I knew I was doing this. I saw it happening before I even realized I was depressed. It seemed like a reasonable response to the stress in my life. As I began to feel overwhelmed by my family’s needs my circle of concern quickly shrank. I stopped trying to get involved at our new church. I stopped calling friends to check in. I avoided situations where I’d meet new people.
One day I was in the downstairs playroom with my kids and realized I was purposely hiding from the world. I dreaded leaving the house. I felt like I couldn’t handle questions or attention from other people. I think I was struggling for some control over a situation that had spun quickly, wildly out of my grasp.
Though I am much better now I still have to coach myself into social situations and often feel spent afterwards. The phone is most difficult for me. I’d rather be face-to-face or communicate in writing than talk on the phone. I imagine it has to do with the difficulty of deciphering interpersonal cues on the phone without the benefit of body language and context.
A few weeks ago I had plans to meet a friend out for the evening and had to call at the last minute to cancel. I don’t remember what preceded it, but I was terrified about leaving the house and navigating a lively evening out. I called her in tears. It was embarrassing to admit I couldn’t leave my house. I spent the rest of the evening on the couch under a heavy blanket.
I have come to believe that the way sr pastor treated my husband was abusive. We often described it as working with a terrorist -- there was no pattern or predictability to his “attacks” except that there was always another one coming sometime.
Being abused disrupts a person’s sense that the world is basically safe. I became persistently, sometimes intensely, fearful of being with other people. I came to expect to be rejected.
Personal rejection seemed ok back when I thought most people liked me, but the constant flow of judgment, disapproval, anger, and punishment from sr. pastor to Husband (and by extension, me, as much of this related to our family) made me to feel that rejection was normal and acceptance rare.