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#292447 - 06/20/09 11:57 PM On socializing
FormerTexan Offline
Site Administrator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 11020
Loc: Denver, CO
A week or so ago, I was invited for tonight to the house of a long-time musician friend way on the south side of town. Not a convenient drive at all, but I don't get over to he and his family very often, so it was time for a social call.

He put together an 80s-themed party, which was rather creative. I looked forward to hearing old familiar tunes from such a meaningful decade in my life, and other 80s cultural aspects.

What I anticipated was the reality at this party: the only people I would know are my friend and his wife. The rest were total strangers, people I would likely never see again, or if I did, remembering their names was going to be a stretch. So at this social gathering, I just did my best to get to know a few of the other attendees, and provide my portion of history with my friend over the years. They in turn would share how they knew him, or share about their careers, etc.

It was never totally awkward for me, but it wasn't exactly the bastion of comfortable relational connection either. I kind of set the time in my head when I would depart and take myself out of picture for the evening, almost planning my escape. Try to make a few connections, be pleasant, enjoy some food, and then make a hasty exit as I weaved through what felt like wall-to-wall strangers. I could swear I was the only unmarried in attendance.

Well, growth sure has happened. 10-12 years ago this would have been a very awkward time for me, as I would feebly attempt to communicate with these strangers. It would have felt more like a facing a social firing squad than mingling at a party. 'Ok, I showed up, so I can check off the box that says I tried. Now I can leave and head back to the safety of my personal confines, and quickly.'

Abuse touches every part of our lives, even our ability to relate to the strangers in the world. What should have developed into normal healthy relating instead became a skewed perception - a twisted, contorted mess of scrap metal.

Someone you know invites you to a themed party across town, where only the friend and his wife are familiar to you. Everyone else is a stranger. What are your thoughts on socializing in this setting?

Andy

_________________________
List of things ain't nobody got time for:

1. That


If I could meet myself as a boy...

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#292452 - 06/21/09 12:50 AM Re: On socializing [Re: FormerTexan]
Clockwise Offline


Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 302
Loc: Pennsylvania
I think you handled th situation well. If it were me being invited to a social gathering with a bunch of strangers I doubt I would even agree to go. So actually agreeing to go is a win in my eyes. As for the actual socializing part I think that what you did was what most people do anyway. They go in with the best intentions, introduce themselves to some people, have some chit chat about life and work and such and at some point find their way home. It's never easy to meet new people especially with the weight we carry in out backs. I'm glad to hear that you are socializing though. It gives me some hope that I can do the same.

_________________________
Yet another 24 hours.

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#292662 - 06/22/09 08:06 PM Re: On socializing [Re: Clockwise]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Andy,

I can relate. Time was when I would have felt exactly as you described. Go because I felt I had to; try to relate as best I could all the while feeling like a eunuch at a brothel; leave at the earliest opportunity.

As you say, times have changed. Though I surely don't want to attend these things I find that I can now go, mingle, communicate with relative ease, and sometimes even stay longer than I had planned.

I've found most people aren't shy to talk about themselves if I show an interest so a few well placed questions can prime the pump leaving me to nod my head and throw in another one or two well placed questions and we're off to the races again. Sometimes I even get a chance to talk about myself!

The thing I hate the most at this kind of gathering is there's always some woman much older than myself there who seems to almost throw herself in my path in a way that just makes me uncomfortable. Not interested in whatever you have in mind, thanks, no matter what it is.

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#292676 - 06/22/09 09:32 PM Re: On socializing [Re: FormerTexan]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
about a year ago, i 'forced' myself to become more social by joining some organizations where i would have no choice but to participate.

what was the most important about this effort, is that it REVERSED my tendency to do the opposite: to withdraw.

even if you only exercise the intention, there is no small triumph, because you have acted against the normal flow of things in your head, and doing so bolsters your confidence to keep facing those fears head on, and to make this approach again and again when future opportunities present themselves.

borrow some wrist deflectors from wonder woman and keep on engaging in this practice, and soon enough, the social fear factor will wane. pretty soon a decision to go or not go will be based more on an expediency issue rather than as a response to some voice in your head whispering 'sissy, wimp, coward', daring you to fail.

everytime you go against the tide, you weaken it, even if you only go with a small amount of resolve. each subsequent time, you will strengthen. pretty soon, you will be asking, do i really want or need to go, or am i just going to quiet those voices that are daring me to go just to prove the amplitude of my own fortitude, taunting me as if to say, 'your recovery is pretty meaningless after all'; 'you've made no significant progress after all this time'.

ps, sorry for the suggestion to borrow wrist deflectors from wonder woman.....that was the only super hero i could think of who would actually be useful as an example of a SH with wrist deflectors.......i guess you could try turning big and green and bursting out of your clothes, but that would seem out of character for you......not that wonder woman is not as well......never mind..... crazy did you smile yet?

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#292846 - 06/24/09 01:08 PM Re: On socializing [Re: Sans Logos]
Trucker51 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
I few years ago I got invited to a party at my aunt and uncle's house the last year of my dad's life and the only other people there were my aunt and uncles friend's. And within a couple of hours my uncle was accusing me of dominating the conversation. Oh well, what do you want??? An exit strategy??? I used to be a lot like that one SNL skit about "The thing that wouldn't leave". I would help drink-up all of the alcohol at the party and then volunteer to go get more. Often my hosts were passed-out on the couch before I got out of there.

The again, maybe 1985 I tried to go to some ski club mixer where I didn't know anyone, before I began my first attempt at therapy, and wasn't as socially-confident as I am now, and the term "wall-flower" has forever stuck in my mind. In time I did get to meet a few single or divorced guys at the bar, but it was an uncomfortable experience getting to that point. It didn't seem like anyone but a couple of drunks had any interest in talking to me for any length of time. It seemed like most everyone there knew each other and that nobody wanted to know me. So I do know how being in an unfamiliar social setting can feel when we lack social confidence too.

