Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lost and Not Alone

I hate being anxious.

I hate the feeling of never knowing what to say and worrying constantly about figuring it out.  I avoid calling anyone because I never know what I’m going to say on the phone or how I will know the conversation has run its course or how to extricate myself from the call when it does.  I don’t call people, even people I’ve known for years, to go to lunch or have coffee because even if I could navigate the phone call, I can’t imagine what I will say and can’t face the possible awkwardness of staring at each other with nothing to say. I rely heavily, very heavily, on my more extroverted friends to make plans and bring me along. I am incredibly lucky to have such friends and I treasure them dearly.

When it was just me, the worst consequence of this was that I stayed home alone more often that I would have liked.  When my daughter was younger, she became far more socially adept that I will ever be.  She made friends easily and seemed to always be the person in charge of making the plans.  My role was largely to chaperone and chauffeur them around, a role I was perfectly comfortable in.  But my son needs more from me. As I watch him struggle to figure out the social cues, his bewilderment and anxiety are a reflection of my own.  I watch him struggle to figure out why the others don’t want to keep talking about the same things and how to follow the natural course of the conversation, and my heart breaks for him.  His discomfort, for different reasons, is so close to my own.  I worry frequently that my inability to socialize appropriately has inhibited his social skills more than was necessary.  I’m terror stricken at the idea of calling another parent to arrange play dates and get togethers.  What will we do? What will we talk about?  What if they say no?  What if they say yes?  Paralyzed, I rely on organized activities like sports for opportunities for social interactions for him and try to convince myself that these will suffice.  So my fears prevent him from having more one on one interactions which makes it harder for him to learn social interactions, which isolates him even more.  I watch his friends arrange play dates and sleep overs and movie outings together and know I am failing him horribly.

I don't have an answer or an uplifting ending.  Sometimes, you just keep moving.


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