Living With Extreme Social Anxiety
Okay, so while I am certainly not shy online, I am PAINFULLY shy in person. To the point that I dread any sort of gathering, get together, or crowded place. Even family get-togethers are nerve-wrecking. Sure, I usually have some fun while I am participating, but I am a hot mess leading up to it. And then I end up feeling awkward and wanting to go home.
For example, if I were to walk into the club, this would be me:
Except I don't really go to clubs. I'm more of a dive bar, live music kinda gal. And I am a short, caucasian woman who definitely couldn't rock the dreads like that guy. (Those ARE dreads, right? I can't quite tell for sure.)
Anyway, social anxiety can be downright crippling sometimes. Sure, I have a lot less drama to deal with being an introvert, but I also have no one to talk to. No one to go grab lunch with. No one to call just to chat with. Having social anxiety is like living in a bubble of sorts. Sure, my bubble is totally awesome, but sometimes I wish I could learn to step outside of it without feeling horribly nervous and self-conscious. Or maybe sharing my happy little bubble with more people. That would be nice, too.
I used to be outgoing. Hell, I was a complete bad-ass as a teenager. Nerves? Forget about it. I would say anything that was on my mind without a moment's hesitation. But I think everything changed when I married my ex-husband way too young. (Why my parents allowed me to marry an absolute tyrant before the age of 18, I will never know.) My mind was not fully matured yet, so of course being in an abusive relationship changed me to the core. The fun, vivacious, relatively fearless girl I once was disappeared, and she was replaced with someone meek, afraid, and insecure. I mean, if you're basically cut off from the rest of the world for years and told constantly how worthless you are, after awhile you become programmed to believe it. Even many years out of that nightmare of a relationship, I still hear that voice in my head. It infuriates me that a man I have worked so hard to escape still has any influence over my thoughts and self-esteem. I guess it can take years to get over that, if one ever truly does.
Anyway, this is not a post about my first marriage. I have no interest in bashing my ex. I am remarried to an amazing man and have a beautiful family. I am happy with so many parts of my life, and no matter how often I recall the ex telling me I was unworthy of love, I know he was wrong. I have more love around me than I ever dreamed possible.
But I do wish that I could feel more confident in social situations. I wish I could form real friendships....Ones that exist beyond my computer screen. Since we moved here to Ohio, it's been really hard to meet people. I am home all day with the kids, and we don't really go out a whole lot. Of course when we DO get the chance to get out, I'm not the type to just go chat up a group of strangers.
I have to admit, it gets lonely. Don't get me wrong...I love my life. I have a great marriage, amazing kids, and tons of interests. I just find myself wishing I could find a way to shake this shyness and allow myself to get to know and get close to people. But it's SO damn hard.
Anyone else suffer from social anxiety? How do you cope? I can't be the only one who feels this way....
So if you're around my age or older, you probably know the song "Magic Man" by Heart. (Heck, even if you're younger you may know it...This was definitely a huge hit for this super-talented duo.)
I love the song...It's musical genius. It speaks of a woman giving herself completely to a cunning and manipulative man who just happened to possess a certain charm and magnetism. It's rumored to be about Charles Manson, but I don't know how true that is.
If you're not familiar with this song, check it out below. Be sure to pay attention to the lyrics. They're pretty deep.....
Anyway, while I love this song, it gives me chills, and not in a good way. It hits home with me in a way that I can't explain....I hear this song and feel so many emotions. Sadness, pity, fear, anger, and surprisingly enough, compassion. Compassion towards the angry teen I was many years ago.
You see, when I was only 15 years old, I was in a serious relationship with a serial killer. Of course I had absolutely no idea that he was dangerous. In fact, he treated me quite well and was extremely protective of me. He made me feel loved, wanted, and safe. This was intoxicating to me....I didn't get much love at home, and was surrounded by addiction. Life was hard. This man made me feel like I was worthwhile, and I quickly became wrapped around his finger.
This is like a story in the movies. When I met Paul Pisacane, I was sitting at the bus stop at a mall in Springfield, Virginia. I spent most of my time hanging out there, a mall rat if you will, because anything was better than being at home. Paul was with his friend Rob, and they boarded the same bus as me. I immediately felt fear when I saw Paul....He had a shaved head, icy, penetrating eyes, and combat boots. They were speaking in Irish accents which were pretty convincing, but totally phony.
