I am a people person. I love interacting with people - it fills my cup and completes me. When I’m at work and clients are funnelled my way, I love having a positive, sociable interaction.
But in my personal life......
When I first had my kids I joined all the groups and circles etc., and tried to build a good support network. We all supported each other and I loved them and felt part of something. Now our kids are almost all at school, my friends are moving away and going back to work full time (I’m not as this doesn’t work for our family).
I wanted to throw myself into the school-mum scene but...I’ve changed. I feel different to everyone. I feel utterly alone.
I want to talk to people...but I am too scared. I play out saying a simple “hi” to other mums all morning, then drop off time comes and I crumple. If I do get talking to anyone, I spend days afterwards replying the conversation to check I didn’t say anything stupid. I have my husband check any texts I send to make sure I don’t sound ridiculous.
We moved house and I couldn’t bring myself to go and meet the neighbours. The first time they came to talk to me was about a complaint they had and now I’m terrified to talk to them again “in case I do anything else wrong”.
My anxiety is not (usually) a physical thing that I feel - it’s a cognitive thing. I think and I think and I replay and plan. I am so tired of thinking and hearing the sound of my own voice analyse everything I ever do.
Now school holidays are here, my kids want friends over and I’m too anxious to message any of the mums in case I embarrass myself. I don’t want my kids’ social life to suffer because of me.
How can I make friends and have a social circle again? It doesn’t help that there aren’t a lot of SAHM/majority-SAHM’s around to stop buy for a casual cup of tea - everyone’s too busy.
I admit, there’s a practical handicap, here, too - not having anyone to ask for favours/babysitting/help. If someone asked me to help them with their kids/weed their garden/clean out their garage, I’d be there in a second. But no one asks me, so I couldn’t possibly ask anyone else.
How do I meet people again and have friends?