Last night was Superbowl Sunday- something I care about not one bit.. However, my neighbors had a Superbowl party and they invited us to it.
When I accepted the invitation a few weeks ago I was in a bit of denial, thinking my husband and the kids would go and I’d just stay home. (wishful thinking perhaps?) Yesterday morning I ran into my neighbor at the gym and she let me know what time the party was and said she couldn’t wait to see us.
That’s when I realized we all would be going, me included. Gulp.
Parties are not my thing. I do not like going to them, I don’t care to mingle and do small talk. Not because I’m stuck up and don’t care about people. But because my stupid social anxiety has me in such knots before gatherings like this, the suffering I have to endure beforehand and during the event is just tremendous.
But I also know I had to go. And not entirely because the hostess was expecting me. It was more for my own sake, and the sake of my personal anxiety recovery.
I vented a little about this on Facebook yesterday. Maybe I was looking for some permission not to attend the party. I got the permission. Someone said this to me:
There are plenty of natural, everyday activities that cause us to work on our anxiety… forcing ourselves into an already uncomfortable position when it isn’t honestly necessary is just being mean to ourselves. As much as we work to better, we also have to learn it’s okay to decline ‘growth opportunities’.
Damn right I thought! Why should I have to go? But then I thought better of it… I knew if I didn’t go, I would feel awful about it later and be filled with regret and possibly self-loathing. That is not an option for me. So, instead of backing out, I replied:
Well it’s healthy for my kids to go and also for me and my husband to occasionally step out as a couple. I have the social anxiety, not them, and I won’t let anxiety dictate what I do. I’m only going to go for a little while, not all night. It’s in one hour…. Breathe….I can do it….
At first I wanted to reach for an extra Xanax, but I did not.
And so I did prepare myself. I re-read this post about Surviving Holiday Parties with Social Anxiety and it helped. About 45 minutes before we were set to leave for the party, I did positive affirmations for anxiety and I did do diaphragmatic breathing.
I did my affirmations and thought about being at the Superbowl party as calmly as I could. As I got into “the Zone” I told Myself:
Just go there and observe people. You don’t have to be engaged socially 100% of the time. Just be there. It’s not a big deal. No one is focused on you. It’s only for an hour. You can do anything for one hour.
The strange inner workings of a Superbowl party
I did feel awkward/anxious when we walked in. But I guess that’s pretty normal…
It really wasn’t the big deal that I had made it out in my mind. Big surprise right? There were people around the food area, people around the upstairs TV, people gathered around the downstairs TV, kids playing in the bedrooms.
It was early so it wasn’t loud or rowdy yet. It was pretty low key, just the way I like it. I talked to a few people, ate some dinner from the buffet, had a soda, talked to more people, had a beer, walked around, petted the dog, talked to one of the kids home from college, went to the bathroom, found my husband, watched TV…
I tried to notice how I was feeling and mark that I wasn’t anxious or panicking. I noticed that it was ok to NOT be talking to someone every single minute. I observed a lot of the other people around me, most of whom were also not having animated discussions or heated debates. It was a lot of introductions small talk about the food, the game, the little betting pool they had going on, and not much else really. It was pretty light-hearted and easy.
There was one “mean girl” from the neighborhood there. She ignored me like always and I just stayed clear of her.
I got anxious when we wanted to leave, because the timing seemed off to me. My husband wanted to watch the Superbowl at home like he always does, and I was fine with that. But it certainly probably seemed we were beating a hasty retreat just as the party was getting started. After all it was a Superbowl party and we were leaving to go home to watch the Superbowl.
So we kind of snuck out without really saying good bye.
I felt bad about that. I should have just said goodbye to my neighbor, but she was sitting next to the mean girl at the time. In the moment, I just decided not to.
Oh well. The sun has risen, the new day has dawned, it is sunny and beautiful and I am really glad I went to the Superbowl party with my family.
And I didn’t die…. Heck, I didn’t even panic. I was proud of myself.
I wish you peace,