Yes, we were at that meeting the other day together — I’m the one who didn’t talk. You might have noticed the sheen of sweat that gathered on my forehead as time went on. I watched everyone carefully and if we met eyes, I smiled at you. And then probably turned my body slightly away from you, a body signal designed to discourage small talk. I was scared of you — an irrational emotion – but there just the same. I sat and tried very hard to not be overwhelmed by the number of people in the room, the noise level that made it difficult to focus and the rising fear descending over me.
Maybe I’m the one who made the play date and at the last minute chickened out. Or I did go, but was too nervous to make plans for a new one even though I enjoyed the company.
Especially if you caught me during PMS. Because for that week or so, I am convinced that the entire world hates me.
I don’t hate you.
I really do, at times, think that you will hate me. Not for any specific reason. Logically, I know that I am a good and caring person. Most people would describe me as kind, thoughtful and even sometimes a little funny. I am loyal and trustworthy and extremely non-judgmental. And even if we have already been friends for years and you are used to my strange ways and I know that you love me — I could still think for a short while — that you hate me.
If you make me try to see you in person too often though, before I feel safe with you — I can withdraw and come up with reasons not to go out. And if I do force myself to go, I will stumble over my words and sweat bullets in your presence. The phone can be difficult also. I have auditory processing issues, throwing in the high anxiety and ADHD, focusing on your words can prove to be an insurmountable task. Texting is better, but I hate it for being so impersonal. (I do know how contradictory I sound.)
Email is good. Usually. I can answer at my leisure and take my time deciding what and how to say things. Unless there is a hint of pressure. Then I may not open my mailbox for an entire week in fear that there will be notes from you.
Facebook is fantastic. With over 700 *friends* and almost 5,000 liked pages (there’s that ADHD thing showing), my news-feed is very crowded. I will often have to visit individual pages to find out what has been going on in your life. I cannot feel pressured on FB… it is a safe zone for me.
I do social things for my children. I will take a half (or a whole) Xanax to do that class party or like last year, teach those Meet the Master sessions or take them to your child’s birthday party.
And if you are nice enough to try with me and we hang out more than twice, you can hear the echoes of Sally Field in my head: They like me. They really like me.
What should you do if you come across a face similar to mine at the next PTA meeting or at the gym? You see the fear in her eyes, gauging the distance from where she sits to the nearest door to escape from and… you realize that she is like me. Just be yourself which will allow her to feel safer. Be okay with being the one to make the bulk of the plans in the beginning. Meet her at the park or for a quiet lunch, nothing too crowded. And if she chickens out with only a few hours notice, please don’t be so quick to give up. If she is really like me, then you can wind up making a lifelong friend that will always be there for you.
xoxo ~ Melissa