I like Prosecco. It is an Italian dessert kind and one of the few wines I’ll drink. Actually it is one of the few alcoholic drinks I’ll bother with. You don’t get the headache that can come with champagne, but you can still enjoy the bubbles. I am not usually a big drinker though. It’s a two-fold reasoning… one is the I’ve Been There Done That kind of attitude that comes when someone does a fair share early in life and the other is about control. There has been so much of my life that has been out of my control both because of other people and my own mind’s betrayals, that I don’t always see the fun in it.
With that said, I used to go to Wine Night on a lot of Wednesdays with a great group of people at a wine bar that offered a formal tasting. I loved the learning, the grown-up conversations and the place was small which prevented overcrowding. Over time Wednesday Wine Night has grown in number and changed in venue, but the same beautiful core has stayed pretty steady. I rarely go any longer for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because it is just too hard for me. Too many people that I don’t know coupled with a usual lack of an anchor person to go with me, make attending impossible. An anchor person is someone who doesn’t judge my irrational fears, puts up with my quirks and I can focus on for much of the evening. Doing this makes the crowd fade to something I can manage.
And when I say irrational, I truly mean that. While I am not super close with anyone, the people who go are kind, loving, beautiful souls who would never hurt me in any way on purpose. Yet, the cacophony of voices that rise above the already packed noisy restaurant can make me terrified of everyone. I have written before about being The Face of Social Anxiety.
While the generic Adderall has been such a blessing in so many ways, it has served to create a higher anxiety level especially with the Agoraphobia part. Leaving the apartment is still not an option most days unless I plan it well in advance. The spontaneous part of me that I loved so much has pretty much disappeared.
I had to plan going to this week’s Wednesday Wine Night three weeks ahead of time, so that it was on the calendar in the kitchen forcing me to accept it a little each day. To further lock me into doing it, I picked this week in particular because it was days away from my sister’s birthday who is close to most of the group. I let the amazing couple who handle hosting duties know that I would be bringing a cake in honor of her big day. My best friend agreed to join me and I was confident that having her as my anchor would allow it all to go perfectly.
I failed miserably and I don’t think even my best friend realized the depth of my struggles. It was wonderful to see everyone again and to have them all be so welcoming was a gift. By the time my sister arrived over an hour after I did, the party had grown to many more than I had anticipated. Which would be a fantastic thing for most people and I was glad that so many showed for her birthday. For me though, I could barely make out the roar of the crowd over the screaming in my head. Sweating profusely, I could not track a single conversation. I hoped feverishly that I was nodding and smiling in the right places. As we sang to her and she blew out her candles, I got to have a moment of peace as I was filled with love for her. It was mere seconds of a reprieve though and I hated that I wasn’t able to offer to help cut the cake much less walk around to offer slices to everyone. I stuck with handing her plates as she sliced while I wished the floor would just open up and swallow me.
My BFF and I planned ahead of time for a break. We would walk across the street to another restaurant to visit someone working there that she knew so I would have a change of scenery. It would allow me a chance to breathe if I was overwhelmed. Just as I was nudging her that it was time to go, not only did another old friend come in (a second anchor in a way), but she got a phone call with bad news about a loved one. We wound up leaving rather abruptly as I tried to switch roles to be the one to offer comfort to her.
We stayed away from the party longer than we planned. We had found a corner of the pub that was away from the bulk of the patrons and had no real foot traffic. As we talked over our middle school years, she was distracted for a short time and I was glad to see some smiles. There were still times that I couldn’t hear the conversation as I had to work around so many emotions that were being triggered that night, but being able to focus on only two or three people at a time meant sometimes a smile broke through my own Adderall Serious Face once in a while too.
We went back across the street only briefly to pay our tab and say a more proper goodbye, which I could only really do with my sister.
In the end, I only had half a glass of Prosecco. And my best friend allowed me to lean more heavily on her bad news as our primary reason for leaving.
I don’t regret any of it because I needed to go for a couple of different reasons. There were answers I needed on some personal things that I could only figure out in person, but more than that… exposure therapy can work. Every time I force myself to leave the apartment and break through my comfort zone, I chip away at the hold the Agoraphobia has on me. The longer I coddle myself in this cocoon, the longer I stay handicapped by it. By doing this on terms I could live with, I am being proactive in my fight to healing. I am very glad I went to Wine Night and I am okay with leaving the party when I had to, though I do feel badly for the way I handled it. I do try not to wonder what they all must think of me.
xoxo ~ Melissa