’t like being this way; I don’t like being scared and feeling foolish. I want to be fun and serene and easygoing and light hearted. But then sometimes I wonder, “Who do you think you are to deserve to be those things?!” You know when I said I’ve only felt completely comfortable with two people? I wasn’t accidentally forgetting myself.
I’m still working on being comfortable with me.