Post has shared content
Story #1 8.20.17 Friends Baby Shower
8.20.17

My first entry. Today marks day one that I record the emotions of a day riddled and disturbed by anxiety. I write this to help my loved ones understand, to help myself understand and to better my chances for success in the future when i feel perturbed by a silent suspect.

To give some context, today must be explained by going back a day, possibly a week or even more. As of today I have 38 days to save enough funds to travel to see the love of my life as we battle a long distant relationship. Saving money is stressful. I don’t know how people do it so easily as it’s taking everything I have to be able to buy my airline ticket alone. I have been working nonstop for about two weeks now, taking sub hours from other therapists, as well as my current caseload. But the payout is worth it to be able to afford to see and hug the love of my life. He has been away from home traveling europe, first with the purpose to support a family member through a medical procedure, so his need to be in another country was just that, a need. Now the responsibilities are complete but he has the time and chance to visit some family and friends scattered throughout europe. Now, I love my person so much and I know that he needs the break. he worked his ass off the last few years and dropped more money on a trip to see me than I’ve ever had in my life. With that said, when he left we both agreed that we have to buckle down and work to save the money necessary for a rendezvous at his friends destination wedding. So engage beast mode to work and save money. Never in my life had I saved money in this way and it feels good. I haven’t been able to supplement my boyfriends trip here or contribute funds before. So the reward of working hard to afford a trip on my own has its own reward of pride of accomplishing something that has always been a challenge for me. And, of course, knowing that my boyfriend is on the other side of all this work is enough in itself to encourage the dedication to long work weeks. But the bitterness I’ve accumulated over the last couple weeks is fueled by the fact that, right now, I’m working and he’s vacationing. And as much as I love him, its causing a dormant resentment that triggered in me this morning and started me off on the wrong foot today. I started a little aggravated and bitter. And the day progresses to my having to attend an event for his friends. So you can already imagine the bitterness I feel for today.

This weekend was an opportunity to relax from work which I needed more than I realized. However, I saw an open weekend and wanted to use the time and chance to volunteer to earn a free spartan race. I signed up for the 12 hour volunteer shift, as it was the only option when i signed up. I wanted a free race so i did it. The experience was horrible but i only realized how bad it was after the fact. I was overworked, under appreciated and felt rather stranded for 8/12 hours i was working, with no food, water or breaks. By the end of the day I had a headache, felt wronged and was absolutely exhausted. In the past feeling wronged, the way i did after the volunteer shift, has been a fail proof trigger for my anxiety. However, with that said I maintained and remained composed all day and ended the night tired and bitter but not anxious on the verge of a breakdown. I had hope that “tomorrow is a new day, and you can put this day to rest”.
When I awoke for the next day the headache lingered still. I drank water but waited to eat because i was headed to an event that started at 1:00, as the invitation kindly asked us to be there by 1.

This event happened to be the baby shower of my boyfriend’s ex best friend’s fiancé and him. When I received the invitation i replied that I would be there. I genuinely do not feel happy for the couple as the route they’ve taken to be in the position they are was a little too unconventional for my taste. I believe the male half of the couple is settling, never intended to become a father so soon and the woman involved is reveling in the fact that she has somehow gotten everything she wanted. Its been a tense situation for me that I’ve faked all my approval and happiness around.
This was not the first event for this couple and it wasn’t going to be their last. (it’ll be my last, i can guarantee that)
The male half of the couple used to be a dear friend to my boyfriend. When my boyfriend moved back to dubai (nearly three years ago) the relationship between myself and all his friends changed drastically. For the first two years I attempted (was the only one to attempt) to maintain these friendships because they were important to my boyfriend. Over time I have realized the true nature of my relationship with these people. That they invite me as a courtesy, that I hold no place of real value to them and that, if i were not my boyfriends girlfriend, i would not be here. But they invite me and I said I’ll be there.
And I wonder why. Why do I fake happiness for people who fake happiness toward me? And it’s not only once, time and time again i do this to myself.
My boyfriend no longer feels the same connection to these people and the last time he was here we saw for ourselves who we can truly refer to as friends. This couple, having a baby, getting married and living the dream do not make the cut in terms of people we can refer to as friends. My boyfriends friend barely made efforts to see him, made excuses for not spending time with him and made very selfish decisions that affected an entire group and he really didn’t have the passion for the friendship that he used to have. When my boyfriend left he told me i didn’t have to continue to see them. I was invited to their engagement party and rsvpd yes, then cancelled the day of with a fabricated illness. I knew I couldn’t pull another one so, as a woman of my word, i attended their baby shower today.

