6th April 2016 at 1:55 am #13055
Who have I become…….
An acquaintance of mine persuaded me to join a local (removed by moderator) group, all women, doing afternoon teas, lunches, quizzes, Bingo nights etc.
So I took a bit of persuasion – but in the end I said yes, in order to broaden my horizons, and help make a new life.
I thought I could do this, but it was worse than I ever expected, I couldn’t wait to get away.
I forced myself to go, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. I hated it.
There were only 8 of us at the meeting tonight, including me.
I knew all the ladies, but one, I’d never met her before. One I hardly knew, one I’d known for about 10yrs, one for 15yrs, 2 for 20+yrs and one who was a good friend from my school days – though we’ve not kept in touch. So basically I knew them all.
But in the 2 1/2hrs we were there I basically only uttered 2 or 3 sentences.
The problem is – the longer I go without speaking, the harder it then is to speak, and I feel very awkward and uncomfortable.
I’m so embarrassed at myself – I’m so ashamed of this person I have become – I have forgotten how to socialise – how to mix in a group situation.
I just can’t cope in social situations anymore. I’m so disappointed in myself – I let myself down, and I let my kids down. I should be strong, and a good example to them.
I never did have much confidence – but I’m definitely getting worse.
I feel like I want to give up, just stay home, and not go out again.
I was close to tears driving home, and I’ve been thinking of nothing else for the past 4hrs – I feel so upset, so weak. People must think me so weird, they must all notice I don’t talk – people will think I’m strange. All I did was sit there and smile, and nod – i just couldn’t join in the conversation.
I’m a middle-aged woman I have a job were I meet clients every day – and I can chat one-to-one – but just not in a group.
I don’t like this person I have become – who is she…….???
6th April 2016 at 2:27 am #13056SerenityParticipant
Be kind to yourself. One thing we don’t do enough of is show ourselves compassion.
You’ve been through a lot. I still get panicky when I am out sometimes, and can’t wait to get home to my cosy lounge or comfy bed. I was shy for many years, and thought the I had largely overcome it, but sometimes I feel like I’ve gone backwards.
I am not sure if I am right here, but maybe when you are in your own home you feel safer, but being out of home and at such close quarters with a group of people might have made you feel a bit panicky. Something may have triggered you when you were there, without you realising it- for example, if any of those women showed dominant personality traits. It’s much less scary dealing with people 1-1: an intense group, even about something as seemingly harmless as a fundraising group, can feel a bit threatening if you’re feeling vulnerable.
Congratulate yourself in making the brave step you have, and be compassionate and kind to yourself. It’s all about making small steps. Don’t feel that anyone’s timing you, or pressurising you to recover or change: you are doing fantastically in your job, carrying on working and dealing with people everyday. I couldn’t work for months, I was such a mess, so in that you are doing amazingly.
6th April 2016 at 2:53 am #13058
Hi Serenity – you are up still – didn’t expect to hear from anyone tonight – but just had to open up – I feel very vulnerable and exposed.
I wasn’t really ‘panicky’ – I just felt stupid and uncomfortable.
There were 2 or 3 there who were very confident, and outgoing, and they basically monopolized the conversation – the others chiped in now and then, and joined in, I said nothing.
I am shy – very shy – I just feel like I have nothing interesting to say, nothing anybody would want to hear – so I just keep my mouth shut – I feel so dull and boring.
I know some people are naturally more dominant – and others naturally quieter – but I just let the dominant ones speak – and I have nothing to say.
I’m so much more comfortable in a one-to-one situation, I can chat away no bother – having said that usually I’m the one who asks the questions, and listens – I don’t talk much about me – as my life is so dull, boring and uninteresting.
I wanted to do this – I thought I could do this, and now I’m not sure if I CAN go back. I feel like they will all be thinking how weird I am – they will all be talking about me.
Thanks for your kind words Serenity – you are always to positive and encouraging.
Must sleep now – night.
6th April 2016 at 4:27 am #13060SerenityParticipant
I see what you mean now, M.U.M.
I felt like this some years ago, when I had put all my interests on hold, and was existing merely to please His Lordship and being a mum.
With my work, I was different: I loved my job and was very animated by it, and could talk about that more with people ( not him- he actually told me to stop talking about work to him) but I had no confidence to talk about much else with anyone, and I wasn’t confident enough to speak up in groups, etc.
Even in my job previous to my present one, my manager told me that I should contribute more at meetings. She said I had some good ideas and should share them, but I didn’t have the confidence to.
I now realise that it was all linked to the fact that my husband had dismantled my confidence over the years. Also, he was so demanding and controlling that my world had become ‘him’ so I felt too much out of the loop to offer an opinion on them. He made sure he was my world- however hellish that was!
