Anxiety and Pre-triggers, and Approval for Keeping Your Demons Home.

Current state: I'm getting ready to go do a thing I want to do, and I am anxious. I don't want to be required to spend all evening with a perfectly normal-seeming person at a large venue concert with thousands of other people. Gazillions.

Required is the problem - once I get to his house I'm committed, in it for the long haul. I'm balking, hard.

I always - always - build myself an escape route. Through 12 years of marriage, I always carried my own house keys in case I had to ditch my husband and go home by myself. I don't know how long I've been this way, possibly since the date-rape (which I blogged about because now I have decided to tell even more people all my business. Hi there.)

I'll be riding in a car with someone I don't know intimately but who has (at the very least) social pressure to make sure I am safe - we're coworkers. I really believe he is the kind of person who'd just make sure I'm safe. He already told me he's my Spirit Guide. I will have my own house keys, and I can Uber home if I really want to do that, but I really see no reason why I would. But I can.

Why is this freakoutable?  I am really annoying myself. So let's parse me, yeah?

Am I averse to getting him out of the Co-worker Box? He's already out of that box. We get along fine and talk about things not work-related. We have in common that sad thing of caring for someone who is very ill. Maybe that's a problem for me - I never did like support groups. I don't know how he feels about them. Am I afraid I'm going to be put into the Awkward Terminal Illness Commiseration Box? I offered that job to him some time ago if he needed to vent, and I meant it. I still do. If he wants to talk we will talk, or not if he doesn't; and if it makes me cry (or him) we will cry. 

If I'm apprehensive even though I'm cognitively okay with the concept - pre-triggering - I can give myself a pass, but I would like to stop now, please.

Am I having that thing I make fun of others for having: bailing at the last minute for seemingly no reason? Maybe...oh, but look at that.

Maybe when other people suddenly don't want to do a thing it's because they have pre-triggers, too.

We all know somebody who bails at the last minute. Sometimes I'm that friend. I may have reasons but may be unable to tell you what they are. I know from personal experience both sides of this conflict: if I shut up and go do the thing, I will probably be glad I did. I am rarely sorry I went, even if I didn't have fun. I've had to also convince the friend to come along who was apprehensive.

There are people who try to get the coolest ride to the party. That's not the same thing. Their internal conflict isn't blocking them; they've just found something they think is more interesting than you. My ex-husband used to double-book himself and decide which event was going to be the least amount of effort and make him look the most interesting.

You don't want to waste your time and energy inviting someone who doesn't like you but likes your stuff. You may want to leave the door open for someone who likes you but doesn't like your stuff. You see the difference?

My friend Roxanne saw a pattern in my behaviour and asked me outright:

Is it because you don't like us? 

Not the case, Roxanne. My history with her is a mash-up of liking the person but not the event, with a side internal conflict. Roxanne is a patient friend and I appreciate her. I appreciate her asking. Because I respect her, I will always answer the question, even if the answer is I don't know.

When your friend wants to bail at the last moment, assess: try to remember a time when that friend waffled but ended up having a good time. Remind the friend. If there is a reason this friend needs to attend this event, say so. But give that friend space to be vulnerable. Let I don't know be an adequate answer.

If the friend makes a pattern of telling you what awesome thing they did instead on the same day they ditched you, assess that, too. I have no comforting stories here.

I'm going to see the Dave Matthews Band with a friend who is going to make sure I am safe. I need sunscreen.

Further Reading:

The Risk of Vulnerability

This article should be titled the Power of Vulnerability. Throwing myself off cliffs has been the secret of my awesomeness (or loose-cannony-ness) for years. Robe Coppman says it better, though, and he is correct: you have to crack the door open and have faith in yourself. You'll deal with whatever comes in, or goes out.

Also, you can do it in calculated fashion and not actually throw yourself off a cliff. I will take that into consideration going forward.