I'm new to this forum but not at all new to social anxiety. If I give you a brief intro to me then the conundrum I'm in at the moment might make a bit more sense.
After having suffered with quite severe social anxiety for a number of years I finally managed to pluck up the courage to go to a cognitive behaviour therapist a little over a year ago. So incredibly glad I did, I'm almost completely fine now. My main issues were with having conversations with people, I'd replay conversations over and over again for days afterwards. It was affecting my work and my friendships. I didn't have a partner at the time.
Shortly after finishing successful therapy I met the most amazing guy and we've been together since then.
Recently, however, I've come up to a problem which is manifesting itself very much like social anxiety used to for me. I've tried all of the tricks and self therapy that I was taught and it just isn't shifting from my brain, and has been a constant replay for over a month now.
My boyfriend and I work at the same university, I'd gone over to do a bit of work in his part of the uni one afternoon. I arrived and there was a new person in the office that I hadn't met before. I'm great with these types of scenarios now, completely relaxed, so I was my usual friendly self and introduced myself. The response I got was very hostile, one word answers to any questions I dared to ask her - simple curiosity about why she was working there and what project she was doing, how long she'd be here, that kind of thing, nothing out of the ordinary. It was quite unpleasant. My boyfriend was about to go to tesco to pick up his lunch and as I wasn't needed for a little while I went with him. As we were leaving this new person asked if he could pick her up something "like a sausage roll". When we got to tesco it occurred to me that it was a little odd, so I asked him "How come you've got lumbered with getting lunch for the randomer?" And he mumbled some reply that I didn't really hear at the time, but the topic of conversation changed and I didn't think anything more of it. It came to choosing the food and he was really indecisive, which is most unlike him. I asked him "Why are you worrying? She wanted a sausage roll, just get her that!" Confusion growing...
We get back to the office and he gives her the sausage roll and barely a thank you, and no money exchanged. How odd is that for someone you don't know very well? I'm thinking: "Jesus, she's a piece of work".
Then it came to doing the thing that I needed to do, the reason I was over there in the first place. It can be slightly dangerous and anyone in the room needs to know what to do in the worst case scenario, so I asked her if she knew about what we were doing? "Do you know the safety procedures?" She squinted her eyes at me like I was ap piece of dirt and laughed directly at me. This completely shocked me, I started to get a bit panicky then. Regardless, safety first! (As much as I would have quite enjoyed watching her suffocate to death if it had all gone wrong.
) So I explained what to do, all while she was looking at me like I was something nasty stuck to the bottom of my shoe. The stuff of my nightmares, the thing that I used to imagine in my head was happening all those years ago before the therapy. Quite, quite horrible. To make matters worse I didn't know what I was doing, so I was being trained on something in front of her, making me look even more like the idiot that she thought I was.
I was temporarily finished in that room with her and the rest of the group and I returned to the office where my boyfriend was. He was reading some papers and looking thoughtful so I was curious and asked him what it was that he was researching "blah blah blah about the research... blah blah blah... J's boss... blah blah blah". Is stopped listening at this point, I could feel a panic attack coming as I put two and two together. I've heard A LOT about J. My bf brings her up in conversation a lot- J did this, J did that, J, J, J. I was recently at a conference with my bf and it was the same there, everybody knew who she was and how wonderful and clever a person she is. Now I know that she's also VERY attractive. The key point that I'm missing out is that this woman is my bf's ex girlfriend. The one just before me. She left him because she moved temporarily to the US for work.
I was about to have a full blown panic attack, I made my excuses very quickly and left to the nearest toilet where I could cry for about an hour. And then began the long long process of replaying every moment of that afternoon over and over again for over a month. Yesterday I went to tesco with my bf and I got that kick in the future feeling again as we walked through the door.
I've talked it through with my bf a few times since, which was incredibly hard for me to do. He's assured me that there's nothing going on, etc, etc and I completely believe him. I still don't know why he didn't introduce me, he's introduced me to other people in the past, he's not a shy person like that, but I'm still replaying the events in my head, it's a kick in the gut every time I remember and I'm crying on a fairly regular basis about it. I can't get it out of my head, it's just like the old SA stuff but this time I can't rationalise it to remove the worry. Which is why I'm writing this post, I need some outside help.
I think that maybe it's because I can't rationalise it because it is my worst fears, they did actually happen? Or maybe it's because I'm worried it'll happen again, she is likely to come back at some point to carry on the work and I have nightmares about arriving at the office and her being there again.
I know she's visiting again next week and as soon as I heard I started to get nervous flushes and my heart was racing. Now I'm just worrying and playing over scenarios in my head in case I meet her again by accident. It's so disappointing having got so far with my recovery.
I'm at a loss, I have no idea how to process this and my bf knows I'm still worrying about it, I don't want this person to come between us, but if she's been brought up this much to me already I've possibly got a lifetime of her being around and talked about to come.
Anyone have any ideas? Sorry for the essay...