Hi, I'm hoping there is someone on this forum who can give some insight to my problem. I'll start with some background information. I'm a 23 year old woman living in the midwest part of the US. I grew up with a very critical mom and a neglectful, alcoholic dad. I developed self esteem issues and social anxiety at a very early age, and it got worse when I went to school and became a target for bullies. Over the last year or so I've made a lot of progress and I try not to be so hard on myself, but I still need to work on it.
So here's my problem: I am terrified of getting back in touch with old friends, or reaching out to make new friends. I used to have a group of friends, the main three being M, H, and L. We used to hang out a lot, but I never felt comfortable being myself around them. I bent over backwards to avoid conflict and as a result I felt constant resentment and helplessness. Around the time I got together with my boyfriend (a year and a half ago), I started making excuses to get out of hanging out with my friends. I couldn't handle the pressure, so I just stopped coming around. This was bad timing because all three of them were planning to move across the country within the next few months. I barely saw them before they moved, and while this relieved my anxiety, I felt guilty for abandoning them.
I got in touch with them once, a few months ago, and then I haven't tried again because of the severe anxiety that I feel when I think about contacting them. I still feel like I can't be honest about my feelings, thoughts, opinions, etc. because I worry that they won't like me anymore. But I know that if I'm not honest, I'll feel resentful. So I don't even know if it's worth getting in touch with them again.
I had another friend, J. We were best friends in high school and she was one of the few people who accepted me for who I am, flaws and all. We lost touch after high school, but I ran into her at a concert a few months ago. We were sending messages back and forth on Facebook for a while, but then I went through a depression and did not have the energy to keep in touch, and I didn't know what to say anyway. I really want to have a real friendship with her, like we used to. But for some reason I am terrified to open up to her, even though I used to tell her everything when we were younger. I'm worried that she'll no longer be comfortable if I'm honest and open, since it's been so long.
I want to send a message to J to apologize for losing touch over the last few months. I want to be honest about my anxiety about being friends again, but I'm afraid that I'll scare her off. I don't want to lose her as a friend again, and I don't know what to do. I don't have any friends anymore and the idea of socializing is overwhelming. The only people I interact with now are my boyfriend, his friends, and my family. I am so lonely and I want to get my life back on track. I know that J and I could be friends again, I am just having a really hard time being honest and open, and reaching out to her.
Any advice would be appreciated, thanks in advance.
First of all, I had a friend who suffered from Social Anxiety Phobia for many years, she always thought people were looking at her and when anybody laughed around her she always assumed they were laughing at her.
She underwent cognitive behavioural therapy with a psychotherapist, that probably the best choice as there isn't really anything anyone can say on here that would be a magic fix, everyone in life seeks simple soloutions to complex answers but unfortunately, they don't always exist.
So if I were you I would visit a proffesional.
Thank you Toby, I agree that professional help is best. I've already contacted a therapist but she could not schedule an appointment for me immediately, so I'm on a waiting list. I know there is not a magic fix or else I would have "cured" myself by now. I guess what I was really looking for when I posted this question, was some advice on how to reach out again, and whether or not it's a good idea to be honest with my friend J about the anxiety that I feel when we correspond. Or maybe I should keep the conversation superficial for a while and ease my way into a real friendship again? I am afraid of over-sharing and scaring her off.
I do intend to work on this with a therapist once I am able to get an appointment. Your post has reminded me that it's been several weeks since I last heard from the therapist that I contacted, and I am going to call her within the next few days to remind her about my request for an appointment. Thanks again for your reply.
Hello NC. I like Toby's response to you too.