“She just continued to make me try and dance.”

Talking about feeling like a statue, I recently learned in working with my new therapist that I struggle with social anxiety. I originally thought this was because of my introversion, but she explained to me that introversion is more so about the fact of, like, where you recharge and you recharge alone, and social anxiety explains the stress that I feel in social situations, especially in large groups. And I was out at our teeny tiny little local bar with my partner two or three weeks ago and there was an older woman there. She’s probably like, I don’t know, pushing 60? I don’t know, 60, 65, and I know her casually, she lives down the – ooh, lives down the street, but, yeah, she was saying like some kind of inappropriate things all night, like subtly raunchy things, innuendos, and trying to get a reaction out of me. Which was weird. 

She had explained to us a few times throughout the night that whenever her husband agreed to go to the bar with her, he said they would not be dancing that night and I told her, you know, “You are grown independent woman. You don’t need your husband’s permission to dance if you want to dance. So go dance,” and later on in the night, we’re literally getting ready to leave. Like, I’ve got my jacket in my lap and I’m, like, mentally preparing for the transition to go home. She pulls my jacket out of my lap and then immediately grabs onto my wrists and pulls me out onto the dance floor, tries to get me to dance, and as somebody who’s introverted with social anxiety, I really don’t enjoy dancing outside of my own privacy. It really, really, really stresses me out and definitely kind of puts me into a fight or flight mode.

So initially, I tried to fight and get away, and she had such a grip on my wrist that I could not get away from her, like, and this is an old woman so, yeah, it was really stressful for me. I really didn’t appreciate it, and she had me out there for probably a solid, like, minute to two minutes, in front of all these people, you know, which just made it worse for me.  And I, like, wasn’t dancing at all. She was dancing while holding on to my wrist, and I was just standing there and trying so hard to keep my arms still and explaining to her, like, I looked her dead in the eye and said “This is making me uncomfortable and is really stressful for me. I don’t want to do this,” and she just continued to make me try and dance, and I finally got away from her and about had an anxiety attack, which is really unfortunate. It makes me feel silly, but like, also, she violated a boundary and I explicitly told her she was stressing me out and she didn’t care. She felt that her fun was more important than my, like, psychological safety and I recognize that she’s older, comes from a different time, but that’s still – honestly, that’s no excuse to touch someone without their permission and continue to touch them when they tell you to stop. 

So I definitely froze like a statue then.

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