Social Anxiety and Alcohol

Social Anxiety causes me to feel awkward around people, even those I’ve known for a dozen years and love dearly. Alcohol causes the filter of anxiety to release and everything I’ve been unable to speak of previously comes out in a torrent, for better or for worse.

It’s freeing and I enjoy the sensation. Lately, though, I’ve started to feel guilty about it. I don’t think I give others the airtime they deserve.

I am so relieved to finally have words and a voice when otherwise I feel so unable to speak that it takes hold of me. Whereas usually I might sit quietly and wish I could think of something to say, after a drink or two I can’t shut myself up.

The words come into my brain and they fly out of my mouth. There have been many times in my life when I’ve wished I could be as honest and open sober as I am after a glass of wine. I’ve yet to manage it. My sober self barely speaks the majority of the time. I fear my relaxed self is the opposite, and hogs center stage.

pexels-photo-696218.jpegThis is on my mind today because it happened again last night. Some friends have finally moved into their new home and they had a few people over for a baby shower/housewarming yesterday afternoon. The house is absolutely gorgeous and I am so delighted for them.

Afterwards, a few of us went to dinner.

I’d had a bit of wine at the house and I talked far too much at dinner. I had a lovely time, but today I’m beating myself up for not sitting back and letting others converse.

I fear I made the dinner into The Me Show and I’m feeling shame as a result.

I’m making an effort today to sit with that shame rather than suppressing it.

My instinct is to cover it up, make an excuse, tell myself it’s okay, try to forget about it. History has shown that tactic only results in struggle and unhappiness.

Rather than struggling against these negative feelings, I’m sitting with them, embracing them, seeing what can be learned from them. I won’t let them overwhelm me, but I will allow them to occur.

The First Thoughts tell me I’m unlikable and socially inept. Second Thoughts race to take the steering wheel and move my mind away from those notions. These are my friends, my Second Thoughts tell me. These are people who have seen me get a bit tipsy hundreds of times. They have proven over the course of the years we’ve all known each other that they know this side of me and aren’t bothered by it.

Everything’s fine, Second Thoughts say. My friends love me even though I am obnoxiously self-involved when I’m tipsy. Don’t worry about it. Go on with my day and don’t bother thinking about it any further.

First Thoughts say the person I was last night isn’t someone I admire. She wasn’t someone who was graceful and kind and loving towards people she cares about. She didn’t give people equal time to speak. She didn’t hear other people’s stories. She told everyone all about her, but she didn’t find out what’s going on in their lives.

Someone I admire does an equal amount of listening and talking. She is both interesting and interested. I was not that person last night.

I will try to not beat myself up for this, and I’m sure nobody is upset at me. Odds are good I behave this way more frequently than I’ve allowed myself to see before now.

Perhaps I can look at it without judgment but simply allow that I’d like to do better.


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