ODD vs. Compartmentalization, 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 do not 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.

But Y THO?  I am really annoying myself. So let's parse me, yeah?

He is genuinely nice - maybe this is unnerving me. I'm not sure I know what to do with that. He likes dogs, bonsai trees, live music, Washington Redskins, and contemplation. I've already met his mom. I am pretty sure he isn't the least bit a dick. Uncharted territory, which you know if you've met any of my friends. No, it's not him; it's me.

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. Sometimes I have reasons but sometimes I couldn't tell you what they are. I know from personal experience on both sides of this conflict that if I shut up and go do the thing, I will probably be glad I did. Maybe not, but I am rarely sorry I went, even if I didn't have fun. My ex-husband had to be lied to - told the thing was NONREFUNDABLE - so that his cheapness would override his stubbornness and he would go and ultimately be glad he did.

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

Don't take it personally, and definitely don't let other people ruin your good time. In any of these cases, it's them, not you.

You don't want to waste your time and energy inviting someone who doesn't like you but likes 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 and 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 w hen 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.

If the friend makes a pattern of telling you what awesome thing they did instead when they ditched you, you will need to 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. This guy says it better, though, and he is correct: you have to crack the door open and have faith in yourself that 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.