It started with my congratulating this gorgeous, radiant, curvy woman on her pregnancy. You know not to do that, right? Especially if a woman has not told you directly from her mouth that she is having a baby? Even if you were previously a childbirth doula and have always recognized the “glow” and have never ever before been wrong??
I was wrong.
She wasn’t pregnant! Even though she looked 8 months pregnant! I knew better! Even gave others advice not to comment on other’s possible pregnancy. Doh! I made an awkward situation for both her and myself and she is someone that’s going to continue to be in my life as an authority figure type.
Here’s what I did. I removed myself from her presence saying to myself, Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Then I went back to her apologized, self- depreciated (if done in the right way self- deprecation is a great tool) and lied and told her people have told me I look pregnant before. “Lie” because while I have a bit of a pudgy belly atm I haven’t looked pregnant since I actually was 8 months pregnant. Fortunately this smoothed it over with her but, SHIT!
Second example, I’d been noticing a skater at the rink who was obviously a derby girl and I’ve been admiring the graceful way she skates for months (I skate at the rink every Monday).
We happened to be at the water fountain at the same time and when I saw her face I was excited that I recognized her. Hey, I know you – we tried out for derby together in January! She looked a little shocked, showing no recognition, and then said noncholantly, I dunno, maybe and skated off.
She had been at the same derby tryouts, and we had talked multiple times during the event, but I had injured myself during tryouts and couldn’t continue whereas she apparently eventually made the team. To see her awkward skating from January to the skating level she is at now was exciting to me. I thought about how the two other girls who I had also tried out with made the team and when I congratulated them they appeared not to recognize me as well. I felt… Invisible.
It’s hard for me to realize not everyone remembers people’s faces like I do. I log most people into an “important” category in my brain. These girls were important because I had been agoraphobic for years and trying out for derby was very important to me, therefore these girls were important to me. More on my previous agoraphobia in a minute.
The third recent example where I screwed up socially was today after my kids’ swim lessons. We stayed later even though we weren’t supposed to because we don’t have a membership to the Y. A man walked up to me, introduced himself as the aquatic director and said, Do you have a minute? I felt extreme panic and I roughly said, NOW? No.
My reaction was due to my perception of him. His whole persona screamed SALES to me and my reaction to that is always fight or flight.
I became irrational. I was rude. I feel like shit about it because the reality is I had no idea what he was actually going to say and I just shut him down.
He may not have known it. None of these people know that inside I’m torturing myself, analyzing what I’m doing right or wrong in these interactions. Feeling the extreme pain of disconnection that is now evident as I’m actually trying to be social.
My wise mind tells me that this’ll get easier and one day I won’t analyze so much or be so self-conscious. Just like there fact that 4 years ago I couldn’t even grocery shop due to my agorophobia but now I’m out and about every day with no thought of it. I’ll get there.
How I became agorophobic was a result of withdrawing from the Church due to spiritual abuse. That combined with clinical depression and an introverted personality, grew into a monster which I’ve been fighting to free myself from the past 3 years. Fortunately I’m winning the fight, but it feels like I’m failing.
Because now what is happening is that instead of wanting to hide I want to be seen and loved.
The above image is only what I think I must look like, but the reality is I have a calm exterior and I’m someone people don’t notice. Unless they are trying to manipulate me in someway.
Thoughts? What are some awkward social situations you’ve been in?