I’m back – and so is the anxiety

I’m back! I thought I’d start writing again, because I still get anxiety and I think it will help. Hopefully it does help and not just make it worse. We’ll see. My anxiety is different now. Really my entire life is different now, for the better I’m hoping. That may be part of what’s causing my anxiety. I don’t know. I figure if I write things down, then maybe I’ll figure it out.

My anxiety isn’t really social anymore, more like general anxiety. I didn’t hear this from a doctor, but that’s what I’m calling it. I got myself a boyfriend now (not Cat Guy, thank God), and I moved in with him a year ago. We started hanging out once Cat Guy stopped coming to Applebee’s as frequently. I noticed him sitting at the end of the bar, usually alone, sipping rum and coke. On Fridays when Cat Guy wasn’t there, I’d go over and sit with him (he works at the same office as we do). The first thing I noticed was that he was incredibly easy to talk to – we could spend hours talking about movies and I would never feel nervous or self conscious at all, which was unusual. We realized we had a lot in common, and the rest was pretty much history. That’s probably the way it should be, right? I was amazed how easy it was after so many years of agonizing over guys who refused to respond to my advances. He had chased after the opposite sex without any response either. So there you go.

So naturally I have to take the best thing that ever happened to me and give myself anxiety over it. A couple of weeks after I moved in, I had a huge anxiety attack. To be fair, I moved out of state to be with him (only an hour away, but still), all my furniture was in storage, and I’d never lived with a man before. Everything was unfamiliar, and I don’t deal with that well. I’ve never really been good with change.

I got a little better after a few weeks, until I got a kidney infection, which hurts like hell I might add. When I went to the hospital they found a massive tumor on my kidney, which meant they had to remove my entire kidney. Luckily the tumor was benign, but I was out of work for a month, and it was hard not to go insane stuck at home the whole time. My beloved was there for me through it all, and I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter man. He says he comes from a family of crazy people, so he can deal with it. He doesn’t always understand, but he’s always patient with me.

The only other anxiety I’ve had until now was in April when we spent a long weekend in Vermont. I panicked a little when we got there, and I’m still not sure why. There wasn’t really anything to worry about. That’s what I hate about anxiety – sometimes you have no idea why the hell you’re anxious. It went away after a day and half, and then I was fine. I guess it was just being so far from home or something.

Last month we decided to get a house together, so for some reason this exciting event is making me anxious. At the end of the month our lease runs out, so in order to save money for the down payment we’re going to live at my beloved’s parent’s house for a few months. So now I have to adjust to two new places. I think I’m worried that I’ll panic again like I did last September. I panicking about the possibility of me panicking. It’s pretty stupid. But it’s important that I write it down and talk about it so I can see more clearly how stupid my worrying is.

My beloved is being very sweet. He wants me to tell him any time I feel the least bit of anxiety. He frequently asks me if I’m okay, if I’m feeling “crazy”, as he calls it, and if I’m happy. He hugs me whenever I need it and always tries to reassure me that everything is going to be okay. Seriously, with a guy like this around it’s a wonder I have any anxiety at all. I’ll have to analyze that more later. For now though, I feel a little better. Sometimes you just have to get things out in the open to realize you have nothing to whine about. Thanks for listening.

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Shift to Positive

I went to Iceland back in October, which is big for me because I’ve never left the U.S. before, with the exception of Canada of course, and everyone thought I wouldn’t have the balls to do it. They scoffed at me, so I proved them all wrong and had a pretty good time out of spite (bwa ha ha!). And I got to experience another culture, which is never a bad thing. I think maybe it was the Iceland trip that triggered this turn-around in my life, since I did something I was afraid of (particularly the airplane ride), and I proved to myself that I could do it even though I was afraid.

I brought a Dr. Phil book with me to read on the plane, as a joke, because I thought it would make my friend laugh. I ended up actually reading a paragraph or two one night because the time change was making it impossible for me to get any sleep, and while I don’t even remember what I read, it got me to thinking about improving my mental well-being. I thought, maybe I don’t have social phobia anymore at all. I had left my friend one night to walk the streets of Reykjavik alone in search of this arcade I saw earlier in the day. I went in, I talked to the dudes working there, I played pinball and Super Mario, and I walked back, alone, in the dark, in an unfamiliar city in a foreign country. Sure, Reykjavik isn’t exactly New York City, but does that sound like something a social phobic would do?

