Irrational Anxiety17 February, 2012
Tonight was group. I enjoy going to group. I enjoy having the opportunity to be social. Again, I was glad I was there. Well . . . except for the part where I said something stupid and offended someone I admire and respect. That part wasn’t so cool. Now, the moment I realised I had offended him, I apologised and he accepted the apology. Story over, right? Not for me.
Any sane and rational person would see it as a lapse or a mistake and move on from the apology a little wiser. But I am not a sane and rational person. My past has made me a little crazy and fairly irrational. I have been playing the role of the people-pleaser since I was four and first realised who I am and who others think I am are radically disparate. People-pleasing became my life, filling the role so as to escape notice. It was part of my disguise to be the kid who didn’t offend, who kept everyone else happy by denying who I was. It was essential that I not upset people; if I did it could make them upset with me and then they might start questioning things about me and then the truth about who I was would come out and then everyone would be really mad at me.
I lived in the midst of that paranoia for thirty years and it has made me a neurotic mess. I feel like everything rides on my being as non-offensive as possible. If I’m not I risk some ugly part of me getting out and driving anyone close to me away. This is how my relationships, friendships, and marriage ended. The weight of the world (it feels) resides on my being as inoffensive as possible.
When I screwed up and said something offensive, my social anxiety, which is never pleasant under the best of circumstances, erupted with the ferocity of a solar flare. I will spend my weekend regretting the boneheaded comment and imagining how angry this person might still be.
I wish my past hadn’t boned me so seriously.