Things changed when I moved back to an area where I knew people. I had my eldest, and wanted him to attend a toddler group at our local church, but there wasn’t one. I must have had a tiny piece of confidence left- or maybe I was itching to expand, or felt concerned for my child’s social development-but I asked if I could start a toddler group up.
That led to getting to know a huge community of other parents, some of whom I knew as a child and hadn’t seen for some years, and I made new friends too.
Looking back, I remember still being excruciatingly shy, even though I was meant to be one of the people running it. I would pass public speaking tasks on to other people; I was happy to do all the work in the background.
Things changed when I suddenly hit what I think was my firm of a ‘midlife crisis’ when I suddenly realised I need to qualify for a job before a certain age. So I started a professional qualification. Even here, I was petrified, even whilst doing it. I felt like a was an imposter- that I wasn’t the person people thought I was. That I had nothing worthwhile to say, etc.
I think I increased in confidence quite a bit when I passed this qualification. I suddenly felt more worthwhile and able.
Now, I have far less of a problem ( most of the time) in speaking up.
But the whole process took some time.
I think that when we are with our demanding abusers, they steal our identities. They want us to focus on them, think like them and they exhaust us, so we have no time to develop ourselves. They swallow us up; we lose ourselves. This wouldn’t happen with a non-controlling partner. Controlling partners expect us to merely be their support act, and we have no chance or right to have opinions of our own. Bit by bit, we lose ourselves. We even forget what our opinions are!
(And if you are like me, you have domineering relatives too who have dismissed your thoughts and opinions over the years. As my counsellor has recently put it, family members and my husband made me feel ‘invisible’- that I was there for them to lean on, but wasn’t a person in my own right.)
This meeting may have gone wrong in your mind, and you may feel annoyed at yourself, but don’t be too hard in yourself: keep plugging away at it. It doesn’t matter what people think- you aren’t there to gain their approval, you are there for yourself and to be part of something bigger and worthwhile ( like me and the toddler group) and you have every right to be there and play your part, however small. You may end up only having a smaller role, but your contribution will be valuable. Maybe in a few months, you will have grown in confidence and will contribute something bigger, but if not, then that’s still ok. By working with others towards a group goal, you will start to feel connected, and will grow in confidence over time, so I think it’s great that you have chosen to be part of this. Baby steps- all these little things you do ( without him holding you back ) will help you gradually rediscover who you really are.
7th April 2016 at 3:31 am #13147
Hi Serenity – I think what’s most difficult is for half my life I was part of a couple, we never went anywhere or did I anything – but now I’m finding myself alone. I was a wife, I was a mother and that was all that was to my life.
I’m a middle-aged woman – I have to start living again, before it’s too late – but I’ve been so long ‘out in the cold’ with no social life whatsoever – and at my age its so hard to start all over again.
I was not a person who went anywhere of an evening, I’ve never been a member of any groups, clubs, or committees – and now I find at my time of life I’m having to do this things – and it feels so strange and uncomfortable.
I don’t know if I’m just ‘downtrodden’ and that has drained me of all confidence – or am I merely ‘out of practice’, from being away from any form of social activity.
I think you are so right when you say – “I now realise that it was all linked to the fact that my husband had dismantled my confidence over the years. Also, he was so demanding and controlling that my world had become ‘him’ so I felt too much out of the loop to offer an opinion on them. He made sure he was my world- however hellish that was!” – I too think he took away all my confidence, and he controlled every aspect of my life – and as you say he was my world – no matter how bad that world was – it was all I knew.
Well done you on setting up the toddler group – you must be a natural born leader – you had it in you – its just not in me to do things like that.
I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the forefront of any group – you have just remained my of my days at toddlers – I was always the one in the kitchen preparing snack, and washing up – this meant I could ‘hide’ and was not so noticeable that I was on my own a lot of the time.
I have just always felt like an ‘outsider’ all of my life – never ever felt ACCEPTED or INCLUDED in anything – I always felt like I was on the outskirts looking in.
You had the brains to go for qualifications – which you achieved – which then gave you confidence.
I have no brains – so I will always feel like a loser – an outcast.
Some people have education – and some people are ‘all talk’ – if you have either one of these (or both) you will get on and succeed in life – unfortunately I have neither…..
As you say I have lost my identity – I have forgotten how to have opinions and views…..I have lost my voice.
As you say it most likely didn’t help that I have a domineering mother, who is a bit forthright in comming with her opinions and views and TELLING ME what to think and do – so again I lost my voice there.
I think this time I was just a bit like ‘a rabbit in headlights’ and I hope that if I can make myself go again – that I will be a little bit more relaxed, and open up a bit.
Thanks for all your advice – it makes perfect sense.
6th April 2016 at 7:33 am #13065Falling SkysParticipant
Well done for going it’s a big achievement. In all groups you have your listeners and talkers so you were a valued part of the group. I hope you will be able to go again it will get easier.
