I may have mentioned once or twenty times that I am the queen of social phobias. I WANT to be a social butterfly, but I am hampered some by the fact that the prospect of being with people sends me running screaming back into my house. I really hate this about myself and it has gotten worse as the years pass. Whether it's at a school function, church, a clothing store, or Bible Study, for crying out loud, imaginary voices are always whispering to me, "Everyone's thinking how weird you are. You don't fit in. You aren't good enough to be here." Logically I know that people have more important things to think about, and they probably aren't giving me more than a passing thought, but that logic doesn't go deep enough to drown out the negative voices.
Don't make the mistake of assuming that those voices are the remnant of some childhood verbal abuse. My parents were loving and supportive and I don't have any idea what is the source of my insecurity. Yes, I'm chubby and I'm disabled but I have always been those things and I haven't always been afraid to leave my house without a shield of husband or children.
These fears create a vicious cycle: I used to be very involved at my church, and as the social anxieties increased, I began to pull away, which of course made me feel more isolated and more anxious, and I pulled farther away. Because I desperately want my children to be involved and because I love my church, I continue to participate but every Wednesday night I leave feeling emotionally wrung-out, and for the wrong reasons. The stress of constantly worrying about what people are thinking about me, as I sit there doing absolutely nothing worthy of anyone's speculation, keeps me from focusing on worship and leaves me unable to, as I keep hearing people say, make the the main thing the MAIN THING.
The suspicion that these feelings are probably sinful does not lower my stress level any either. I do believe that my God knows me and cherishes me and that my Savior died for love of me and that should be sufficient to make me strong enough and bold enough to face the clerks at the supermarket or the other parents at my children's school. My insecurities have robbed me of so many opportunities over the past few years, and that makes me very sad, and I have no one but my own crazy self to blame.
If you've met me in real life, you might be surprised to learn this about me. In my more rational moments I think that in general I come across as reasonably intelligent and easy-going. But I guarantee that I came away from our last interaction second guessing everything I said or did and believing that you'd find an excuse to be unavailable next time I called. If I never called, that's why.
Holy cow, do you know what this post was originally going to be about? How much I love Facebook.