Today, I realised something, that I hadn’t really noticed in the past.
My flatmate (M) came into the kitchen, while my other flatmate (H) and I were just hanging out. He came in to tell us to make sure we left the extractor fan on in the bathroom till the walls were completely dry, and that someone had turned it off just there. I told him it was me, because it’d be on for ages and I thought it needed to be switched off.
He didn’t insult me. He didn’t turn it into an argument. He wasn’t nasty in any way. He simply said, “Okay, well you need to leave the extractor on till the walls are dry,”.
In my head, it felt like a personal attack. I immediately felt as though I needed to defend myself. I started to rise to those feelings, and at the same time could feel stress and anxiety and, well, anger, bubbling up inside me. It made no sense. I had no reason to be angry, which just made me feel more stressed.
Thankfully, at that moment my Mum phoned, and I made a hasty exit.
But later on, I couldn’t help wondering what would’ve happened. Would I have given way to the anger and go on the defensive? Would I have changed the subject? Or would i have accepted what he said on moved on.
And it became apparent to me, that the third option would not have happened. And in most situations it doesn’t. When people say something to me that maybe I don’t agree with, like in the past when H told me that I should’ve left the kitchen when I had an hour long phone conversation with my Mum so that her and boyfriend could make and eat their dinner, I seem to take it as a personal attack. I can’t accept it, or brush it off, or ignore it- I feel this need to defend myself, or change the subject as quickly as possible, so that the situation de-escalates. Even though in reality, it hasn’t escalated at all, and someone has just made a totally normal comment or request.
It could be that is because of my social anxiety disorder (SAD). My SAD is essentially caused by a deep and intense fear of rejection and abandonment from friends, to the point where I find it impossible to talk to many people, because I fear their rejection so enormously.
But I worry it’s something else, something more. The more I consider these things, the more it begins to seem as though something else is going on. I need to know.