As you know I went away for the weekend to a friends. I was well out of my comfort zone but I did it like you.
We both want a life so lets keep facing our demons together.
7th April 2016 at 5:47 am #13148
Thank you Falling Skys – for your kind words. 🙂
I was WAY out of my comfort zone – but I will give it one more go – and hope for better next time. It was all just a bit much for me to cope with that night.
Hi Confused123 – thank you too for your kind words. 🙂
You are probably right – maybe they were not thinking half the things I imagined – I just always presume people think the worst of me.
Hi White Rose -thank you too for your kind words. 🙂
I can start a conversation, and as I say I can chat one-to-one – but I just cannot cope with a group situation even me and two others – I just withdraw into myself – as I know I have nothing interesting to add to the conversation. I actually wasn’t worried about going – I was even actually looking forward to it – I just never imagined it would all go so wrong – and that I’d cope as badly as I did.
You know I’m sure it all stems from my school days – I was always too affraid to answer questions in class for fear of get it wrong and looking stupid, and they’d all laugh at me an make fun of me – and so I never opened my mouth in class – and that’s how I feel still now – in group situations – I feel like what I say will seem stupid – so I say nothing.
Hi Eve – thanks for your support too. 🙂
I will give it another try – and I do hope it will get easier in time.
Hi Godschild – thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂
As the minutes an hour’s ticked past and I hadn’t joined in I felt more and more awkward and self-conscious – and I couldn’t bring myself to open my mouth. People do know I’m quiet and shy, but a woman of my age SHOULD be able to join in and add to a conversation – I’m not a kid anymore – I should be able to cope with situations like that at my age.
As you say I feel the odd one out – I know I’m always the quiet one who never opens her mouth – and its so embarrassing at my age now.
I know in any group you always get the louder, outgoing ones and the quiet, introverted ones – but I just want to be a little braver – so this is not such an issue for me.
I need to move on with my life, and I need to stand on my own two feet!!
Thank you all once again for sharing your thoughts and feelings, and giving me advice and support.
It means such a lot.
🙂 x*x. 🙂
6th April 2016 at 9:01 am #13075Confused123Participant
Welldone for making effort to go,i would try and pusrue it further, its just us that think all are talking about us negatively, but half the time they are not, be gentle on yyourself, in these groups we all bring different strenghts
6th April 2016 at 9:37 am #13079White RoseParticipant
Well done MUM keep going and I’m sure it will get easier.
I used to be reasonably confident socially but constantly getting put downs from my ex and being the brunt of his jokes when we were out over the years has meant I always feel I’m on the look out for the same happening again and that’s why I tend to clam up socially. I can’t start conversations any more and if I do i freak out about how to respond yet I’m fine in work where I have to converse with people all day.
I’ve pulled out of a couple of things I started doing as I spent too long worrying about going and being over anxious when I’m there.
I’m hoping it will get better. It has a bit over last few months and I can chat away a bit more but still shy away from making any suggestions or decisions -probably as my subconscious expects him to pop up and tell me its stupid or it will never work!
I need to push my self more!
What you’re doing sounds nice I bet you’ll come into your own on the (removed by moderator) engaging with strangers as it sounds as if thats what your job is. That will make you feel good and boost your confidence.
6th April 2016 at 10:23 am #13081Eve1Participant
Well done for going. And I absolutely know how you feel. A few years ago I started to get involved in something similar, and I would go through agony before and after any meeting. It took a while but it did get better. It’s all new, so give yourself time. You have had some good advice here. Maybe go again and see if you feel any different afterwards. I just wanted to show some support.
6th April 2016 at 3:05 pm #13088godschildParticipant
M.U.M I have no confidence, if I talk to people after wards I keep examining what they thought of me , did what I say sound OK. Did I look alright, go over and over any conversation.
The abuse robs us of what we were. I may outwardly sometimes seem ok and confident but inside Im a wreck and I hid the abuse for so many decades, so learnt to put on a false front to people.
Do try to go back, there are always leaders in these things but the quieter ones have a lot to contribute as well.
I dont like groups of people, I always feel the odd one out the quiet one.
Sometimes even people who have a lot to say and appear confident are not really that way but come across like that.
Ive soemtimes looked at people and thought they seem ok no problems etc and then find out they may have lots of issues, so many people wear a mask. x
6th April 2016 at 4:51 pm #13097
Thank you all for your lovely, kind, supportive, encouraging messages – Im very touched. You are all such lovely people. 🙂
Ive been working all day – and not had time to reply – dashing out now to take my son to Rugby – but I will try and talk later – bit it will be much later.
7th April 2016 at 6:51 am #13149
Sorry my reply to you all got stuck in the middle here!!!
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