I on the other hand...well...I feel like a social caterpillar wrapped up in my cocoon. I can handle small gatherings of maybe 6 or 8 people, but the minute I find myself surrounded by anything larger my anxiety elevates to dangerous levels. Just the act of getting ready to go to a large party makes me act like a crazed animal. I tear through the clothing hanging in my closet deeming each item as unsuitable, uncomfortable, or just too "blah"(this part usually drives my husband batty). I look at my small shoe collection lamenting that I don't have the perfect Cinderella slipper for the occasion. I sit on my bed, tears gathering in my eyes, looking at myself in the mirror and finding all the things I feel are "wrong" with me. I don't feel attractive. I'm not fun or interesting. I'm not blah, blah, blah (just fill in whatever self demeaning thing you can think of).
At the root of all this drama is the fact that I feel socially inept...at least right now. My life for the last year and a half has been absorbed by Rae and all these damn doctors & therapists. I try to get out, but it isn't easy to just "do lunch" when your trying to make sure you have enough money to cover anti-seizure meds or some other test they (doctors) want to try. Add in the complication of working around Rae's therapy schedule plus my poor attempt at a nap time routine and...well... you get the picture. I even find myself shying away from doing free things because gas ain't cheap and I probably need it to go to another doctor appointment. I swear, I talk to Rae's therapist like they are my best friends (I have even cracked jokes about that) because I see them every week and I look forward to their visits more than Rae does. So, my biggest social interaction is Facebook, the occasional phone call (from a friend instead of a collection agency/insurance rep/doctor), going for a walk with a girlfriend, and evenings at home with my husband (usually watching something from the DVR). Exciting life right?
So, is it any surprise that when it is time for me to join the "real world" where people go to work everyday, go out for dinner with friends, take exciting trips, and have steady girlfriends to "do lunch" (or do anything) with that I become angst ridden? I should think not! I don't know how to talk to them anymore. Everything in my world is about Rae and the last thing I need to talk about at a party is her latest diagnoses or test. Who wants to be a Debbie Downer?!? (The following is NOT a real conversation...just one I made up in my head...well except my response...that part is real.)
Random Partygoer: "We just got back from amazing trip to Italy. We dined at this lovely cafe with a view of the ocean and ate the best pasta I've ever had in my life. The beaches were a beautiful shade of blue like a topaz or aquamarine and Joe couldn't keep me out of the water. It was so refreshing! We traveled by gondola through Venice. It was so romantic and wonderful that I didn't want to come home! How have you been?"
Me: "Well the neurologist wants us to increase Rae's anti-seizure medication because she's been having stronger episodes again, but he's hopeful this new combination will work. The geneticist advised us to have genetic counseling before even thinking of having more children, but she's pretty sure a muscle biopsy will give us an answer. The pulmonary specialist said Rae doesn't have asthma, but she may have reflux so we have another test in two weeks. The therapist said that we'll be ordering a wheelchair sometime next summer. And the other day Rae blew bubbles by pursing her lips together and blowing with all her might!"Um...I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like good party conversation.
My imagination is always worse than reality. I went to a party this past weekend. I smiled, I laughed, I chatted, I nibbled party foods, I had two jello shots (call a cab!), and I even danced a little! I only felt awkward at the beginning of the party and as more people began to arrive my angst left. I talked about Rae just a teeny tiny bit, but I mostly tried to catch up with friends I haven't seen in over five months.
So, here's my party survival tip: Your friends know your life is a bit crazy and may be a tad one sided at the moment, but their okay with that...they understand (real friends usually do). Don't be afraid to go socialize. Divert the conversation away from you or your child and back to them. You may find out they're in the middle of their own nutty adventure.
It's good to reconnect with the outside world every once in awhile...in person...not just on Facebook.