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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a 35 year old male who is married with kids, has a good education (masters degree), a good job, and has suffered from SA (without knowing it was called that) since around the onset of puberty. I think I have always been "high functioning" in that, while I never fit in to groups or was invited to parties, I could typically make a few acquaintances here and there and even come to consider them friends. I became skilled at hiding my social dysfunction from others and myself (people just thought of me as quiet and shy). I had a few girlfriends, I even managed to get married to a wonderful woman and we have great kids.

But as I hit my mid 30s the realization of how much of life I missed hit me squarely in the jaw. I suddenly became aware that other people my age had groups of friends...I mean, my wife is a very outgoing person and people seem to break their necks fighting over each other to talk to her (an exaggeration but that's how it feels). My quietness has always been accepted as just the way I am and I have, by and large, been ignored.

So I've tried to elicit my wife's help and start going out more, start getting more involved in things. However, I feel rejected in any social situation. I think that people find me creepy and would prefer it if I weren't there. I feel like when I try to talk to someone I'm forcing my hideous presence on them and, in the interest of not offending anyone, I withdraw.

I'm at a crossroads...should I still even bother to interact with people or should I crawl back into the shell that has protected me for decades? The sad thing is that I'm really f***ing up my family life because this internal struggle is making me miserable and my family sees it.

I've read stories on here about other people who are so profoundly effected by their SA that they didn't finish school, start families and careers, etc and this makes me feel like I am whining and should just toughen up since I seem to have a milder form than some.

I didn't intend to write so much...I can barely string together 3 words verbally but when I write the words sometimes flood out.
 

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Your wife may have to accept some sort of compromise in the way of expecting you to socialise more. It sounds like you feel under pressure in that regard.
Both my wife and I are shy so we don't have many other firends. We put little or pressure on each other to meet new people.The problem with us is we are not expanding our world. If you feel you need to challenge yourself go for it but don't be coerced into doing something just to please your partner.
 

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first, I'll say your situation sounds a lot like mine has been. my SA has taken much the same form. I can make acquaintances, even a friend from time to time.

your situation is your own, however, and you are the one who has to live it. so no, you're not whining. if you feel alienated and not a part of things as you would like to be, and it's affecting your life and those around you, your sense of happiness and contentment, then it's a problem.

I am 47. You can make a difference even now. If I had started to seriously tackle the problem when I was your age, I am convinced that I would be living a different life now, a more satisfying one.

It is not too late.

Here's some ideas to consider: would it be possible for you to take some sort of sabbatical from your job? There is the Social Anxiety Institute. they do wonderful work. you can google it of course, and find out more about it. they hold several-week-long groups that concentrate on CBT to deal with SA. it's a very good program. It sounds like you may have the means to swing this. Even if it takes a year or so to put together the plans to attend, it will be worth it in the long run. I recently read a review by someone who attended this program. they were very happy with it and helped them immensely, and that person was 49 when he attended.

You may not be able to eliminate it altogether, but you can certainly do things to make it easier for you to cope. Good luck!

PS - incidentally, I would caution against leaning on your wife to help you with this. I believe that those who don't suffer with SA can't really do anything to fix it, and family and relatives, while they can root for you and all that, aren't there to be your therapists.

I am a 35 year old male who is married with kids, has a good education (masters degree), a good job, and has suffered from SA (without knowing it was called that) since around the onset of puberty. I think I have always been "high functioning" in that, while I never fit in to groups or was invited to parties, I could typically make a few acquaintances here and there and even come to consider them friends. I became skilled at hiding my social dysfunction from others and myself (people just thought of me as quiet and shy). I had a few girlfriends, I even managed to get married to a wonderful woman and we have great kids.

But as I hit my mid 30s the realization of how much of life I missed hit me squarely in the jaw. I suddenly became aware that other people my age had groups of friends...I mean, my wife is a very outgoing person and people seem to break their necks fighting over each other to talk to her (an exaggeration but that's how it feels). My quietness has always been accepted as just the way I am and I have, by and large, been ignored.

