Social anxiety makes you feel like you aren't worth knowing.
It makes you feel invisible, unimportant and alone. It has always made me feel like whether or not I was in the room wouldn't make a difference.
Having children has increased this feeling significantly. Most people who have had kids knows the following feel well: that as soon as you give birth, you disappear.
I get it: your priorities and schedule change dramatically literally overnight and you can no longer go out for a few beers or a coffee and a catch-up at the drop of a hat. Or at least without significant planning and aligning of schedules!
But here's where the Parent Friends swoop in. People with kids, busy schedules and sick down their shirt. Angels who don't judge you for that mystery stain or your sudden flakiness - I'm well versed in having to drop plans because of unexpected naps and tantrums.
I've never felt more loved and accepted than after an interaction with my mama friends.
But then my old friend Social Anxiety creeps under the door.
Suddenly I'm questioning whether my mama friends actually like me. Whether they're only tolerating me and I find myself analysing every message and interaction with them for any hint of annoyance or apathy. Why did they use a full stop there? Why only 'x' at the end? (sounds so trivial and silly, right?) Are they mocking me? Are they laughing at me behind my back? Do they even like my kids??
And I withdraw.
I'd rather be invisible than an annoyance.
And I know it's mostly in my head but who wants to be friends with someone who doesn't even reply to your texts?
And the cycle keeps going. Why would they be my friend when I'm obviously so shit at it? When they now obviously feel I don't care. (spoiler alert: its because I care ~way too much~)
When you say you miss them but your social anxiety tells you they don't miss you at all.
I touched upon this briefly in my previous post: that I can already see socially anxious traits in my 2.5 year old. He's nervous in new situations and needs reassurance and hates to be made to seem stupid or wrong. It upsets him greatly if he has a negative experience with anyone. And it hurts because more than anything I see myself in those traits that he is already exhibiting.
And I know it's my fault.
I did that to him.
Because of how I am in new situations.
I didn't take him to many baby groups because it was too much for me. They made me uncomfortable and I didn't realise that I was damaging him and his social skills because of it.
And don't even get me started on the mama guilt that’s being dragged along with that. That's another post for another day...
Let's get back to the flakiness. I'm constantly wanting to hang out with my friends. I love people, generally. But my social anxiety is screaming at me every second to cancel plans, cancel them right now, no one wants to see you, they'd prefer if you weren’t there. Don't go. Make up an excuse. DON'T GO.
Even now, I have an evening event that I'm actually really excited to go to but my brain is telling me to make up an excuse and stay home. Isn't that wild?
I'm making myself go and I know for a fact I'll have a great time and I'll see friends I care about deeply and who care about me!
It's a battle every day to remind myself that I am loved and that my friends do like me. That being flaky doesn't mean they hate you. It just means you've have to work harder on loving yourself.