Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paralyzed by fear

Dark Mother brought up something in the comments about putting things off instead of just doing them so instead of writing a book in the comment section, I thought I would address it here. 

I have had a fear of failure all my life.  Not a normal fear that I might fail.  A debilitating fear that has left me paralyzed at times and unable to move forward.  I did manage to overcome it at times, like when I joined the Navy or when I moved across country to live with a boyfriend who turned out to be a real jerk.  Or several years ago when I sang solos in church or was part of the drama team...mostly behind the scenes though.

But I have had intervals when I just couldn't move forward.  Like now.  I was in therapy for a while for a variety of reasons and we touched on this but nothing much came of any kind of treatment.  Now I seem to be in paralysis again, unable to leave the house except for my safe places and safe people.  For some reason, the people at Wendy's make me comfortable and I'll drop in there frequently for a soda or a salad or a cup of chili, just to have someone to talk to or a safe place to read a book. 

I can shop, go to the doctor, library and several other places, but the thought of going to the Pagan Pride Day picnic fills me with abject terror at the notion of driving there and walking into a group of people I don't know.  Several years ago I went to a knitting night at a nearby town's yarn store and ended up leaving sick to my stomach because no one spoke to me.  It's been one of the problems I've had ever since I left the Navy and became a stay at home mom.  Finding friends has been a horrendous experience.  Moreso now that I no longer have a church to attend.

Not that I found friends there.  I was talking to Zach last night and told him that I knew I had to leave our fundie church when I stopped "greeting" people and discovered that no one came to "greet" me.  In 5+ years at that church, I walked away without a single phone call from anyone.  I would run into some people from time to time and they would be friendly, but no one called to find out what was wrong or why we left.  It was as if we had never existed.

This adds to my difficulties in finding friends because I expect that kind of treatment from everyone.  When I talk of not being able to make friends, I don't mean that I'm just shy.  I mean that I become physically ill at the thought of opening my mouth and introducing myself or beginning a conversation.  Abject terror.  Irrational fears.

I don't know why it's gotten worse as I've gotten older but I'm nearly a recluse now.  Even maintaining relationships online is a struggle for me, as Tana will attest.  I disappear from time to time, withdrawing from everyone because I just can't cope with the intensity of being in a friendship.

So it's not just that I can't move forward and get things done.  I am paralyzed at times and can't even live life. I thought last night what a shame it's been that I lost the last 10 years of my life hiding inside myself.  I wish I knew the answer to solving this problem.

The bright light in this dark period of my life has been the path my spirituality has taken.  I have found refuge in the arms of Danu and the strength of Cernnunos and the creativity of Lugh.  Now it is up to me to lean on that strength and not just allow myself to move forward but to push myself outside my comfort zone.  I still have that abject terror but it's easier knowing I'm not alone.



  1. Have you ever read anything on "social anxiety"? It can be quite debilitating and it sort of sounds like what you're going through.

  2. No, I haven't...but I'll sure look it up and investigate it. Thanks!

  3. I was thinking just what Debra was thinking. It may be something worth looking into.

    Hugs to you my friend. We all have our issues, and talking about them (at least for me) helps keep me from losing my shit completely.

  4. Thanks, Dark Mother. I swear if it wasn't for you guys and Tana, I would be a total mess. It helps not only to talk it out, but to be heard.

  5. That must be very difficult. I agree with the others to look into social anxiety because what you describe sounds like that to me (for what knowledge I have).
    I have a huge fear of not being noticed and it makes it really hard for me to jump into groups. I tend to stay on the fringe and never get involved. I too have noticed that as I get older making friends is tougher and tougher. I'm currently in the process of trying to do it all over again right now to only so so result.
    Hugs and hope that you can find some answers/solutions that help you. :)

  6. Thanks, Velody. I have trouble finding groups that have the same interests although I should start at the library. They frequently have lecturers there from Dept of Natural Resources or other Nature-minded people. Plus they have knit-outs and such from time to time. I always intent to go and my fear takes over and I end up not going. I've got to overcome my fears though and dive in somehow. I'm going to research social anxiety because I swear it sounds like what I've got. Thanks for commenting!

  7. I get social anxiety too, as does my husband, so it's very easy for us to stay home instead of force ourselves to go out. Being at home also can cement the comforting feeling of not being in the world, at least for me. I've always had a difficult time making lots of friends although I realized that once I moved to an area where lots of like-minded people (liberal, crunchy) lived, I found that I relaxed A LOT. It's liberating to realize people aren't judging you, something I think a lot of us have a hard time seeing since so many do judge. Also, there are books are introverts that helped me see that there's nothing wrong with getting exhausted or feeling depleted when with others. We're not anti-social, just sensitive. Hope this helps!

  8. I live in a very conservative, evangelical/fundamentalist area so my prospects for finding like-minded people are low. There is a Pagan group about an hour away but I have to overcome that anxiety to get there. Plus I don't like to drive in heavy traffic areas and Madison is pretty heavy with the traffic. I know I need to kick this thing because I'm pretty lonely. I'm finally realizing that this isn't something I can just "get over" though, so I'm looking for ways to overcome it some other way.

    I appreciate your insights so much, Sonia. I like looking at it like I'm not anti-social, just sensitive. I like that a lot.