The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) sits between The Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea and South Korea, like a large wedge of irony. Mainly because both countries have been heavily militarising the demilitarised zone for decades. So much so that there are manned positions on both sides, equipped with; machine guns, anti-aircraft weaponry, tanks, secret tunnels, snipers and endless land mines. Although it remains stunningly beautiful.
The humble social engagement for the life of an anxiety sufferer is a daunting one. Yes, with enough practice you can avoid them, rather like Jim Carrey would avoid bullets if he was wearing a green mask. Inevitably however, you will get hit. Sometimes, if you are lucky, the bullet hits you before you’ve even noticed it. Then it is only with hindsight that anxiety can try to retrospectively join in the party. Other times though, the events are planned in advance.
A planned engagement gives anxiety time to prepare. Relaying the future event over, and over, and over again. Trying to plot the most effective way to ruin your evening.
Today was a social engagement of the advanced planning variety. My girlfriend’s best friends are visiting us in Vienna for a few days, and until today, I’d never met them. The standard plot line for a social engagement with new people runs something like; ‘I’m worried they won’t like me, what if they think this or what if they think that’. Standard. The game changes however when it is not only meeting the best friends, but the best life-long friends, who I have never met. It changes because they know everything.
And in they walked holding a big bag of triggers.
Maybe it comes in the form of a vague reference to an old party, an anecdote about an ex, a secret ‘in’ joke, or even an old photo. They not only have all the triggers, but they don’t know they have all the triggers. Of course there is no intention of causing me any harm, but landmines have no will either.
Tonight though – you should have seen me* – there I was, wistfully waltzing around the woods of the DMZ. Surrounded by its lush and picturesque landscape, beautifully avoiding the potential horrors that lay below. Not a single hit. I basically got the highest score on real life minesweeper.
I stayed mentally strong and thoroughly enjoyed the company and the evening. There were times when I was tempted by the secret underground tunnels and headed straight for the exit, but I would have missed the beauty, the dancing and the fun. The easy way is not always the best (or most beautiful) way.