There’s a great many things I’ve learned these numerous months on leave from work. These discoveries are paving my road of recovery, and I can feel that I’m on the mend. But my greatest test is still to come — the great hurdle of overcoming my life-long pain of social anxiety. Unpacking it is a great burden, but at the same time, liberating.
I have rarely felt comfortable around people, even those who feel closest to me. I’m easily disappointed in social situations, and force myself to be interested in someone else when in reality I’m focusing so much on trying the make the encounter a pleasant one. It’s as if my whole being has been made up by what I have been told to do and be. Now it’s made up of what I imagine people are telling me to do and be. When I’m not being told, I don’t know what to do with myself. I function alone. It has always been my modi operandi for as long as I can remember. Come to think of it, it pretty much sums up how my family interacts.
I was watched Sesame Street last week, and they posed a social problem for children — where each child insisted that their game was the best and started arguing about it. And my immediate reaction was panic. I didn’t know the answer to that simple social dilemma. Another lesson came on in the next episode, kids wanting to play two different games and arguing about it. And again I paniced. I didn’t know the answer. Actually, I did have an answer, but it was a poor one — play my game alone without them. That’s pretty much sums up my answer to every social dilemma that I face. If you don’t what to do it with me, I’m on my own.
Countering it, when it’s the only life I’ve known, feels impossible most of the time. Paddy, my psychologist, told me at the end of my last session, “Do what you want to do.” It’s a phrase that mystifies me. What is that? I really don’t know. And yet, that phrase puts peace in my soul. Do what I want to do? Is that really allowed? And exactly what is that anyway? I know why he said it. It’s the right thing to do at this point of my recovery. But I only know what it means, not what it is.
I’ve discovered now for a couple of years that I sincerely have no idea what I love. After some painstaking search, playing the piano is the only answer I have so far. My true voice, and my release. And with that one discovery, I have learned discipline and decisiveness. I discovered that there are people that I do not want to associate with, and that I don’t need to be afraid to actively seek out friendships that would be life-giving.
I am on a road of recovery. I am thankful that my feet have finally found that path. I can handle a long journey, as long as I am allowed to go slow and look around. I am looking for my loves. Let’s start with a new blog “What I Love” and see where this takes me. And hopefully, eventually, I will find the courage to see a friend.