Fear, it is an evil and corroding thread. Fear and resentment are what used to rule my life. Now, they merely have great influence. This past week's fear was women. I have a great fear of opening myself up to women in any meaningful, romantic way. I also have a great desire to open myself up to a woman in a meaningful, romantic way. As you can imagine, that will cause some conflict within me.
It causes me to miss out on many opportunities. Or at least I think it does. Over the past week, I saw a possibility with a girl. This was not meant to be. I don't think this opportunity was missed because of my fear. In fact, I think I may be nearing the crest of this particular hill.
I am shy. But over the last couple of months, something has started to change within me. Part of it is a mere statistical phenomenon. I have broken through the magic number of people I know in the Seattle area to where the circle of people cannot help but grow. That happened to me in Moscow in 1992, although it waned by 1998 due to the transitory nature of the population there. I remember what it felt like to be a part of a group, to be a social animal. And it is a wondrous feeling, even for this committed eremite.
Part of the catalyst for this statistical transformation was my joining the Seattle.Gothic Message Boards. I have to blame that on Deirdre (evillinn), who my friend Jason decided to approach one evening at the Mercury. That sucked me into her circle, and from there into the message bored. And the circle just grew from there. Pretty much every un-reciprocated crush I have had has turn out to improve my life. (Well, except for Cathy Buckley. Perhaps more on that period of my life another time.)
But I think something more has happened as well. Over this period of time, my social phobia has ebbed. Perhaps it is the effect of pretending not to be socially phobic so much. Perhaps it is more like a moth emerging from a pupae, where it is just the natural emergence from one stage to the next. Two months ago, something as simple as trying to approach someone I barely knew at the club, but whom I wished to know better, in order to tell her I enjoyed her conversation and that I was leaving for the night, that was a difficult proposition. I could not do it. (Sorry about the awkward sentence there.)
I spent six months in therapy from October through March last year trying to deal with this inability to talk to people. At the moment, I am glad that I resisted dealing with this through medication.
But I realized today, that I have done several things easily that in the past I could not do. I approached Erika, said "hi," and sat at her table for a while. I introduced myself to her friend Kelly, and then later in the night approached her for conversation. I approached Elizabeth in the same manner. And Anna. At the Red Door, I made physical contact with Shirley while sitting in a booth. Just light touching in a flirting way. But for some reason, I had no fear. None. The entire night. No fear of talking to people. No fear of flirting or touching or getting rejected or anything.
And something else remarkable (to me at least) happened today. I proposed a social gathering (to see The Sum of All Fears), and people followed. And not reluctantly. In the past, I have had people over for dinner, or pie, or tried to organize other social occasions. And they invariably ended up with no one in attendance, or with a very strange vibe. No strange vibe for this.
So what is this all a product of? I don't know. Will it last? I sure as hell hope so. I am not a believer in victim-hood. That is a state of living where stuff happens to you. I want to be a participant in my own life. So what do I do to keep this going? I don't know for certain. However, I am willing to bet that God has given me the gift so that I can exercise it. That means that should continue to approach people, to ask women out, to flirt, to make friends, to instigate social gatherings, to touch, and to converse.
In spite of my hopefully soon to be vestigial fear. "At once, we being to outgrow fear."
So take this as a warning if you are reading this. You shall be approached, asked out, flirted with, touched, made friends with, invited to dinners and get-togethers, and conversed with (or talked to, if you can't shut me up). Be afraid. Be very afraid.