This post was almost titled “maintaining friendships and anxiety”, but I felt that it wouldn’t really convey the message I am so eager to express today.
I’m not a bitch. At least I don’t think so (??). Based on feedback from the people surround me I have been told I am a kind and respectable, albeit mostly passive person. I show compassion and care for others; I try to be a “good” person.
But sometimes, despite my best efforts, I think I come off as one. A bitch, that is.
Because I can also be unreadable and emotionally distant. I put up a wall so ice cold that it could freeze hell over. I won’t respond to text messages and phone calls for days. If I see you in public, I might even avoid you. I’m the person you know who is just always “too busy”, the person who waffles on plans and eventually bails.
It’s not me – it’s my anxiety. Let me explain.
I am unreadable and emotionally distant for your benefit, not mine. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Because sometimes I feel if I expressed the thoughts I had… If you really knew what I was thinking… You might run. Being aloof is my sneaky way of beating you to it. I’ll push you away first – hah! Thinking I’ve won, and then realizing I’m lonely.
I put up the ice wall because like many people with anxiety, I am curling myself up into an emotional ball and protecting myself. Vulnerability is weakness. And hard to express. And baby we’re just not there yet.
If I haven’t responded to your calls or messages for days, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s probably because I’m not doing well. But I’m very good at hiding it. Especially if we aren’t talking. Cause then how can you even know?
And I might avoid you – even if I love you. Yes I might love the shit out of you, but if I see you walking into Starbucks and I’m in the anxiety zone in one of their big comfy chairs, you better believe I’m the person doing the old “lift the newspaper to cover the face” trick. For me, it’s just a bad day. I don’t love you any less, or think of you any differently. And I am acutely aware how weird it is to duck and roll when you see a friend (anxiety warriors are incredible ninjas).
I feel like I’m getting better with this, and after 27.5 years on this planet I am finally opening up to people.
I mean, I don’t want to hurt anybody. And I don’t want to live in a shell.
So as a friend, how about I meet you halfway? I’ll pick up the phone and call you. I’ll make plans and keep them. I’ll go out of my way to say hi to you in public, even on an off day.
But once in a while, every once in a while – forgive me for bailing last minute. Let it slide if I don’t return your text for a couple days. And most importantly, try to remember that it’s me, not you. You’re great.
And when I’ve done something really odd/rude/questionable just try and remember this:
I’m not a bitch, I just have anxiety.