These days my wife and I sometimes go to social events and we will talk to the other couples before the guys and gals often break into same-gender social groups. So all that you need is some gal to go with and these type of social mixers will be a lot friendlier. Here in Denver they rent professional escorts by the hour but what would you say when someone asked the question about where you met? Just keep on taking chances Andy and keep building on your successes, and someday soon you will be confident enough to talk to everyone at the party, maybe take some single gal home too!!!

Parties can be a lot of fun with the right kind of people,

Mark

_________________________
"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark



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#292862 - 06/24/09 03:28 PM Re: On socializing [Re: FormerTexan]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6805
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: FormerTexan

(following is a brief extract of what you said)

Well, growth sure has happened. 10-12 years ago this would have been a very awkward time for me, as I would feebly attempt to communicate with these strangers. It would have felt more like a facing a social firing squad than mingling at a party. 'Ok, I showed up, so I can check off the box that says I tried. Now I can leave and head back to the safety of my personal confines, and quickly.'

Abuse touches every part of our lives, even our ability to relate to the strangers in the world. What should have developed into normal healthy relating instead became a skewed perception - a twisted, contorted mess of scrap metal.

What are your thoughts on socializing in this setting?



Andy

First off: When we had dinner together a few weeks ago, you came across as being inwardly strong, relaxed, comfortable with yourself and capable in conversation. You were'nt overly interested in yourself and you expressed a healthy interest in me.

Social life for me has always been difficult. When I was teaching and they had an event such as a faculty Christmas party, it was painful for me. I could sometimes latch onto one person with whom I could hold a conversation. I would get so very tense that I was exhausted afterward. I must not have been fun to be with.

After going through a lot of recovery steps including a lot of professional counseling, I am now able to be socially relaxed and enter into natural conversations with people. It is so, so cool to have made this progress.

There are some things I have to watch out for. My counselor (T) has helped me with this. Because my abusers and even my parents tended to be narcissistic, I tend to be drawn to those kinds of people. But that is a no no for me. I have to politely greet and then ignore those who are narcissistic (self absorbed, especially with appearances). I can now spot people with whom I have rapport and move toward them for conversation.

Allen

pufferfish whistle


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#293475 - 06/29/09 02:17 AM Re: On socializing [Re: Trucker51]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1892
Loc: durham, north england

It didn't seem like anyone but a couple of drunks had any interest in talking to me for any length of time. It seemed like most everyone there knew each other and that nobody wanted to know me. So I do know how being in an unfamiliar social setting can feel when we lack social confidence too.


This sounds familiar. I've been there absolutely, at many parties in colidge where people just cleaque up together and I end up stuck in a corner with a drink.

Inability to make eye contact also contributes to this situation, especially if the music is at such a loud volume serious conversation is almost impossible.

One of the few advantages in colidge was that I could always head off to my room whenever I wished.

I even remember several times at colidge bbq's and such I'd make a symple rule. I dam well want my burger and hotdog, and some pims to wash it down. i'll stay until I've finished, and if I'm not chatting with someone by then, ---- I'm off!

The funny thing is, give me a group of 1-4 people, ---- even strangers, and my people handling skills take over automatically. Generally the larger the group, the less fun I have, ---- and I've had some of my mot lonely, deressed and tragic moments sitting in crowds, ---- though "alone in a crowd" seems to be a running theme in my life.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago I went out to a friend's birthday parthy which involved Sushi and a bar stopp. There were two chaps I know, and 4 I didn't, but I ended up having a good time.

The really! odd thing which I genuinely can't explain, is my gilbert and sullivan performing group. I always feel like a bit of an outsider, ---- sinse I'm not even a member of the university it takes place in, and the line up of people changes every year as new people come in and older people leave.

I don't know though, whetherh it's the general group dynamics, the fact that the group ranges ages from 18 to 43, or something else, but I'm always humbled and amazed by how nice a bunch they are at parties and such.

I'd usually hate to go to a party with a group of 12, ---- pluss their friends, and yet, several people inevitably converse with me, I'm in fact made incredibly welcome.

I'm not sure why or what this is, ---- it's certainly not a characteristic of ameter performers who can be some of the worst, most insular and snobbish people you could imagine, but everytime I meet with them I'm actually shocked.

The problem I find is trying to remember that and not let my own worthlessness convince me not to socialize with them, ---- which I'm afraid it has done on several occasions.

I don't know whether this is a Vi thing or not, ---- but another important thing for me is always having a get out. A taxi I can ring, a walk I can make etc.

If I'm depending upon someone else for a lift, I always feel more tense and bothered, ---- and, if it's one of those formerly mentioned huge group occasions with cleaques and me being alone, incredibly upset.

thanks for this topic, it's a really helpful thing to explore.


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#293510 - 06/29/09 08:01 AM Re: On socializing [Re: dark empathy]
Trucker51 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
And I always was one to drive myself because I really hated to be dependent on someone else to drive me home. Perhaps this is a form of control, as it made me feel that I lacked control when I didn't drive myself. And like you I preferred smaller social groups of people that I knew. I liked meeting new people that my friends knew, before my recovery I had fairly poor social skills myself.

These days I still insist on driving myself as much as is possible, though I will let my wife or a couple of my closest friends drive from time to time. I just prefer to have that level of control over my circumstances. Socially I am much more able to enjoy a large group and initiate conversation than I was before my success in recovery.

It sounds like your experience is a lot like mine was, except that I would have been way to shy to ever get up onto a stage and perform.

Mark

_________________________
"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark



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