It’s a gorgeous morning here in Columbus! We usually don’t have bright mornings; the clouds take their time moving out of the way of the sun. Lately I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks – that usually preceeds the bit of social anxiety that I still face no matter how far into recovery I get. This morning’s sunny mildness reminded me of one in my childhood when I woke up after everyone else and just lay there quietly alone in the room I shared with my sister. I wanted to hang on to that feeling of safety and happiness forever and not face my crazy, chaotic childhood. There weren’t many safe places in our house, and at 9AM on a summer morning, my bedroom was one.
A lot of my flashbacks set into motion a desire to be back where I felt a moment of peace, a moment when I didn’t have to face other humans or to be in situations where I could have my own way (a recurring theme in my life as anyone who knows me well will tell you), coming and going as I please. Right now I am dealing with a job where I am literally locked into a building for 8.5 hours in the middle of nowhere. It’s stressful, being cooped up and made to sit still, which I guess is another reason for the flashbacks. The theme seems to be, “How the hell did I end up here?!”
When I feel that panic rising, I head back to those safe places in my memory. I talk to the people around me about something that has to do with them and not this panic rising in my chest. I quietly do some slow breathing to help calm my heart rate. This seems to help. This reaching out takes me out of myself and into the realm of others’ realities, away from my challenge.
How do you handle your social anxiety?