Anyway, Rob started hitting on me on the bus. He was kind of cute, so I agreed to get off at their stop and hang out with them. They were a little older than me, and had their own place. When we got there, Paul was very quiet and went to his room. Rob and I were just hanging out, and he started trying to touch me...I wasn't comfortable with it, and told him to stop. Paul obviously heard me, and came into the room....He gave Rob a look and said "Get off of her. She's mine now." Rob quickly stopped and went as far as leaving the house. You see, Paul was clearly the leader, and was pretty intimidating. So when he "claimed" me, I didn't argue. In fact, it made me feel special in a weird way. He had this kind of magnetism to him....I don't really know how to explain it, even to this day.
Paul and I began spending a lot of time together. After awhile, the tough guy exterior softened, and he opened up to me about his life. He was born to a drug addicted mother in Connecticut, and spent most of his life in and out of the system. He went through a lot of traumatic things, and was hardened because of it. So while most people saw the intimidating Paul, I was able to see the good underneath. I thought I could help him to be a better person, and for awhile, it seemed to work. He stopped doing drugs, got a job, and was happier. There was a gentle side to him that apparently was only shown to me. Again, that made me feel special.
It turns out, Paul had some legal issues I didn't know about...Before he met me, he committed fraud and was about to go to jail. I had been fighting a lot with my parents, so when he suggested we run away together, I didn't think twice. Now I still had absolutely no idea he was in trouble. He didn't tell me. He wanted to go to Connecticut, where he had family and friends. Before we left, he made fake birth certificates and social security cards. I was no longer Brandy....I was Amber. I should have ran the other direction right then and there, but I didn't. He had me hooked. I truly believed he was the only person in the world who loved or understood me. I couldn't bear the thought of not being with him. (Boy, was I stupid!)
So we hopped on a Greyhound bus and were on our way. We stopped in NYC, and then took another bus to Connecticut. When we arrived in the tiny little town of Beacon Falls, I started getting scared. For the first several nights, we slept in the woods. Finally, he found out where some family friends lived, and they let us stay with them. I don't know for sure, but I think Paul was stealing from them....I never saw him do it, but he would come up with money....I never questioned it. One thing I learned is that it was best not to question him. He told me I had to trust him or nothing would work.
They ended up throwing us out, but their neighbor took us in. They were actually very nice people, and I felt so bad for lying to them about my age and true identity. But to stay "safe", it was something I was told I had to do. Paul ended up supposedly getting a job...Looking back, I think that was a lie he told me. I am pretty sure he was out committing crimes while he was supposed to be working. I also think he started doing drugs again. He became volatile to a degree, and even more possessive. He would say things to me like "You're never getting rid of me." and "You belong to me." Still, being a stupid kid, I took this as a sign of love, and was not scared of him. I still desperately wanted to believe he was a nice guy and that he loved me.
I don't know how it happened, but somehow after about a month, my parents found out where I was. We were told that the cops were going to show up....I then had to spill the beans about who I was. Paul took off. He didn't want to be apprehended. He told me that he would be back, and that if they ended up taking me away, he would come after me.
Of course the police DID come, with my parents in tow. I was forced to go home. I was absolutely devastated. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't want to go back to the hell that was my home life.
Paul remained in Connecticut, and ended up in jail there. He ended up being extradited to Virginia, and he contacted me. By this time, I had moved on. But still, I was drawn to him and went to see him in jail. I'm actually surprised they allowed me visitation, since I was under 18. There was a pane of glass between us, and I had to talk to him via phone. I told myself going in that I would break things off with him once and for all. And that's exactly what I ultimately ended up doing.
Seeing him again after the "spell" had been broken was odd. He no longer had such pull on me. I still cared about him, but I knew I couldn't be with him. I knew he was dangerous. But I still believed he loved me, and in a way, I felt like I was somehow responsible for his incarceration....I felt like I had failed him because I was sent back to Virginia and couldn't help him....