My friend and I also ended up talking to this dude in a bar one night, but I can’t say I enjoyed that very much. I still hate bars, and I still hate crowds. But I’d say I hate those things more than I’m afraid of them. The only time I ever feel legitimately nervous is around a guy I like, and that’s pretty natural, isn’t it? Call it denial, but I think it all comes down to belief. We are what we believe we are. Often I would say awful stuff to myself like “he’s never going to want me”, “I’m not as pretty as her”, “I’m so awkward”, “I can’t do that”, or “I’m going to die alone with only my eighteen cats to mourn me”. Telling myself how lonely and awkward I am is never going to change anything. It only serves to make me feel like shit all the time. That’s no way to live.

I really just needed to shift my way of thinking, and my way of seeing myself, which is something that therapists have been trying to tell me my whole life, but I didn’t quite get. Perhaps I didn’t think I could. So recently I’ve started to appreciate what I have: a great job that pays well, a sweet cat that I love to pieces, my good looks, my health, a warm apartment, good food, and a man I love (even though we’re just friends) that I get to see at work every day, who despite my awkwardness, has still remained my friend. And, I get to hang out with my coworkers at Applebee’s every Friday (that’s where we go now that Uno’s closed.) Socializing once a week seems to be a good fit for me. It doesn’t feel like too much, and at least it gets me out of the house. Life is pretty good. And it’s going to get better. Focus on what’s good, don’t ever focus on what you lack. That’s why that song “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” is so damn uplifting. Listing your favorite things feels awesome, even if it’s stupid shit like door knobs and bright copper kettles.

Just looking at my blog design makes me realize how negative I’ve been. Even the title, “Musings You Won’t Like”, is setting me up for failure. It looks like I’m going to have to rethink a few things on this page. Don’t be surprised if I randomly change it. Anyway, I’m not there yet. I still have lapses into negativity, but I’m starting to notice it more. Noticing your negative thoughts is the first step, because then you can change them.

It may sound corny, but thinking positive thoughts as often as possible, even if they feel like lies, is the only way to go, because after a while, they won’t feel like lies anymore. You will have convinced yourself that they’re the truth, and they will become the truth. Saying I’m just a lonely old spinster cat lady will turn me into just that. As long as I think I’m an awesome, sexy, funny, independent, intelligent woman, then that’s what I’ll be.

 

So where the hell have I been? Well, I was actually planning on abandoning this whole blog thing – honestly I felt a little uncomfortable sharing so many details about my life to strangers online, in addition to the fear that I might be found out, especially by the people I write about. But what the hell, you know? I’ve been doing really well, and I thought maybe now that I’m not having as big a pity party, maybe I could help other people in some way. Because let’s face it, my constant lamentations weren’t helping anyone.

That’s not to say I’m not still totally in love with Cat Guy, because I am, I’m just seeing the whole situation from a different perspective. A more positive perspective. The positivity is imperative now that his girlfriend has finally moved in with him. It’s really amazing how little this bothers me . Is it the end of the world? No. Is my whole life ruined? Nope. The truth is, Cat Guy is a lucky fellow, to have two women in love with him at once, one of which is very attractive and charming. Someone at work told him back in August that I had “the hots” for him, and he had the most adorable response ever. He was flabbergasted and apparently said, “Attractive women never like me.” How cute is that? I, and several of my coworkers, suspect that he has low self esteem and doesn’t believe a woman like me could ever be interested in him, which is why he’s settling for old what’s-her-face. I think that’s a good way to look at it.

Still, he hasn’t treated me any differently – we’re still friends, and we still go to Uno’s together every Friday night. Unfortunately, Uno’s is closing for good next week, I’m sad to say. I am sad because we had some good times there, but I know it will be okay somehow. We can always go someplace else, after all.

In other news, I’ve really opened up at work. People are starting to realize I’m funny. Now that Cat Guy works on a different floor, I went and found a new nerd to talk to in his absence. I call this guy Scooter because he looks like the Muppet of the same name. Everyone at work thinks he’s the most annoying guy on the planet, and he kind of is, so naturally I wanted to be his friend. I tease him relentlessly. I’m almost a bitch to him even. I think he loves it. He even asked the supervisor if he could work with me on the image scanner. I’ve been using him to boost my self esteem, which sounds awful I know, but I’m going with what works. I should clarify, my teasing is all in good fun, I would never say anything like, “ha ha, your mom has breast cancer, loser!”. I don’t want to be hurtful, because I know that people have treated Cat Guy like that in his youth, and it really bothers me. So work is pretty fun now, and my anxiety levels have been relatively low.

Well that’s all for now. Hopefully it won’t take me another six months to post an update.

