My Life of Social Awkwardness and Anxiety
Many of you won’t believe this but I’ve spent my entire life battling social anxiety and being socially awkward. Yes it’s true I attend a lot of celebrity events and I tend to be the life of the party everywhere I go but what you don’t see is the work I have to do to feel comfortable in social settings.
It is so weird for me to even put this down on paper because most people who see me or meet me think I’m a pretty friendly outgoing and charismatic guy.
All of that’s true but until recently I had to medicate myself heavily with drugs, alcohol or both to be able to function socially. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.
I am not completely sure what caused it.
I’m sure that losing my sisters when I was 7 had a lot to do with my struggles. My sisters didn’t die they just up and left and I never knew why for many many years. I blamed myself and told myself they left because I wasn’t good enough for them. It probably didn’t help that I looked up to them and respect them so much and they were like my comfort blanket and security in my child’s brain.
After they left that is when all hell broke loose in my life. That is when I remember my father being abusive towards my mom, my brother, and I. That is also around the time I started being molested by two older “friends”. The aftermath of that created a lot of confusion and as I see her and think about it now probably contributed to the awkwardness I felt inside.
Remember being at football practice shortly after the molestation started and being called a faggot and of course I didn’t really understand what it meant at the time. When I did figure out what it meant it, of course, created a lot of confusion because I didn’t understand what happened to me it was my fault or what.
I talked to my counselor about it one time and she told me it was normal for little boys to do that. So I internalized the experience and tried to move on the best I could. The awkwardness got much worse in the social anxieties became much more of an issue.
I was awkward and anxious even around family. Being around kids my own age was even scarier.
Have you ever been to a party where everyone is in a group talking and are not talking to you but you’re just standing on the outside looking in hoping that someone I’ll talk to you sees you can be included? And you’re just sitting there looking up at the sky trying to figure something to say to include yourself in the conversation and when you finally get the courage to say something, you say something dumb or it goes over about as well as Donald Trump a liberal convention?
When I played sports I seemed to be fine and I’m not sure if it was that everyone was scared of me because I was bigger and meaner than all of them or what the deal was. But I could be around those exact same people at a birthday party that I’m sure their parents force them to invite me to, and I was completely out of place.
I remember my friend Garret’s birthday party in seventh grade where are all the cool kids were invited. The funny thing is I don’t even know if I was really invited, I think I just heard about it and showed up because I wanted to have friends so bad. I remember people dancing on the pool table having a good time, listening to Boys 2 Men and Bel Biv Devo. I’m sure people were making out the corner like normal 7th graders and there I was hiding in the other room or hanging out with his awesome mom.
The only people I felt normal around we’re parents or other adults but that has more to do with being dropped off at the golf course and playing a round of golf with adults most of the time. I felt completely normal not setting but completely out of place when I was around people my own age.
In seventh grade, I have such horrible acne and got made fun of all the time somehow I had a girlfriend that seem to like me but that didn’t help my insecurities any. All the sports were my refuge, but I had no chance socially.
My sophomore year in high school is when I discovered the power of alcohol at loosening up those fears. That said it didn’t make me any less awkward. I’ve never been comfortable around the groups of people but I was perfectly okay when I was just hanging out one-on-one with someone because I figured if they’re willing to be alone, with me they must like me.
Even for someone that’s always been bigger than most people I got teased a lot because I was weird and I saw that world much differently than everyone else. I never was quite comfortable in my own skin but alcohol, then later being introduced to ecstasy and cocaine seemed to give me superpowers, where I can hang out and talk to anybody. This, as you know, is a terrible habit to start.
I got kicked out of high school my senior year for getting into a fight and accidentally heading to teacher thus ruining any chance of a football scholarship. I did get to go play college football at a small University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma but being away from home and my comfort zone only made my social awkwardness and anxieties worse, so drinking a whole lot more became the norm.
Being away from home allows for that kind of thing but I went home after a semester and became a college cheerleader. Do not laugh, I am still bigger than you 🙂 You would think a cheerleader couldn’t be awkward because you know they’re supposed to be charismatic fun and free-spirited with those spirit fingers and all.
I’m not condoning drug use but I will say that ecstasy free my mind in ways that I’ve not experienced before. If you’ve ever done ecstasy you know that it gives you the false belief that everyone’s your best friend and everyone loves you and in fact, they think the same thing. I was still weird but it seemed to be okay in some circles because they were high too.
Some people say alcohol the gateway drug but I’m pretty sure it’s ecstasy. When the feeling that ecstasy gives you goes away you will pretty much do anything to get that feeling back. Including the white devil, cocaine.
Again not glorifying drug use but cocaine gave me the self-confidence to be able to do anything. My obsessive personality and my desperate need to feel normal and to feel good cost cocaine to literally take over my life for almost 15 years.
Cocaine and sex addiction caused me to destroy two marriages and lose my children. It also ended up causing me to lose everything else in my life that mattered and of course all of my money and material possessions.
I don’t know what the solution is for my anxieties and awkwardness because they quit caring about that as much when I was high or seeking to get high. It became my entire focus, therefore, I did not have time to be awkward in my own head.
Cocaine destroyed my health to the point that I should’ve died. By the grace of God and a five-day jail sentence, I finally hit bottom to a point that my social anxieties seemed like a mute point.
After turning my life around and giving my life to Christ I lost the desire to rely on substances to get me through these anxieties and feeling awkward. I still feel I am weird and I don’t always feel like I belong however my only concern is what the Lord thinks of me and that I’m doing His will.
I deal with my anxieties now by simply praying and asking the Holy Spirit to give me strength and the peace of knowing that I am enough and being awkward in a world craziness is just fine.
Originally published at livemanaworldwide.com on June 16, 2017.