It makes absolutely no sense to me now, but back then I blamed myself for the bad choices that he made.
I ended up confronting him about all of the lies and demanded the truth. Well, he gave it to me, and I was absolutely horrified. It turns out, he was still committing a lot of crimes, both violent and non-violent, and he kept it hidden from me to "protect" me. He tried to justify the things he did, but thankfully, I didn't buy it.
Awhile later, I married my first husband, who was very abusive. I worked at the mall, and ended up seeing Paul one day after he had gotten out of jail. I tried to be friendly. I felt sorry for him, in a way. I tried to be his friend. But his erratic behavior got to be too much. He was trying to get me to leave and be with him, and I just couldn't do it. I broke off all contact. He still said the chilling words "You're never getting rid of me." But rather than being comforting, it was now frightening.
He actually tried to find me...He is quite manipulative. He had a friend who I had never met before call my mother asking for my information. He told her that I had slept with him, and that he was HIV positive and needed to contact me so I could get tested. (Total bullshit, by the way...I didn't know this guy.) Thankfully, my mother didn't give my info out. She DID call me pretty upset. Eventually, we found out it was Paul all along trying to track me down.
Time went on, and I became a mother. When my oldest son was a newborn, I got a call from my mother telling me to go buy a newspaper. I had just had a c-section and didn't have a car, so of course, I didn't want to. She urged me to and said there was something I needed to see on page A5 of The Washington Post. So I bundled Kyle up, grabbed the stroller, and headed to 7-11.
When I got home, I opened the paper....And then I saw it. I started crying and shaking, and was inconsolable. Paul Robert Pisacane had been convicted of killing 2 men with his bare hands, with a 15 year old boy as his accomplice. He broke into their homes, beat and strangled them to death. I couldn't believe it. But there it was in black and white, and he plead guilty to the charges. He was going to be charged with more murders in Connecticut, but came to some sort of a plea deal to avoid extradition and the death penalty. How many he killed, no one is sure of....But they do think he was killing while I was there with him. Terrifying, isn't it?
Once the shock wore off, I felt a sense of gratitude. I had gotten away alive. Would he ever have hurt me? I don't know....I want to believe he wouldn't have, but I am not naiive. Paul was obviously not the person he convinced me he was. Everything I thought I knew was a lie. He roped me in, took advantage of my vulnerabilities, and basically hypnotized me in a way. He really did put me under his spell....
So that's why the song Magic Man strikes a nerve with me. I can totally relate to the lyrics in a way I wish I couldn't.....Check them out:
Cold late night so long ago
When I was not so strong you know
A pretty man came to me
Never seen eyes so blue
I could not run away
It seemed we'd seen each other in a dream
It seemed like he knew me
He looked right through me
"Come on home, girl" he said with a smile
"You don't have to love me yet
Let's get high awhile
But try to understand
Try to understand
Try try try to understand
I'm a magic man."
Winter nights we sang in tune
Played inside the months of moon
Never think of never
Let this spell last forever
Summer over passed to fall
Tried to realized it all
Mama says she's a worried
Growing up in a hurry
"Come on home, girl" mama cried on the phone
"Too soon to lose my baby yet my girl should be at home!"
"But try to understand, try to understand
Try try try to understand
He's a magic man, mama
He's a magic man"
"Come on home, girl" he said with a smile
"I cast my spell of love on you a woman from a child!
But try to understand, try to understand
I'm a magic man!"
Paul Robert Pisacane is currently serving 2 consecutive life sentences at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, VA. He is right where he belongs. I am so incredibly grateful to be alive and that he never hurt me. The man could have killed me, and that knowledge is absolutely sobering. I had someone looking out for me, that's for sure.
So I know everyone loves some awesome reviews and giveaways, but I would like to start sharing more of who I am. I have decided to add a "Dear Diary" page to the blog, and here I will get personal. Very, very personal. Whether it's rants, introspective thoughts, or just talking about my day, here is where you'll find the nitty-gritty.
Maybe no one will even read these entries....And that's okay. It's more for ME, actually. I find writing to be therapeutic, and a great way to clear the mind and the spirit. I hope you'll take the time to get to know me here, and even start some conversations.
First "real" post coming soon!