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Hi. I'm Erica. This is my first time here, second post.

Today I was put into a position where I couldn't tell if I was acting paranoid and crazy, or if my feelings were justified. I need some feedback on this. I thought about calling the local crisis line, but even though phone calls have gotten a lot easier for me the past few months, I feel anxious making private calls like that when I'm at home when voices carry so well.

For some time now I've been living with my parents. I graduated university in 2012, moved back home, and languished until my depression hit it's new all-time low last summer. Since then I've been in treatment for depression, general anxiety, and social anxiety (the worst of my anxiety). Things have gotten so much better for me, but some days, like today, are still really hard.

My older sister moved back in with us last fall. She's recently been dating a guy, we'll call him K, and the truth is I don't like him. He has boisterous personality and has often poked fun at me when he's been here. His jokes are usually inappropriate and sometimes ridiculing.

I've always had trouble understanding social etiquette and how to act around other people. I'm not used to being around people outside of my family, even despite my tenure away at university. That has had an effect on my expectations of others and how I act around them (but that's another story). Regardless, I'm used to being able to act and live a certain way when I'm at home.

That's not the case when K has stayed over here. I have felt anxious and unsafe, and I have trouble conveying that to my family. It's not that he seems dangerous, necessarily, just that his presence is unnerving for me. The first few times he stayed overnight, I've stayed up late with panic attacks. My mother tells me I've been overreacting. I know you'll understand me when I say it felt very much out of my control.

But I know it's something I have to get used to. And gradually I did become more comfortable with K being around (my sister is more likely to go to his place then he is to come here). Up until just after Christmas, it was actually pretty good. Then he played an awful prank on me.

I was out for a walk. It had been a stressful day--my sister had become hostile and inconsolable when the sewing machine broke and she had work left on some little bags she was making to sell. I thought a walk would calm me down. While I was walking down the street, K drove by with my sister (she'd gone to pick him up from work because she had his car) and he feigned running the car into me (There are no sidewalks or barriers on the road near my house so I was just off the side of the road). It was just a little swerve, but I was terrified. I screamed, "That wasn't funny!" after them; I had seen them laughing in the front seat of the car. Even worse than the fright it gave me, it had been a very dangerous thing to do; in the roads are very slippery, especially near our house where the plow doesn't often come, and what's more they were sandwiched between two other vehicles on the same road. The situation could have easily turned disastrous.

By the time I got back from my walk, K had left. My sister told me she was sorry for the prank, and that K was as well, but since then I have never heard him apologize to me directly. In fact, it would seem nothing had happened.

I don't want to bring it up with him. Truthfully, I don't want anything more to do with him. I've gone back to avoiding him whenever he's over here. I know not speaking to him at all, even when he says hello, is a little crazy. I don't feel confidant in asserting myself and relating my discomfort to him and my sister, that I'd rather have nothing to do with him and him with me. I know most people would say that's going to be very hard because he's dating my sister. I live with her, she might in some way feel she wants me to get along with him. But I don't care who my sister has a relationship with; so as long they don't interfere with me and my life, I won't interfere with theirs. We're just not the kind of family where we're deeply involved in each other's lives, hostile interrogation and criticism notwithstanding. We have a younger brother who lives away from home in another city, and though we keep in touch, he lives his life and I live mine. Though, to be honest, my sister often does try to interfere with his life and criticizes him.

The point is, I just want K to ignore me, to leave me alone, as much as I intend to ignore him.

Which brings me to today.

I have a form I need to drop off in person (I can't mail it or fill it out online), at an office the next town over (about a twenty minute drive away). It's due tomorrow and one way or another I'll have to get it there, though I can't drive a car myself and will either need to get a ride from a family member or take the bus (which is very nerve-wracking for me). The whole thing seems a little ridiculous, but I assure you it's necessary and unavoidable.

K lives in that town, however, and today my mother and sister suggested he take the form drop it off for me.

I don't need to sign anything or even speak to anyone when I drop it off. I can just drop it into a slot. But it is a a private matter, and I don't feel comfortable sending it with him. It's likely he knows what the form is and exactly what's going on with me, because my sister is also a gossip. I've overheard her (she's very loud, her room is right next door to mine, and sound carries well in my house) telling my mother all about her friend's divorce troubles. Consequentially, I know more about it than I care too. That's just one example.

Part of why I don't trust K is because I know he has at least some second-hand knowledge of my life and actions, and that alone makes me very uncomfortable.

Now I feel like I'm being treated like a villain by my mother and my sister because I didn't immediately jump up and shout "Thank you, yes please!" when it was offered (through my mother, orchestrated by my sister). Afterward, I even overheard my sister say, "Oh is she being a cranky-britches today?" That made me feel even worse. Then my sister started to say, "I don't know why she wouldn't just let him take it," but my mother cut her off. I don't know if my mother was trying to protect me because she knew I could hear everything, or if she was worried I would fly into a rage like I used to, despite that it's something I haven't done for almost a year now.

I don't know if my distrust of K is social anxiety and I made a mistake in saying now to him, or if it's justified based on everything that's gone on so far. Or both.