And this is the first time I had an anxiety attack in the presence of these “friends”. All but two of them had no clue how to “handle” me. And bless their hearts did they try.

These events, with this group of people (my boyfriends original group of friends in LA) are some of the hardest days to miss my boo. These are his people and they are people I wouldn’t have chosen to associate with but if you know my boyfriend you know he’s a strong personality and he draws people to him. He made strong friendships with these people that were maintained through our college years. Our priorities were different. We wanted friends to just be stupid with and unwind at the end of the day. And this group of people were great. He solidified friendships that we both thought would last forever and as far as I thought, I was happy. I befriended all the same people but always felt i was trying to earn my keep with them. I wasn’t appreciated for the quirky things that make me myself. I couldn’t interject in conversation because, honestly, the men were misogynistic and dominated all hangouts, dinner, events, etc. I felt like i was drowning in their expectations and was never good enough for them. My jokes went unappreciated and over time (this is about three-four years we’re talking) I lost myself. I lost what made me unique, I lost my confidence (despite a HUGE body transformation for the better) and just didn’t have an identity anymore. Even looking back, behind closed doors with my boyfriend i wasn’t even myself anymore. I never felt good enough, I worried about letting everyone down all the time (this was prior to my anxiety diagnosis) and if it hadn’t been for the unending support and love from my boyfriend, idk what would’ve become of me as a person.

October 2014, my boyfriend moved back to Dubai. We had a strong basis by which we relied on to maintain our love and devotion across an unknown time period and a very known 8,315 miles. (I’ll tell you now I love the man 10x as much as I did when he left and everything I do, EVERYTHING, is to one day see him. We know what we have and the patience and dedication between us is unmatched. He and I are doing as well as we can in our situation) When he moved back, I became a stranger to these people, except when there are social events that they feel obligated to invite me to out of courtesy to my boyfriend. I don’t believe i am invited anywhere with them because they genuinely want me there.

So today, I found myself getting ready for another one of these weird events where I keep getting invited, despite not really knowing why. When I am not there, I am not missed. No one reaches out asking “oh where were you?” and the last event of theirs that I claimed illness to get out of? I never even heard back from them when i told them i had to cancel. But I did it. I put on a dress, curled my hair, worried how i looked, made sure my ensemble was on point etc etc. But as I made the 30 mile drive to their house I was wondering why. Why was I going today? Why did I go through the effort to get pretty, to use a half tank of gas to get to and from the party, to spend money i don’t have on a gift for a couple I “keep up appearances” with while i struggle financially?
And it dawned on me the only reason I was going was because I RSVPd that I would. And a solution immediately came to my mind.
IF I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SOMETHING I CAN SAY NO. This concept has been lost on me for years. Doing things for others does not make you happy, unless what you’re doing makes you happy. I will gladly give up the time to volunteer for a good cause and while that is for others, it makes me happy as well.

Moving on…
So I arrive at this party that requested we arrive by 1pm, on the formal invitation, so you’d think, as an attendee that things were starting AT 1:00. So, many attendees, myself included, did not eat prior to the party. I had made the decision to stay for two hours or until they opened gifts, whichever came first. But by 2:15 nothing had happened at the party. Now, I am a realistic person and I understand that party planning is intense and that it takes A LOT to get an event together (and this wasn’t a small event, about 100 people had rsvpd yes) but the party planners were still setting up table displays an hour after people had arrived. I eventually found my name placard on the table, almost. My name was misspelled, and it wasn’t even a small mistake. Ive known these people for 6 years, in the time of Facebook. And yet, my name was not spelled right. It just kind of put into perspective the importance of me to these people.
Moving on….
it was hot, there was nothing to eat, nothing to do except catch up with everyone and “catching up” with everyone in this group means that they all, individually, take their turns asking me “how’s it going with arash, do you miss him?” or some variation of that question. After years I've figured out that just giving a blanket answer to everyone is the best way to ignore the emotions stirred up every time I’m asked this. So I absentmindedly blurted back “hanging in there”, “oh it sucks but we are ok” and “i miss him but i get to see him soon”. These are all answers that I’ve had success moving the conversation along with and it lets people know that Im not really looking to get into more details about my constant heartbreak at not seeing him everyday, missing the little things like the way he makes me laugh, the difference in how it feels when he’s here vs when he’s gone and so much more. And usually the people who ask are satisfied with that answer, they respond with another cliche and i move on to the next person and repeat this over and over again and very often I am commended on enduring the distance and pushing through being away from him.

