Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Little victories – coping with social anxiety July 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:06 am
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Pic Credit

One issue that I’ve always had, to a greater or lesser extent, is phone fear.

Yesterday I had to make a business call.  I wimped out the day before and tried to email the customer service agent, but I never received a reply.  So I had to call.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was fine.  The agent was very nice and very helpful, and had an amazing low voice like Octavia Butler, which endeared her to me.

And I’ve also been answering my phone more consistently, even when it’s a number I don’t recognize.  I’m so used to screening phone calls, or answering necessary ones with huge feelings of fear or shame.  But now – I just answered an 800 number call, and it was for the person who owned the phone number before I got it.  I answered with confidence and strength in my voice.  It felt really good.  It was just a tiny exercise of my agency, but it was good to have that positive reinforcement.  I can use my agency, and it will be ok, and I won’t be yelled at or shamed or ridiculed, and if I am, Fuck Them.  I’ve got other places to be, and people that love me.

My sweet man has been incredibly helpful in my journey towards coping successfully with my social anxiety.  Most of the help, though, has been unintentional on his part.  Yes, the intentional support he gives me is critical – the kind words, the positive affirmations, the hugs and gratitude he expresses when I get out past my comfort zone and achieve something – all of those things are absolutely crucial, and I am very grateful for his work in supporting me in those ways.

But what’s even more important is just being able to hang out with him and observe him interacting with others.  Making mistakes, being too excited, making an off-color joke.  But also seeing him getting  it right – being kind, respectful, funny, smart, knowledgeable.  Realizing that a momentary conversational mistake/miscalculation/weirdness doesn’t have to derail the whole interaction.  Realizing that communicating sincerely and graciously is possible even when you do or say awkward things.  I’m learning so much from his model.  I’m becoming more and more comfortable in this world of other people as I realize that almost everyone I’m likely to interact with out there is like me in some critical ways:  they just want to get through the day with as little stress as possible, and want smooth, warm, and kind interactions as much as I do.

This is a seemingly little victory, this being able to talk on the phone without experiencing crippling fear,  but it’s an important one: a good, healthy step in the right direction.

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Life, the Universe, and Stuff (mainly, depression and coping) May 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 7:14 pm
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Hello, hello, hello!

So, it’s been a month and a week since I’ve posted here.  Battling depression and suchlike.  Writing this blog and journaling does help, but it requires a fairly significant amount of energy, which has been pretty much nonexistent this month.  It’s a stupid catch-22 with depression:  doing the things that make you feel better is great way to cope, but actually having the mental energy to do those things isn’t there, so you just sit at the bottom of the depression pit.  Blegh.

But the mood is lifting, mental energy is finally growing to the point where I can do more than 1 thing a day, like clean AND write!  Yoga And clean!  And Write!  Clean and crochet and yoga and help kid with homework!

Every little is a Big Accomplishment after you’ve had to live at the bottom of the depression pit.

One thing that I’ve really wanted to explore in my writing but didn’t have the energy for this month is my experience attending church these past several weeks.

Yep, I’ve become a regular church goer, and my son is now a choirboy!

Which is weird and strange and odd and oxymoronical due to the fact that I’m a Super Secular Science Person.

But… I’m also an anthropologist.  And a pragmatist.  And heavily influenced by my study of the history and philosophy of the Society of Friends (Quakers)  and experiences in  Friends affiliated schools  (meeting for worship is pretty awesome, actually!)

Going to church is a great way to meet people, of course.  And I chose to attend a small church of the same denomination that my mom and her family belonged to instead of one of the more “cool” churches in town (Unitarian Universalist, for example).

As an anthropologist, I analyze my behavior in this way:  I have a human need to connect to my family and my ancestry through familiar things – and absent their physical presence, I can find connection through rituals and traditions.  And because my mom’s denomination (Lutheran) is not very popular in the US, it tends to attract folks who have established connections the culture and traditions, so there are plenty of midwestern germanic old-school liberal types like my mom and her family  in the congregation.  Folks who are very kind if not greatly effusive, emphasizing practicality and scholarship over spirituality.

So, my “people”, in other words.  My family’s culture.

And because I have social anxiety that’s fairly significant, just this once a week thing has been an enormous energy drain.

But it’s an expense that is starting to become an investment.  The energy I spend to go to church and interact with people is great practice.  It’s a gentle and nurturing environment where I don’t have to be “cool” or show off how witty and hip I am, or demonstrate how intelligent I am, or otherwise prove my worthiness to a group of strangers I want to associate with.  I can just relax and practice socializing, work on my conversation skills, be a bit awkward but still accepted.

In other words, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

So I guess that makes me a secular Lutheran?  Well, why not?  So many of my college friends are secular Jews, so why not a secular Lutheran?

 

 

 

Serene Sunday. And hello! (again!) April 6, 2014

 

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pic credit:  http://www.fakebuddhaquotes.com/you-yourself-must-strive-the-buddhas-only-point-the-way/

Hello again, world!  I’ve been inspired to blog more in the last few weeks over at zisforzener and then, out of the blue, this blog got some attention.  I’d been ignoring this one because it’s a bit more painful.  It was a useful way at the time to write about things to help me get through the emotional and mental abuse I was experiencing with my partner, but it also reminded me too much of that dark time in my life.  But it has been a year exactly since I left her, and I have been wanting to write more about my journey towards self acceptance and lovingkindness, and this is the perfect way to do so.  I want zisforzener  to remain primarily about parenting, of course, and so this blog will be my everything-else blog, my “magpie” blog.  Expect ramblings about buddhism, mindfulness, recovery from abuse, mental illness (depression and social anxiety, mainly), and an occasional poem or short fictional story.  Like I said, “magpie” – all the shiny things, collected here!