Friday, 3 January 2014

Life: 2014 and a change I didn't think of 4 days ago.

In the general scheme of things, I'm a laid back guy, I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and I don't generally say boo to a goose. Occasionally though, something will wind me up. Maybe it'll be repeated bad service from a company that can't seem to manage the simple things like turning up on time. It will take a good while for my anger to rise, but when it does, I have the ability to write letters containing such venom it's scary. These letters are polite and I don't resort to swearing but the target is in no doubt about what I think and how angry they have made me.

It's been suggested that this anger comes from the way I feel about my Dad and the scars that my upbringing have given me. It's also been said that I'll never be able to move on with my life and have a successful relationship until I've put it that pain behind me. For 18 years, I tried to bury that pain. That didn't make me happy. For the previous 2 years, it has been coming out in other ways and adversely affecting those around me.

In the spirit of 2014 and the changes I hope to make this year, it's time to take a new approach. I have all but ignored my family for about 15 years, but I've still been tied to them and it's time to break those ties. I spent most of yesterday writing a letter to my father explaining how much pain he has caused me and that I want nothing to do with my family again. I doubt he'll see it from my perspective, but that's not really my problem.

I have decided to wash my hands of them and start afresh without all the pain they've caused. I don't want any form of contact: no Christmas cards, no phone calls, nothing.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of this decision:
- Hopefully I can put the pain behind me and move on without the negativity I feel for them holding me back
- No more cards or letters that just make me angry

- I'll probably get written out of any inheritance (if there is any)

This is probably something I should have done years ago. After taking this decision and writing the letter I guess I should feel sad or go into mourning for a family I no longer have, but I don't.  I don't feel anything about them at all except anger. I have few happy memories of my upbringing and the way I was treated would probably be classes as abuse nowadays (without wanting to take anything away from those that suffer and have suffered terribly at the hands of their family).

Unfortunately, I was hoping I'd now feel free or as if I'd been released from something. I'm not sure I feel that either. Maybe that will come with time as I make other positive changes.

Today is the first day without a biological family and it's going to be a good one.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Life: Social Phobia (not a moan, but a description for anyone interested)

I recently had a response from one of my blogs in which the reader said they didn't know too much about Social Phobia. So I thought it was about time I tried to explain how it holds me back. This isn't one of my 'woe is me' posts (at least I hope it doesn't come across like that). I'm in an OK mood and don't want to be miserable.

Like most things psychological, there are varying degrees of Social Phobia and it affects each suffer is different ways. It's difficult to describe any illness like this to a non-sufferer as, with all the best intentions, it's difficult for them to get their head round it.

The best description I can give is through an analogy that hopefully everyone can relate to:

It's a cold, wet, raining night, perhaps just a couple of degrees off freezing and you're waiting at a bus stop. After a while you start to shiver. Then your teeth start chattering. The wind is blowing straight through your coat and the rain is soaking you, despite the meagre protection of the bus shelter. The bus still hasn't arrived and the cold really starts to get to you. You really start to shiver. They seem to start deep inside your chest and then it feels like the shake is spreading out, rippling through your body from the inside out, causing you to visibly shake. Sort of like a personal earthquake with it's epicentre in your core. You can even feel your shakes rocking the bus shelter as they're so extreme. The chattering becomes so severe, it starts to sound like you've got a stammer.

If I'm put in a social situation or meet someone new, my body seems to go from normal, to that extreme mode of visibly shaking and stammering in seconds. If I have time to prepare for meeting someone new, then I can put the situation in the 'work box' in my head. By removing any social aspects from the encounter in my head, I can keep the symptoms at bay. 

If the encounter comes as a surprise, or it's truly a social thing, or if I'm talking to someone I'm attracted to, then I'm screwed, even at work! I've had complete meltdowns at work if something has caught me without any prep time. The worst was a meeting with the bosses boss and an auditor that I knew nothing about till I was called in to describe my job. I had to move away from the table as I was making it shake so hard the auditor, on the other side of the desk, couldn't write any notes! And the the auditor in that case was a 50 yr old bloke to whom I had no attraction at all. Put me in front of a beautiful woman and I'm a quivering wreck in seconds.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. A course of therapy taught me that the only way to beat it is to be social. 

Hopefully in 2014 I'll manage to do that. I'm certainly feeling like I can enact change. Better late than never I guess.