 

 

Back From A Hiatus

I wasn’t planning on coming back to this blog, because quite frankly, the life of a social phobic isn’t all that interesting, and I was beginning to think things were getting stale. Really, not a whole lot has been happening lately, and I couldn’t very well keep posting the same stuff about going to Uno’s and making awkward conversation with Cat Guy. It gets old, you know?

Of course that’s not going to stop me from posting about him this time. What the fuck else do I have in my life? Recently Cat Guy moved on up at work and is now on the second floor in another department, so I don’t see him anymore, with the exception of our weekly trips to Uno’s, which have become even more important to me. I could very well have applied to work up there too, but it’s probably better this way. I have less anxiety when I don’t have to worry about running into him all the time. Now I save all my anxiety for Fridays.

Last night there was a huge development at the Uno’s, which is the main reason why I’m writing this. With absolutely no warning, he decided to bring her. That’s right, his girlfriend is in town this week and he thought it would be a good idea to bring her to our place and introduce her to everyone. Oh, fantastic!

bette

I ignored them when they came in. I had assumed he wasn’t coming this week, so I sat at the bar with my friend M and had a Mountain Dew spiked with Bacardi Limon (delicious). He came up behind me and acknowledged M, and I knew I couldn’t very well ignore him forever, so I turned ever so slightly, just so I could face him and not her, and I said hello to him. Then he said to me, “Turn around,” as though seeing his girlfriend there would somehow be a pleasant surprise for me, the poor, oblivious bastard.

morgan

A large, round young woman stood before me, with a plain looking face and long, stringy orange-red hair. I forced a smile using all the acting skills I had inside me and said, “You must be [She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named]”. She asked me my name, and I told her as she shook my hand. Her hands were rough, I noticed, and she smiled sweetly at me. There was no territorial rage in her eyes, no acknowledgement of competition. I tried to keep the murder out of mine. I swear, playing nice and shaking her hand like that was the most difficult act I have ever performed.

Cat Guy then asked her if she wanted to sit down, and they did, in a booth right behind me and M. (Funny she didn’t get introduced to our other coworkers…) M could see that I was in a special kind of hell, so he did his best to distract me by talking to me about his grandparents. At last call I asked the bartender for a shot of whiskey, which I threw back rather dramatically. I hate shots, but it seemed like a good time for one. I chatted with M, more loudly than usual perhaps, while trying to ignore what was happening behind me.

They left after about forty-five minutes. When it’s just me and Cat Guy, we’re always the last ones there, and the bartender has to nicely ask us to leave. When they were gone the bartender told me they mostly just sat there playing with their phones, speaking only a few times to each other and never showing any affection whatsoever. In fact, they interacted even less than he and I usually do! For two people who haven’t seen each other in several months, you’d think they’d have more to say, and you’d think they’d want to interact with each other instead of their phones. Makes me wonder if she’s as autistic as he is?

The restaurant manager informed me a little later that the strange red-headed girl had been sitting there with her phone up and pointed in the direction of the bar, as if to take pictures. He had discussed it with the bartender because he thought it was peculiar. Was she taking pictures of me? I can’t be sure, but I hope she was because that means she’s a total fucking psycho.

I’m not upset like I thought I would be. I always assumed I’d cry all the way home, but I ended up laughing more. It’s become clear to me recently how foolish he’s being, and it’s even clearer now. She’s going back home on Tuesday, and there’s still no word on when she’ll be around for good. It doesn’t seem like she wants to move in with him at all. And it makes me mad because she’s torturing him by forcing him to go months without physical contact (which a man needs), and it in turn makes him cranky, and when she does show up they barely even interact with each other! I know I only saw a glimpse into their relationship, but Jesus Christ, even I can make him put his phone down and get him talking better than she can! If you get him going on the right topic, he’ll even slip the phone back into his pocket! As his girlfriend, she should know that about him. But then I’ve probably had more face-to-face time than she has.

My point is, I’m right in front of him, I’m crazy about him, I’m more attractive than her, I would move across state lines to be with him in a heartbeat, and he’s wasting his damn time. My hairdresser thinks he’s settling for her because he doesn’t think he can get a woman like me. I can believe that. He seems utterly clueless about my affection for him, but that’s going to change. The time has come for action. Next Friday happens to be my birthday, so I don’t want to do it then just in case he freaks out on me and ruins my birthday, so we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll have the balls.

