I had a most embarrassing social anxiety attack on Saturday at a Passover seder. I was sitting among a whole bunch of younger college students I didn't know and the rabbi asked each of us to read from the haggadah and as soon as it was my turn, I was so nervous. I read shakily and I know people wondered what was up with me. The time came again for me to read and although I was a little bit more confident, I still was nervous and read shakily. I hate that I am a slave to anxiety and energy. I felt like a wreck, not to mention, I had a shooting pain in my right armpit that extended way down to my middle fingertip. I didn't know what was happening or why I felt that way, but I was glad to get outta there. I felt so embarrassed.
I tended to seek out people that were seen as different. I personally opted to blend.. go unseen. The less people noticed me the better. People have always tried to guide me and tell me what I need to do. People would at the same time like they could not figure me out.
As I had children I noticed people trying to tell me how my children need to be toughened up according to the standard normal. I have always had a place where kids can be who they are. The world is hard enough without those closest to you judging you and blaming themselves because you just aren't right.
You tend to shy away from large groups as I do. I frankly have different interests than most and see the world differently than many around me. I have to feel good about something and at the same time challenge my own boundaries to make positive change around me. Many think I can be bull headed and stuck up. If people knew me they would know that is far from truth.
You have been a good friend to me for quite some time and to be honest.. all of your past made you strong. It might not be fair.. but I am glad you are who you are. You work to be who you want instead of bending to the will of others. You are truly a blessing in my life!! Had you grown up feeling normal.. we may not have ever met. Thanks for being you Gin!!
The way I experience it, when we are ungrounded and unshielded in a group of people, we're like a leaf in the wind, it feels like having no control, like there are no ground beneath our feet. I have realized I get bombarded by other people's anxieties, emotions etc. It literally feels like there are no room for 'me' and that I am about to disappear. Just like you, I am a reasonably confident person when I am grounded - but when I am overwhelmed and/or feel like I have no control or don't know what am expected of me, when I don't know the rules, that's when I 'freeze', like I am trying to make myself invisible.
There's a way that we feel what others are feeling that might not even be about us - it's about them - but we feel it so intensely it's hard to remember they don't really mean anything. If we get a room full of that, it's hard not to be anxious. :P
Breathing and bubble-shielding works well for me. But it does take practice - sometimes I just am not aware, it's a bad habit I am trying to work through.