I had an event to attend last night which’d given me massive pre-social anxiety. It’s one of those things that you feel morally obligated to attend, but you don’t want to, because you imagine that the amount of fun you’ll have is akin to having a root canal without anaesthetic. (Though I’ve actually done that before, and it’s seriously not that bad…)
Here’s how I act before one of these obligatory-feeling social events:
- Refusing to commit, which is stupid and selfish, since if I know myself well enough, of course I will end up going, it’s inevitable
- Dragging heels till the last minute
- Asking the kids if they want to do the thing (the answer is always no)
- More dragging heels, with slight immoral justification creeping in (“even the kids don’t want to go!”)
- Knowing we do in fact have to go (“But why?” Shout the kids. Duty, kindness, doing the next right thing, etc. “But why?” Shout the kids…)
- Having a great time. (Amazing how that works out, when your expectations are at root-canal level.)
I’m finding that saying no to drinks in social situations is not hard for me these days. Rather, the anxiety now comes mainly from wondering how to deal with folks who might question why I’m not drinking.
To cope with this, I decided, in advance, not to offer unasked-for information. When I was offered a drink the first time, I said I’d brought my own, which I had. Whipped a near-beer out of my bag, opened it on the spot, “cheers,” clinking their drink, and took a swig. Not sure if they even realized it was near-beer. Which was perfectly fine with me.
I was offered champagne several times. Real champagne. Some folks had just come back from a holiday in that region, and were sharing a bit of the wealth. Still, no urge on my part.
Typically, I don’t like to say no, and I do like to be one of the crowd at parties, but I truly had no urge to drink wine. In fact, I was relieved — one hundred percent relieved, that I would not be the one attempting to delicately drink a glass slowly, and then be obsessed with the wish for more. And more and more.
I just said no thanks, every time I was asked by a new person, and contrary to my usual urge to babble out explanations in response to anyone’s quizzical looks, I remained silent on the topic after that. This goes completely against my habit energy, and felt refreshing, because I was doing what *I* felt like doing instead of doing what I thought someone else might wish I’d do (and perhaps getting it wrong. Usually getting it wrong, in fact).
In the end, no one asked! But if they had, I would have given one of the truthful but simplified small-talk answers I’d mentally prepared:
- I feel happier without it.
- I was finding that drinking wine increased my anxiety levels the next day. I thought I’d try going without alcohol and seeing how that felt. So far, it feels really good overall.
Today, guess what! I have no post-social anxiety. None at all, whatsoever. Before, I would have pre-social anxiety AND post-social anxiety. So this is improvement. I can only guess it will get better from here, if I continue this experiment, day by day.
Such a fun session playing badminton with my eldest boy this afternoon. Good workout too. I thought a lot of the skills I learned could be applied to maintaining sobriety as well, so I’ll note them here.
- Keep your eye on the birdie. Anticipate where it might fly. Plan accordingly.
- It’s you and the birdie, you and the birdie, you and the birdie. At first it will be hard to hit it just right but it will get easier and easier. Also, more people will start to join in when they see how good things look from the sidelines.
- Don’t get too proud if things are going fantastically. The minute you start to fluff up your feathers, is the minute you’ll lose concentration and miss the next birdie.
- Tune out distracting remarks from the peanut gallery. Keep your eyes on the birdie.
- No self-judgement, nor judgement of the other players, nor even of the peanut gallery people. Just peripheral observation so that you remain aware of what’s going on. And focus on the birdie. The freedom of it against the sky.
- If you fail, try, try again. Practice makes better.
- Belief that this one little moment is the only one that matters.
Yawn… going to bed. Have family coming this weekend. Big prep and clean tomorrow.
Oh, some news! We got a new pool to replace the poor old battered one. Upgraded model. We set it up on Monday. It’s one of those ones with steel sides. I thought it would look tacky but it’s just fab. It’s a foot deeper than the old inflatable-ring model, and way more tidy and solid and easier to keep clean. And it looks like a turquoise jewel in the yard. So we’re all happy and grateful about that.
Hope you’re all well.