Strangers

I’m not a big fan of strangers, which I think is obvious by now. I don’t know if normal people are like this, but I’d prefer it if strangers didn’t come within five feet of me. That’s my comfort zone. When people enter it I tense up and subconsciously lean my body in the opposite direction. I have this problem a lot at the gym. I hate it when people use the machine right next to me, especially when there are plenty of other machines elsewhere. The worst is when I’m using the machine that requires you to spread your legs open, and a creepy older man sits down next to me. See I’m paranoid and always assume the guy’s a pervert. Last week one dude had the audacity to come up to me and show me a better way to work out my biceps, touching my arm in the process! He was all like, “It’s cool, my girlfriend’s right over there.” Yes, and I’m sure she’s terribly pleased with you right now. Good Jesus. Look, I know I look hot in spandex, but really. I’m just trying to work on my fitness here.

Anyway, tonight I actually went out. The choir I used to sing in was having their spring concert, and I was looking forward to seeing it, as well as seeing some of my fellow singers. While I sitting there waiting for the concert to start, a handsome young brown-eyed man sat beside me. Naturally I was excited, especially when he started making small talk with me. I told him I used to sing in the choir, and that’s when he told me his wife was a soprano. Whoops! Oh well, we had a nice little conversation anyway. I can see why this fellow is married already – he has no trouble speaking to strange women. I felt awkward, but I think if that guy was single I’d probably have gotten a date out of him if I played my cards right.

Afterwards I walked down Main St. to a popular hot dog joint and got myself some deep fried goodness. It was crowded as all hell there since it’s a Saturday night, and again I felt awkward, but it was okay. I sat alone on a bench outside while I ate. Sometimes it’s nice to be out in public, seeing old friends and enjoying the warm summer air.

I think I’ll spend Sunday being anti-social now. I can only take so much at once, you know? Last night I went out with Cat Guy to Uno’s. He had his walls up again, which was a little disappointing because we conversed so easily last time. Eventually he started playing pinball on his phone quietly, occasionally cursing at it or glancing up at me as I sat there awkwardly. At some point, thankfully, he sighed in frustration at his phone and handed it to me so I could play too. It’s annoying, but I’ve been really trying to think positively lately, and I think I’ve convinced myself that his strange behavior isn’t a reflection on me – it’s just his own mental illness. I know this because we do have fun together when he’s running at 100 percent, and he hasn’t stopped coming out with me. Last week I told him I wasn’t coming because I had a stomach ache, but I changed my mind and turned the car around at the last minute because I decided I didn’t care how badly my stomach hurt, I couldn’t miss out on hanging out with him. To my surprise, when I showed up, he was sitting in our booth all alone playing with his phone instead of sitting with someone else. I guess that’s kind of flattering. I usually find someone else to sit with when he isn’t there, so I find it odd that he didn’t do the same. It sort of makes me feel special somehow. It’s important to remember that things aren’t always as shitty as I sometimes think they are.

Progress

It’s very hard feeling so much emotion and not being able to express it. I don’t know if it’s the social phobia or what, but I tend to get this feeling every Friday night (well, technically it’s early Saturday morning…). I was driving behind Cat Guy after leaving Uno’s tonight, and I found myself talking out loud to his car as though he could hear me, just expressing my feelings like I wanted to do minutes before, but couldn’t. It has to come out eventually, when he’s actually in front of me, not 1000 feet away in another vehicle, out of earshot. It will.

In other news, I’ve been trying so very hard to manage my negative thoughts. Something interesting happened at work today – a lady I work with asked me if I wanted to train a new person, and I said I’d rather not because I’m not very good at it, and R is much more friendly and sociable than I am, and she responded with, “Aw, you shouldn’t talk about yourself like that.” Fascinating.¬†Am I really that negative? Are normal people positive all the time? How the hell are they doing it? I sure would like to know.

I’ve been struggling all week just to think like a normal, rational, confident person, and it’s exhausting. I actually have a headache. First, I downloaded this app for my phone called Happify, which is supposed to be scientifically proven to help get rid of negative thinking. I haven’t used it enough yet to tell you if it works, but I’ll get back to you on it. Also, I started writing encouraging thoughts in a notebook every day, written in the second person point of view so it seems like someone else is talking to me, because for some reason it works better that way. I write things like “Everything is okay. You are beautiful. People think you are funny.” (I saw a character on “Grey’s Anatomy” do this years ago, back before that show got awful). I also went to the store and bought a pocket sized notebook that I can keep with me at work to write positive thoughts in.

