I saw my psychiatrist last week and I’ve been ruminating on something.
The assistant I’m supposed to be getting at work. I thought I had all these anxieties about the new person – but I’ve totally turned them on myself and have become my own worst enemy. When I mentioned the situation to the doctor, he gently told me that I need to be prepared for the person to do things differently to me.
“Great! If someone can walk in and do things better and quicker than me, I’m all for it!” I exclaimed.
“Well… They might not necessarily do things better or quicker. Just differently.”
I sat there, feeling totally stumped. OK, I calmly started talking aloud about that being fine, and I could let go of it… Then I thought about the kitchen at home and realised that it’s not going to be that easy. Flying solo at work has given me control – just like in the kitchen. Everything has its spot, I wash the dishes in a certain order (glasses first, cutlery last and crockery in between) and I hang around impatiently looking over my husband’s shoulder if he offers to cook. Instead of straight out telling him how to do it, I interrupt and add things to the pot while he stirs and tells me to wait because he’s not ready to put that in yet. I know I can be irritating when I do this, but I don’t care.
Wait. Now I care.
I suddenly care because this new person isn’t someone who loves me just the way I am. This person could make my life difficult; but I’d probably be making theirs difficult first.
Shit. This is going to be horrible. I don’t think I’m ready.
Then I start rambling about how terrified I am of making conversation with strangers. On a short term basis, sure, I can totally ace that because it’s shallow. But on a daily basis? No. On a daily basis, I feel forced to over-share because I have nowhere else to go with the conversation. I’m not familiar with much of pop culture. TV shows, movies, music… I basically live under a rock.
The doc half laughed at how I’m so terrified of awkward silence that I feel the need to fill that gap with inappropriate information about myself. I know he was doing this to make me realise how silly I was being, and it worked. He talked me through “prodding” the other person into doing all the work. Asking open questions for them to talk about themselves and things they’re interested in… So I can sit back and relax. And I can offer fairly closed answers if I want to. Ok, that relieved me a little.
But he asked “are you the kind of person that jumps in and speaks when there’s a natural lull in a conversation?”.
Yes. Yes I am. I hate talking, but I hate awkward silences even more. So I panic and I try to fill the empty space with something random.
A few days ago I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a few years, and she shot questions at me one after the other, barely waiting for a reply from me. And I realised that I’ve done this to people many times because my fear of not having enough conversation has gone into overdrive and I’ve just stood there mouthing off constantly. OHMYGOD. I’m an irritating, interrupting fucker who doesn’t leave space for someone to get a word in or change the topic.
I’ve been sitting on this for a few days now. Am I over reacting? If that’s who I am, why hasn’t anyone pointed it out before? I don’t do it all the time… But I definitely do it. I’d never been on the receiving end of it before; it was really overwhelming. I couldn’t wait to get away from it.
Needless to say, I’ve been very quiet these past few days. I’ve been internalising a lot. I really hope this doesn’t develop into too much self loathing. I don’t really want to open my mouth around other people now, which is frustrating because I’m already fairly introverted and I don’t “drive” conversations most of the time.
I know that I need to work on not always speaking during a silence because it’s not necessarily awkward for the other person – it might just be awkward for me. But I also have to work on coping with/working through those moments. Because they are ALWAYS awkward for me, unless they’re with my husband.
I feel like a social retard.