Anxiety disorder: A group of mental disorders characterized by significant feelings of anxiety and fear.
Social anxiety: Chronic mental health condition which social interactions cause irrational anxiety.
Narcissism: A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self importance.
Since starting Prozac, I recognize that a lot of my past actions have been due to anxiety. Control, trust, and anger issues all came from deep rooted fear. Medication and a whole lot of thinking are helping to correct these problems as understanding why is key. But then because my brain can’t leave well enough alone, I start to question this. Can I really blame my negative behavior on my anxiety? Or like the villain in your favorite book, am I just an asshole and don’t realize it?
Over the years I have had a string of female friendships that ended badly. I’ve tried to figure out what I am doing wrong and why I am unable to maintain these friendships. Don’t get me wrong. I am lucky enough to have a BFF that is also my sister-in-law. I have a college buddy who I consider family. And one of my oldest friends is somebody I don’t see often but know I can count on.
I have written and rewritten this post over the past few years. I feel exposed and weak when I think about putting it out there for all to read. But I want to deal with this head on so I can start to embrace that camaraderie, get this village that everyone talks about, and be more open to friendships that I would normally shy away from.
When I was in sixth grade my core group of friends told me flat out that I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. In junior high I was a loner who was constantly bullied. In high school I finally made a few “friends” who always made snide comments about me, played practical jokes on me, and were rude to my family when they were at my house. Then I met Jen. She was a junior when I was a sophomore. She was athletic, funny, and didn’t take crap from anyone. She was six feet tall with an Afro of blonde curls (picture the McDonald’s Fry Guy). She took me under her wing and showed me kindness. Two years later our friendship ended because I was either being an asshole or my anxiety had sabotaged the one true friendship I had. Since then I have gone through an assortment of relationships.
So am I ending these friendships because I am afraid of getting hurt? Am I setting standards so high that nobody could possibly live up to them? Or have I just had bad luck with friends? And to complicate things further, I had an epiphany right before my 40th birthday. I finally saw that I wasn’t the awful person I had always made myself out to be. The hard work then became a matter of distinguishing between the voices of anxiety and my gut telling me, “You don’t deserve to be treated like this.” In the beginning I would stand up for myself by being aggressive and blunt. The more accepting I have become of myself, the easier it is to be firm but nice.
So am I a narcissistic asshole? Probably a little bit. Right now I am happy and content with the small group of friends I have. Fear may prevent me from reaching out for now. I have learned that I can be “too much” for most people. But that’s okay.