Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW
Summer is upon us and between working and parenting and engaging in some serious garden neglect, I have failed to maintain my blog posts: Bad, bad, blogger! Here are two little things to tide my readership over (all two of you!):
First, a reminder that I am starting a social skills group for adults with social anxiety on the first Saturdays of the month. To attend, you must schedule an intake with me so that I can keep participants consistent in terms of abilities and intentions. So far we have a highly intelligent and interesting core group which I am looking to add 3 more participants to.
Second, “Saying Goodbye:” a chapter in my upcoming book on social anxiety disorder. Cheers!
Years ago I attended a week long yoga and meditation retreat. Throughout the week we started and ended our days with silence and movement. We ate the finest organic vegetables and wandered through the wilderness surrounding the retreat center. Of course we also befriended one another in that way of people who are uplifted and in possession of vast swaths of free time. We bonded, big time.
Towards the end of the retreat, an interesting thing happened. People started strategizing about ways to leave early, convincing themselves that the rural California freeways would be full on a Sunday afternoon if they waited until the conclusion of the program.
It’s hard to say an honest goodbye because it hurts to feel loss and it’s uncomfortable to display emotion. And yet, saying goodbye is a universally significant way to honor and declare the importance of other people in our lives. Saying goodbye is a social ritual in which both the departing person and the remaining people are acknowledged.
No one should head off into the unknown without the security of feeling loved. Likewise, no one should lose a “tribe member” without the opportunity to say goodbye: if it upsets us to misplace our pencil, imagine how much more upsetting it is to lose a friend or an acquaintance.
Socially anxious people bolt out of meetings, work, church, and even social gatherings. The move away abruptly, unsure of how to say goodbye, afraid that if it is known they are leaving, either they will get trapped into an unwanted conversation (not the end of the world if it happens) or that no one will care (that’s the end of the world). Suicide happens for this same reason (the belief that one doesn’t matter to anyone else).
Rather than bolt, it is a healthy practice to linger and talk to the people around you so that you can connect with new ones and reinforce connection with old ones.