Sunday, April 13, 2014

'My Social Anxiety' or 'Why I Haven't Seen 'The Little Mermaid''

When I was very young, maybe five, six, or seven, one of the little girls who lived in the house next to ours had a birthday party. I was invited to attend, along with my older brother and sister, as we all played together quite often. I didn't know any of my friend's schoolmates who were also invited but I was having a good time regardless. At one point relatively early in the party my friend took me to her bedroom to show me some toy that she had. We played for a little while with whatever it was until we heard her mother call from the living room. My friend jumped up and went to see what her mom wanted, leaving me in her bedroom. A split second later, coinciding with my friend's exit from the hallway no doubt, I heard a giant cheer and all the other party guests singing "Happy birthday to you!..."

I was instantly mortified. I couldn't come out of the room now; all that attention would be on me because surely my friend was standing in the hallway entrance with all eyes on her! So... I waited. Of course my friend would run back and get me once the song was over... And then the song was over... No friend... I waited, at a loss as to what to do. The longer I waited the worse it got. I waited and unknowingly missed the brief window in which everyone would have been distracted by the cutting of the cake; the window in which I could have slipped out and joined the rest of the party unnoticed. Now everyone would be sitting down, eating cake, and if I walked out they would see me and know. Know that I had heard them singing and didn't bother to come out for some reason.

Surely my friend noticed I wasn't there... Surely any moment she or one of my siblings would come looking for me...

Paralyzed by my perceived lack of acceptable options I began to cry. I don't actually remember how long I sat in my neighbor's bedroom, crying, alone, but eventually my friend's mom walked past the door and noticed me. She of course came in and asked what was wrong, but what could I say? I'm crying because I feel left out? I feel abandoned? Your daughter didn't remember me? I didn't want people to look at me? I know I'm expected to be able to deal with this situation without a second thought but I don't know how? I couldn't say any of those things, so instead I said nothing. Quite naturally with my lack of response my friend's mom asked if I wanted to go home. Yes, yes I wanted to go home. I wanted to have never left home at all. I wanted so badly for this to never have happened.

The mom walked me back over to my house where she told my own mom that she had found me upset and didn't know why. Of course my mom was concerned and of course she asked me what happened. Of anyone in the world my mom should be the one that I could explain my feelings to, right? Well, no. Was I embarrassed? Did I think she wouldn't understand? Did I believe that it was such a minor thing that threw me that she would think I was silly? Did I just not have the words? Maybe all of those things were true. My mom sat with me on the couch and hugged me. She said "Did you just want to come home?" I nodded and she did not try to force anything more out of me.

Later that evening my siblings came home and reported that they had all watched 'The Little Mermaid' together. They described all the funny parts and I wished that I had gotten to see it too. I wished that I had known how to come out of that room. I wished that I had not cried and sealed my fate. I wished that someone had noticed me missing sooner. I wished that I was normal.

And I still haven't seen 'The Little Mermaid'.

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