I’ve been sitting in my cube at work falling apart for the last hour, so I figure I’d better write some of it down before it passes and I try to tell myself and everyone else “it’s nothing, really.” It’s not nothing, I don’t think, or maybe that’s just the frustration talking. 

I hate free-association socializing. I’ve never felt comfortable in large groups of people without direct purpose. I can sit in any sized meeting or lecture without a problem. I can even lead such an event if I have a reason to be there, but just “hanging out” with more than a very few people makes me feel isolated, alienated and exposed. I don’t know why. I don’t like feeling that way, but I don’t know how to make it go away. Also, the number of people that I can handle in this fashion drops rapidly when people I don’t know are involved. I don’t even know if it’s insecurity or self-consciousness or what. I can’t fix the problem if I don’t know what the problem is, and I have no way of telling what it is. I just… don’t feel safe.

So, of course, one of my friends in the area is keen on turning all of the little get-togethers that had been happening in the area into large get-togethers, with lots of people I don’t know present for no reason other than to hang out. Monday nights have traditionally been one of these regularly scheduled meets, and for a long time they were restricted to five or six people. Restricted’s the wrong word, but we never had more than that many show up at once, and I had a blast. Over the last three weeks, though, more and more people have begun attending, including a lot of people I’ve never met before even online, and I’ve been more and more strung-out and stressed coming home afterwards as a result. It’s nobody’s fault, except my own if you can assign blame to it, but even there if it were something I could just fix then I would. It’s something I don’t know how to cure, or even to treat.

Last night, a number of things had all gone wrong over the course of the weekend prior. It had been the third weekend of not having any time to myself with Jessie, and we had just finished a thirty-six hour roadtrip to Michigan to rescue a friend from potential homelessness. I’d forgotten to pack my hormones for the trip, so for two days I was off my pills. I woke up yesterday morning and tipped the scales at 280, which is the highest I’ve been since before I started my diet two years ago. Then I went out to eat with a bunch of people, including a host of people I didn’t know very well and one person that actively irritates me.

I didn’t handle things very well.

I didn’t yell or shout or scream or make a scene, but I did hunch over feeling vaguely sick to my stomach most of the night, nervous and uncomfortable. I kept feeling exposed and vulnerable, for no good reason. Nobody made any unkind comments, nobody did anything to hurt me, and I don’t think anyone would have tried to do anything, but I just didn’t feel comfortable. I felt unwelcome at a table of close friends and family at Thanksgiving last year
because I was the only one not eating an appetizer, so I
know it’s my problem, not anyone else’s, but that didn’t make my hasty departure last night any more comprehensible or acceptable.

Jessie asked me last night if I wanted zim to try to talk with the one that originally organized the dinners about what had happened and explain that I wouldn’t be making it any more, and I said yes. So, of course, this morning
zie did, and then zie called me on the phone to say that the organizer had gotten very upset and to inform me directly that I
would  would continue to go to Monday night dinner with the rest of group, until either I learned how to handle being around large groups of people in a social setting or I ran screaming into the night, whichever came first.

For the life of me, I don’t know what to do now.

I hate being like this. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable around people I like. I don’t enjoy feeling so vulnerable, and I want to get over whatever it is that’s causing me to feel this way. However, I don’t even know what the real problem is, and I can’t solve what I don’t understand. If I don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t make it right, and right now all I have is the sense that something is broken in my head without indication of how to repair what’s damaged.

Now, though, I feel like anything I do with respect to Monday nights is going to make things worse. If I go, I’m going to feel like nobody wants me there because they all think I don’t want to be there. If I don’t go, I’m going to
wish I had and feel even more isolated than I already do. I’m caught, and I don’t know how to get out. The problem is in my own head, and I
know  it is, but I don’t know how to fix it.

I want things to go back to the way they were before, but that’s not going to happen now. The only way for them to go back to how they were would be to tell other people they’re not welcome, and I’m not going to do that. I wouldn’t even if I had the power, because it’s not fair to them. The problem is with me, not with them, and I have to be the one to fix it, not them. 

I just don’t know how.