Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Neglect My Friends

This is my best friend
I don't neglect her. I should though.
With few exceptions, I am a very neglectful friend when it comes to my presence. Sure, I send congratulations when due. I send out Christmas cards. I frequently comment on social media posts. I'm truly interested in what my pals are up to. I just don't hang out with them in person very often. Like, maybe once a year. I know. It's neglectful, but I have my reasons.

I'm painfully aware of the kind of person I used to be. I have the same personality as that person, but much less adventurous spirit. I used to spend all of my money on trips, parties, concerts and random cool crap I liked. I was down to hang out with my buddies any time we could all get together. They're fun and funny people, so why not? When they would say, "Hey, let's go do this thing." I would say yes, rarely with any hesitation. It always landed in me in the presence of warm, sarcastic, loud, funny people. Of course, I want to go.

Now, I can't say yes. Now, I'm rarely comfortable in groups. Now, if I haven't seen someone in a while, I am instantly anxious at the thought of seeing them. Not because they make me nervous, but because it's different. When my routine changes too much, I sometimes get physically ill. What's worse, I feel horribly guilty when I flake. Part of me feels like people can't possibly want to hang out with the nervous nutcase. Another part of me realizes that I'm actually disappointing people when I'm not around. Either way, you can't really win. You're just anxious.

Here's the thing, though. Anxiety is my companion whether I avoid things or not. I'm anxious even when I have routine, though it's not as pronounced, and the possibility of freaking out in front of people who barely see you anymore is eliminated when I stay home. The fact that I've never actually "freaked out" is beside the point. No one even notices I have anxiety, but I'm afraid they will, and then I'll have to talk about it. I'll have to tell them, and they'll assume I'm crazy, faking, dramatic, etc. Mental illness is so often misunderstood by the world, and the last people I want to misunderstand me are people I love. So, I neglect them instead.

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