Last night was my first Christmas party in my new department. Once I’d gotten over the dilemma of what to wear, I was actually looking forward to it – a rare opportunity to get dressed up, an even rarer opportunity for a night out in a nice hotel, and a chance to get to know my colleagues better.

But. Yesterday afternoon my mood went from positive and cheery to paranoid and low, in the space of about half an hour. And it stayed that way. I still wanted to go – I had bought new shoes that needed wearing!! – so I came home, got myself all dolled up and drove in. Parked the car, turned off the engine……………….nothing. Couldn’t do it. I had spent the entire journey in trying to persuade myself that I would be fine. I would go in, plaster a smile on my face till it became a real one and enjoy myself.

You get the analogy, right?

Anyway, that’s not what happened. Instead, I sat in the car debating with myself for a good fifteen minutes, watching various people arrive and getting progressively more upset. At that stage it was a foregone conclusion. The warpaint was streaking and I was in no fit state to talk to anyone. So, I left. I didn’t want to go home as I knew the kids would be up and didn’t want to have to work my way around that (as it turns out, a very wise move. D had had a complete meltdown and I think my arriving home in a heap shortly after telling them I’d be out for the night would have tipped him over the edge altogether). So I drove down to Salthill and looked at the sea for a while. Once I’d calmed down enough to be able to see the road clearly (always helpful), I turned the car round and came home. Via the chinese for an inordinate amount of comfort food.

I could drive myself cracked over this. I could analyse every thought I had, and berate myself for not being able to go out and just enjoy myself. I could get tied up in knots of paranoia about what people think. I’m going to try really, really hard not to do that. I made a decision based on the circumstances, and at the time, it was the right one. Far, far from ideal, but the right one nonetheless. Moving on. 

This article has 4 Comments

  1. What you write here rings home. So many times, to the point I have stopped trying. My mind set is if I don't want to do it then I don't….but not without its complaints. Why? What's wrong? Is it me? Something up? What is it? The many countless questions that accompany my saying no to an event. Inside I'm screaming. I verbally say YOU GO! To my partner but by then a whole lot of snot and tears has unfolded and guilt sets in. it isn't you I say!….isme. I just don't want to go. Being honest doesn't help. I think to myself I should have made an excuse it would go down better! But I was honest then landed myself with more guilt. I try to smooth things over, but still can't get myself to go to the event (birthdays, Xmas,leaving etc;) then my partner states I won't go then! In my head I'm screaming. . . please go! Walk out the door. I verbalise what is in my head but by this time 'anger is setting in' ….just go! GO and enjoy yourself! My partner leaves wiping away tears. Now I start my own negative conversation with me! In my head.

    1. I think the only reason I don't have to contend with exactly what you've just described is that we rarely ever go out as a couple, I actually can't remember the last time. Maybe a blessing in disguise at the moment as I'm clearly not well equipped to cope with social events.
      I hope things get easier soon, for both of us.

  2. I recognise this all too clearly as well. I drove past the office a few times, tears streaming down my face because I started my day wrong and I couldn't get myself to enter the building, facing my collegues, nor could I get myself to go home and stop punishing myself. I ended up driving around for an hour, visit a anonimous garden centres until I calmed down enough to go home and call my husband that I had failed. again.
    Even now I'm supposed to be recovered I have to choose my venues ooh so carefully, office parties are just not worth the trouble, they are too much energy from what I get back from it, so they're out. ( and nobody ever misses me as I try to have an excuse as honest as possible 🙁 ) Big birthday celebrations scare me to death, Christmas parties with lots of people, nope. Maybe a small dinner with a few friends, if close enough, that's it.
    I feel your pain and I'm so sorry you had to through this, and I'm sure you realise on the big scale of things the office party is not important. What is important though that you start to realise and experience you have limits you have to adhere to, you can't just push yourself into something you're not ready for. Realising that is one thing, accepting takes far more effort and will take a while.
    Please pleas please go gentle on yourself. Wear those shoes into town tomorrow while going to pick up a christmas dress for you little one as a treat, I'm sure she'll love how good they make you feel when you wear them. ( I always feel special wearing new shoes 🙂 )
    The holidays are a stressful time in itself so give yourself lots of space to back out and regroup, and if it feels wrong, it usually won't make it better if you push yourself, "if it feels wrong, just don't do it" is my motto these days.

    hope you have a relaxed weekend ahead. take care

    1. Thanks Annemiek. I think you're right, I have to recognise my limitations, but yes, accepting them is hard. Am going to try again this weekend – there's a get together on Friday night, but instead of heading down on my own, I'm going to meet friends first and go with them. They've already agreed to sit quietly somewhere with me in the event that I can't do it, and leave if we have to. I'm hoping having that safety net in the background will be enough and that I'll be able to stay. Who knows, maybe even enjoy myself!!
      Thank you, as always x

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