I don't think I'll ever be able to trust K, or even become friendly with him. I also don't know how to convey this to my sister and my mother without starting an argument.

Now I feel depressed, grouchy (I wasn't before this went on, but I suppose my sister is now accurate in describing me as a "cranky-britches"), and a little more stressed out about this form than I had been. I feel as though I might start crying. I'm thankful for the medication I've been taking because it at least gives me a bit of control over my emotions.

So, any advice?
 

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I think your feelings are totally legitimate. Trust your intuition. If you don't like or trust this person, there's probably a reason, even if that reason's not obvious. I personally haven't liked a few of my sisters boyfriends, and while at the time I never noticed, but I realize they never liked my boyfriends either. And I genuinely never understood why until we broke up, unfortunately.

Sorry I don't have tons of advice, just wanted to let you know I think you have a right to how you feel, and I know what it's like to not feel close to your family and not really want to take part in their lives, or vice versa.

It sounds like your sister and her bf are your typical extroverts that have no idea that as much as they think you come off as "rude" or "*****y" or whatever it may be, it sounds like they coming off as abrasive and annoying and like they can do no wrong or something. So maybe this is all a friction thing of you guys not fully understanding each other. I'm getting this from the comment she made about you being "cranky" - my family made this comment to me all the time, and I thought it was completely ignorant. I imagine my family, and yours, would hate for you to say that about them when they were annoyed or whatever. You might even want to point that out. Respect all around is necessary.

Maybe your sisters boyfriend is trying to play around with you in a way that he only knows how, or treat you the way an older brother would. I can't imagine it being personal really, maybe he just doesn't know any better.

I think it might be nice to try to a point you can at least somewhat tolerate, because they are your family, but with that being said, it's a two way street and they should try too, you know?

Family is so effing difficult... hope it works out for you anyway, and sorry I couldn't really give advice that makes sense.
 

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sounds like they're jerks. i would just take the bus. at least the people in the bus don't know your situation and probably won't bother you.
 

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Today I was put into a position where I couldn't tell if I was acting paranoid and crazy, or if my feelings were justified. I need some feedback on this.
Good evening Erica, and congratulations on writing perhaps the longest wall of text I have ever stumbled across on this site. I must say it is quite a feat.

Regardless, I will show you the faults I see in this situation and provide a viable solution. You may dislike what I have to say, and may disregard my words if you wish as I do not live in the situation you do, but these are my thoughts nevertheless.

There is no need to go to a crisis line, as I see no crisis in this situation at all. If anything, if you really wish for help you need to see a therapist. What you suffer from is trust issues, and K for what ever reason seems to be at the heart of your distrust. While being a boisterous and inappropriate person he may seem incredibly unreliable. Thinking such a way is understandable, and if I had to associate with such a person I would think similarly. However, the sheer effect this boyfriend has on your life is ridiculous, and the reason for being so is because you let him bother you and get under your skin.

I think these trust issues of yours run far deeper than you might think. Even if K was no longer around, I have a feeling you would direct this negativity towards someone else, a person who can at times be nothing more than a minor inconvenience or nuisance, but seems like a much larger one due to inexperience.

By ignoring him completely you are running away from the situation, and in turn giving K an even bigger reason to pester you. Sit down with your mother and sister and tell them clearly you dislike K, but your sister can make her own decisions. If K comes over tell them you would like it if you were not around at the same time or if your sister and K went elsewhere. Or perhaps you can do your own thing (like watch TV, read in your room, play on the computer/video games) when he is around, lock yourself in your room so to speak until he is gone. You should not have to rearrange your schedule or do something you do not wish to do just because of a single person.

You mentioned a very important form and if K saw it he would "know exactly what was going on" with you. I am assuming this is your anxiety or disdain towards him. Regardless, why should it matter if he sees or does not? Why should you have to hide your feelings towards him? If you dislike him, if you do not wish to tolerate him and his rude behavior, then simply say so outright. Not in a snobbish way, of course, but instead tell him quite calmly his personality can be overbearing and to tone it down a bit when you are around.

Not relying on K for something you considered really important was your decision. Considering you trust him little if at all, I would not have trusted him with it either no matter what the form or document may have been. Trust is something that must be developed over time. Give him a few chances over smaller tasks to see if he is reliable, little tests here and there or opportunities for him to gain your trust. As things are now, you are shunning K and not even willing to give him a chance. You mentioned your family was not overly close in the sense you were constantly getting into one anothers lives. A family does not necessarily have to be that way, but it is one thing to be incredibly close and another to cut people off completely. Shutting others out creates nothing but dysfunctionality and further isolation.

I would suggest giving K a few chances. He may be imbecilic (considering the car incident) and unreliable in your eyes, but perhaps he will surprise you. Your sister must see something in him, after all. For all you know this relationship of theirs could end in a few months, perhaps within the week. Until then you must merely co-exist with K and put the experience under your belt as a step towards conquering social anxiety with all people and dealing with irritating individuals. Adaptability is quite the handy skill in life, after all, and challenges are created to be met head on and overcome. You might as well get used to tolerating such inconviences now while you can.
 
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