The third thing I did is buy an mp3 player. It’s a cheap one that only plays music, since we’re not allowed to have any sort of camera or portable internet access at work, so I’m not able to use my iPod. I put a bunch of my favorite songs on it and listen to it while I’m working, which not only reduces my anxiety and puts me in a good mood, it also drowns out the sound of Cat Guy talking to women who aren’t me. This is something I’ve had a really hard time with, and it’s so ridiculously petty to be bothered by it. Not only am I jealous, but I’m also afraid he’s going to talk about his girlfriend and my self esteem will take a hit. So until I can figure out a way to get the hell over it, I’m just going to drown it out.

I guess I’m making progress. The weather is getting warmer too, so that helps immensely. Getting outside and going for walks on my break is very helpful. I’m getting there.

A little encouragement goes a long way

Last weekend Cat Guy’s girlfriend was in town. Okay, he never actually told me this, but I used context clues…i.e. he took two days off and he barely spoke to me when he was at work. It wasn’t until yesterday that we had what I would consider a conversation (okay, we watched cartoons in his cubicle and giggled like thirteen year-olds). Anyway, I ended up sitting at the bar alone at Uno’s last Friday, which I expected, since I guess he’d rather have hot fat people sex than have awkward conversation with me. Fine, whatever. At first I was relieved to get a break from the effort it takes to carry a conversation with him, and the anxiety that comes with it, but after sitting there alone for a little while sipping my Mountain Dew and barely speaking to anyone, I started to miss him terribly. Then I got sad. Then I had this horrible urge to start crying. I left before the waterworks started, because I do not cry in public.

I didn’t really have anyone to talk to because both M and R were talking in their own respective groups which I would have felt awkward about joining. When I first got there I made a bit of small talk about work with this one fellow – I don’t ever have a chance to talk to this guy at work because he works in a restricted area that I’m not allowed in, and all I ever get to do is smile at him or wave as I walk past his room, so it was nice to actually talk to him a bit. I’m calling him Plan B. This guy is a total geek. Someone told me he draws comic books. I’m considering him my back up plan if all should go completely to hell with Cat Guy. But I’m not about to drop Cat Guy and shift all my focus to Plan B. I don’t love him like I love Cat Guy. Also he reminds me of a cousin that I hate, so I don’t know if I could ever get past that. Christ knows I don’t need another crush. I’m not doing this to myself again, so you know.

I digress. I was depressed after leaving Uno’s, and cried all the way home. Luckily I had the whole weekend to regroup, and by Monday I was back to my old self again, better even. I recalled something my therapist said way back when I first started seeing him. We were talking about how I never received any sort of encouragement from my parents in my childhood, and that’s where all my self doubt comes from. He suggested I sort of imagine my Aunt Liana in my head giving me the missing encouragement, because she’s one of the few people who believed in me. But I decided that my Aunt Liana in real life isn’t super great at encouragement either, and plus she annoys the crap out of me sometimes, so I made someone up. Sort of a fake mother figure, based partly on my best friend (who truly cares about me and always gives me excellent advice), and partly on Beyonc√©, because she’s a strong independent female, and I respect that. This fake mother of sorts is there to nurture my inner child and give me what I never got when I was an actual child.

As stupid as all that sounds, I felt excellent this week. See, I don’t believe positive thoughts in my head if I’m the one thinking them, but if I imagine someone else saying them to me, then I will believe…for some reason. My brain is funny that way. At some point in the week my fake mother suggested I tell Cat Guy how I feel about him, something I considered before but never took seriously. I’ve always deeply regretted that I didn’t give him an honest answer when he asked me about my feelings last November, so why don’t I just do it now? Especially now that he isn’t having panic attacks anymore and he seems to be in a much better mental state than he was last fall. I made the excuse that work would be awkward, since rejection was guaranteed, and I have no idea what effect it would have on our friendship. On the other hand, he recently applied for a job on the second floor, and if he gets it, I would likely almost never see him, so it wouldn’t matter if things were awkward. We’d really only see each other at Uno’s. It would take a huge load of pressure off me. I could finally concentrate on my work. Now I’m really hoping he gets that job. I told myself if he does, then I will definitely have to tell him that I like him.

He showed up at Uno’s tonight, and things went okay. Things are always a little rocky the Friday after the girlfriend leaves. It’s harder to get him talking, and he’s even more awkward than usual. I could sit here all night and overthink this, and I would probably still come to the wrong conclusion. It’s like he’s trying to keep me at a safe distance, maybe because he doesn’t want to develop feelings for me, or maybe he doesn’t want me to develop feelings for him. Hmm…I wonder what he’d do if he knew those feelings were already there?