That is until the last person asked me the same question today. There is one girl in this group of “the guys girlfriends” as I refer to them that I feel a real relationship with. I refer to them as the girl friends only because they all seem content in being the second in command in their relationships and all seem ok with the misogyny around them all day and the fact that the gentlemen in our group don’t take any one them seriously.
Ironically she’s the newest girlfriend in the group and it makes sense that I’d connect with the one girlfriend in the group who doesn’t tolerate that shit and stands up for herself. Amanda is a sweetheart and I feel like I can talk to her in a real way as opposed to the fake statements I make to the others. So when SHE asked me today “how I’m doing with arash” I was honest and told her “today I’m kind of at a breaking point”. This is unlike me. I tend to keep it to myself, keep my head down, accept the compliments that “you’re so strong to be in a long distance relationship” and deal with my real emotions when I’m away from these people. After all, this is why they think I’m so strong. But uttering the phrase “I’m kind of at a breaking point” caused me to actually hit that breaking point. I started to tear up. Now, at this point I’m still in control. Usually a couple waves of my hands over my eyes will help dry the tears, usually a few deep breaths and a step back into my thoughts and reassurances will get me back on track and the appearances will all come back. But as one person noticed my teary eyes, another noticed and about three people were then asking me if I was ok. I tried to explain through my light tears that I was just struggling with missing arash and that id be ok. Until words couldn’t come out and I knew my light tears were about to escalate to crying, real, sad, gasping crying. So i excused myself. I found the room in the house that I was most comfortable in (the garage where many days were spent playing video games and smoking weed with my boyfriend and his friends).

There I succumbed to my tears. I let myself cry. The cry I cry when I’ve admitted defeat to anxiety. The cry that cleanses. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t go away quickly. The cry that closes your chest so you can’t breathe and shakes your hands. The cry that makes your head spin. And the worry. The worry that I’m not strong enough to keep going in that moment. The worry that I’m so easily defeated by my over worrying, yes you heard that right, I was worried about all the worrying I do. But i knew where I was, I knew that appearances had to be maintained so after about 7 minutes of crying, deep breaths and shaking I tried to bring myself back to. My tears stopped, I wiped my face, took a deep breath and told myself “you can do this, you’ve done it before” and I walked back outside.

Poor Amanda felt responsible and I felt bad for making her feel like it was her fault. But she came up to me and hugged me and didn’t require any explanation. She said “You don’t have to apologize. I could never do what you do and you’re allowed to feel this way”. And a friend I considered “tertiary” only because I’ve spent a limited amount of time with was right there next to her consoling me. (I knew he was lost in dealing with someone having a breakdown but he was there, silently at first but then kept reminding me that “you’re awesome, and its ok to cry”)
I told them I was going to go home and they both tried to convince me to stay and offered to help me but I didn’t want to detract from my friends baby shower (i wasn’t thrilled to be there and didn’t really care about the baby shower personally but I’m still a decent human being who knows that this day is special to the mom and dad to be and I’d be damned to cause drama or be a focal point on their happy day)

When I explained to the soon to be parents why i was leaving, the mom understood, dad seemed confused which just reinforces the concept that the guys in the group are just disconnected from me.

Anxiety attacks are unpredictable, messy and sometimes can’t be solved by anyone except the person afflicted. But to have people there to try means so much. And their attempts were some of the best I’ve encountered. They didn’t trivialize my emotions, instead they validated me. When i wanted to leave they tried to get me to stay but they didn’t force it. And as I left amanda and her boyfriend Jon (a dear friend that i would not group into the main complaints i have about this social group) told me “lets hang out, lets go rock climbing!") which proves they can see past my anxiety.

With that said, this is the first time the emotions of being near these people caused me to lose control while in their presence and from the reactions i received, none of them took me seriously. And then i think, maybe they did take me seriously but my anxiety was triggered to the point where i believed everyone was judging my departure, talking about me as I left and rolling their eyes at the “drama I caused today”. Because THATS what anxiety does.
Even though I had just been through a full blown anxiety attack, to which i was unable to recover from for about 45 minutes, i was still concerned what people were thinking about me. As I drove home through tears I angrily thought to myself “fuck them, fuck what they think, you need to take care of yourself”. If they think I’m weak for succumbing to my anxiety, then fuck them. If they think i was trying to find a “way out” of a slow moving party, then fuck them. My mental health is more important than acceptance into a group that I’m already not accepted into.

So i drove myself home. Forty minutes of tears, headache, worry and pain. Tears from the relentless emotions of the day, headache from hours without food, worry of how my departure looked at this party and pain in knowing that I was defeated by my own mind. Defeated by my own overthinking and my own stress from missing the most important person in my life.

But today, I survived another anxiety attack.
Wait while more posts are being loaded