The people who love me want me to be happy. I want to be happy. Even more, I want the people I love to be happy. My loved ones, for the most part, are normal people. To them, wanting me to be happy means wanting me to be safe and cared for, by someone normal and nice, wanting me to have a normal relationship, so that I am not alone. To that end I have been going out and meeting people.
This has resulted in my being exhausted and vulnerable and in an extreme state of weakness that resulted in a panic attack last night. I rarely experience panic anymore but, in the past two months I have had two such experiences.
I have experienced social anxiety for most of my life. Meeting strangers, no matter how nice they are, is exhausting and stressful. But meeting strangers, who are looking for something that I am incapable of giving, is so in the extreme. Nice people that want something pull at me. And no matter how hard I work at breaking the habit of “people-pleasing” when I am tired and not on my guard, I slip into the habit. So I have been trying to please my loved ones and I have been trying to be nice to strangers and I have been feeling pulled at.
Instead of listening to my own needs for solitude and withdrawal, I kept trying. I was trying to do what my loved ones think I need to do. To engage with others so that no one has to worry about me being alone and in pain. But being in pain because I loved someone is something that I cannot and will not avoid by distracting myself with others. I am not made that way. I believe pain teaches and heartache is something humans recover from.
The experience has borne fruit, the panic attack notwithstanding. A beloved was present as a voice in the night and I was reminded once again with empirical evidence that I am not alone. And with that beloved's help, I re-discovered the shadow child and the behavior that triggered her into speaking so loudly. Allowing myself to be pulled at by strangers. Feeling guilt and self-judgment about being incapable of connecting with others. Feeling guilt about not being able to make those I love happy because I feel differently about how to find happiness for my life.
I realize that my beloveds want me to be happy in whatever way I need. They would not judge me. I need to pay attention to what my internal committee tells me, what my heart tells me, even if that means being alone for a while to listen to the child, or to recover my balance, or to focus on my work. Healing takes time and space. Panic occurs when I feel trapped. I will give myself space enough to hear.