So I've tried to elicit my wife's help and start going out more, start getting more involved in things. However, I feel rejected in any social situation. I think that people find me creepy and would prefer it if I weren't there. I feel like when I try to talk to someone I'm forcing my hideous presence on them and, in the interest of not offending anyone, I withdraw.

I'm at a crossroads...should I still even bother to interact with people or should I crawl back into the shell that has protected me for decades? The sad thing is that I'm really f***ing up my family life because this internal struggle is making me miserable and my family sees it.

I've read stories on here about other people who are so profoundly effected by their SA that they didn't finish school, start families and careers, etc and this makes me feel like I am whining and should just toughen up since I seem to have a milder form than some.

I didn't intend to write so much...I can barely string together 3 words verbally but when I write the words sometimes flood out.
 

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I think that's a great idea to get your wife's support.

It's great that you've been able to be so highly functioning. I've abel to be highly functioning in my career, although my social anxiety has slowed me down and created some snafus sometimes, but, overall, I've done okay. I know I would go further without my anxiety though. I've not been successful in the relationship arena. That's wonderful that you've been able to pull it off. It gives me some hope.

I'm in a bit of the same place as you. I'd really love to be more social and, especially, have a relationship.

I'd so to just "go for it" and elicit your wife's support. I think, sometimes, you just have to ram right into your fear and take it over. That's what I am feeling like myself. It's hard though. Kudos to you for having the courage to consider taking it on.
 

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I think mid-life crises get a bad name. It's normal to hit an age where some options cease to be options, and others appear to be nearing a time when they'll no longer be realistic. When SA or other psych challenges have limited our options, or maybe more precisely the way we've responded has been self limiting, then the feelings of uncertainty and possibly regret are even more likely.

My 2 cents. Others have offered good advice about how to proceed from here. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the great replies, everyone. Leonardess, I agree that I should not lean on my wife too much...I think that is one of my problems and will try to rectify that. As for the sabbatical, I would love to do that but there's no way I can swing it. While I do have a good job I also have 3 kids and so money is always tight.

I think I need to get myself into therapy. I've always resisted that idea and the thought of telling such intimate details to a stranger is pretty horrifying. However, everything I've tried hasn't been working and I know that a lot of my thoughts are irrational...maybe it will help.
 

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I think I need to get myself into therapy. I've always resisted that idea and the thought of telling such intimate details to a stranger is pretty horrifying. However, everything I've tried hasn't been working and I know that a lot of my thoughts are irrational...maybe it will help.
Yeah, I think therapy is good. I am 43 and started therapy 6 months ago. It's good. It's hard some days, but good, overall, I think. I think it helps to find the right person, that you really feel comfortable sharing such details. I went to someone for 3 weeks and I couldn't imagine opening up to her She was mid-fifties and I just didn't click with her.

My current therapist is mid-30s and the kind of person I'd want to be friends with. She's very kind and caring. She's also technologically savvy, which, I think, helps a lot. She touched on something last week and I literally froze for 5 minutes; I couldn't speak. She told me I could email her later, if I felt more comfortable, which I did. There were somethings i have never spoken to anyone about and never planned to. I asked her to please not talk about it for a while, which she agreed to. Even though we may not talk about it, I am kind of relieved to have shared some of the background details with her, so she understands me better. I can't imagine doing therapy without email. At least she now gets what topics will cause me to go catatonic and has some background as to why. :)
 

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When I was in my twenties, I thought I was missing out on some great life experiences because I didn't go to many parties or organized social events. But whenever I did go to a party it seemed shallow, strained and extremely boring. I would think to myself: "Wow, what a mistake coming here, I put down a good book for this!" I can honestly say the most fun, profound and meaningful social experience I ever had was was a casual get together where everyone was dropping acid. There was no bragging, pretension and/or "one upmanship".

You could join an organization that involves a hobby or do some volunteer work. Usually, but not always, the recipents in a volunteer job appreciate your efforts. I used to work in a homeless shelter, but that could be depressing also. Maybe you could look for something fun, active and outdoorsy such as a nature hike or canoe club.
 
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