Anxiety at leather events

So I have to be up front and say I have never attended any sort of leather event (IML, MAL, Dore Alley, Fetish Week, etc.).  To be perfectly honest, the main reason is at the instance of my husband (although I also agree) that there seems to be no guarantee of privacy.  I constantly see pictures from the event floor, and my career/work/personal life is such that I really can’t afford to be seen, even in the background as a spectator.  That’s why I enjoy my blog here, I have full control over what I want posted.

It is a bit of a shame, because I do think generally, the events look fun, and it would be very cool to actually meet many of the people I’ve talked to or at least seen on other blogs/tumblrs/twitters over the years. 

But I suppose I would also have some social anxiety.  Being a relatively private person in the kink regard, I feel like I’d find it overwhelming.  It does seem a bit clique-y, although that said, I’m sure many groups would be welcoming.  Yet it also sort of feeling like being a new kid in high school all over again.  Not a confidence boosting situation that I want to get into again.

One of my fellow bloggers that I admire, Leather. Bondage. Love., finally decided to attend MAL this year.  His initial reaction was not a positive one, and with his permission (we’ve talked before, and I reached out to him about this), I’m posting his words down below.

I’m currently at MAL, and I’m extremely anxious, alone, and lost.

I don’t really know what to do right now.

I’m having the worst time at MAL, and I just really wish things were at my pace, and that I fit in better.

I want to say so, so much more, but it wouldn’t be right, and it would be out of poorly channeled and improperly handled emotions right now.

I had a bad anxiety attack yesterday, in relation to a traumatic event that occurred a few years back. I’ve been very, very unsettled since then. And I’ve been trying very, very hard to move past it and enjoy this weekend, but I’m finding that I can’t. I need help, and it’s nowhere to be found. Logically, I should not be turning this inward on myself, because it is not my fault, but I am, and as a result, I am now my own worst enemy.

I came here solo, more or less, and I’m finding myself very alone, very scared, and very lost. A lot of people who wanted to meet and play with me, have pretty much up and vanished now that I’m here. I’m finding that people are very much off in their own cliques, and people are very easy to abandon ship for play and private parties in peoples rooms.

In relation to my anxiety attack and what triggered it, I cannot just walk into those spaces without knowing the people first. I would be thrilled – so over the fucking moon, if people offered to come to the lobby, chat a bit, and then invite me up to their rooms for drinks and whatnot, so that I could get comfortable with them first. However, I understand that is a lot of extra time and effort and energy, and I can’t ask that of folks. It is a bit of a burden on them.

It’s hard watching all these other people talk about all the fun and play they are having, when I am getting none. I’ve got thousands of dollars of gear with me, and it’s gotten no use. I have nobody lining up to play, I have nobody taking me up on offers or making serious offers. I’ve had some people suggest play, but when I’ve asked or prodded on solidifying something, the conversations all go cold.

It’s making me, again, turn inward on myself. Am I doing something wrong? Did I say something wrong? Whats going on that made them loose interest? I have been told that I’m attractive, and that I have amazing gear, and that I sound like I would be a wonderful play partner. And then….nothing comes of it. It all goes nowhere. It’s completely breaking me down inside and leaving me distraught and confused.

So now, I’m unsettled because this is a new place and I am very, very anxious and scared and alone. Then, on top of that, I am completely down in the dumps because all of my play leads have just gone nowhere.

All of is it culminating and coming together to form a Robert that is very very frightened, scared, alone and depressed, and those emotions are things that people are seeing in me, so they are avoiding me (I cannot blame them, for I have done the same to others before as well), creating this self-saboteur situation where I am poisoning my own chances at fun and happiness at this event, which is more than halfway over.

I just want help. I want fun. I want someone to hold me right now tightly, physically, literally, and just make it better. I want to play. I want to use my gear. I want to be smiling and laughing and enjoying myself. 

I don’t want my memories of MAL to be miserable, and alone, and so depressing and filled with self loathing and poisoning of relationships with people I’ve known for years but still have yet to meet in person. 

But that is what’s going on right now, and I just wish someone would come along and change it. 

I’m so embarrassed and mad at myself right now that I’m like this. I’m so, so, so embarrassed. 

This just made my heart ache.  Not only for him, but also because many of the feelings he described resonated with myself.  I can very much imagine having very similar thoughts.

Fortunately, after he made a decision to get drunk, he posted his more positive update:

After two drunk as fuck nights in a row and a lot of anxiety and worry, I’m finally back to a calm state.

I gave it a lot of thinking and what I realized was that I was letting the behavior of other people dictate how I should feel.

It’s very easy to get jealous and feel left out, but being shitfaced and sitting at the bar led me to chatting with a couple of people around the event, and I sort of realized that there are many other people who feel as I do.

They could have no play, or they could be on their fifth fuck of the day. They could be attractive, or they could be very not attractive – it doesn’t matter; the second a hot thing walks by in the room all scantily dressed and tied up, it’s a wave of instantaneous envy.

It’s so easy to see that and have the “Grass is always greener” syndrome kick in, and wish that you were getting all that attention, and wish that you were that social and knew people who you could do that with.

And it eats at you and makes you feel a little left out that you’re not in that walking parade of sexuality. Even if you’re not into it. ((That was me at some points. I was jealous of the idea and the concept of hot naked Twink all tied up and walking around, but I literally want no part of that execution.))

And then you see all of these people just chatting and being friendly with each other, and it makes you feel like you only left out because you’re not part of their group. Some of these people I don’t even want to be in a group with, I would never talk to them ever. But just because I’m at this event, and they are conversing, I suddenly care. That’s so stupid. And dumb.

I feel like I need to apologize because I have been a whiny shit and a complete mess. I and anxiety attack completely erode the foundation of my psyche, and as a result I allowed so much jealousy and pettiness fill the void.

I woke up this morning finally back to an even state after talking to a few folks, some in person, and some who reached out to me on Tumblr after seeing my last post, and I was able to get my head screwed on right and bleed out a lot of the garbage.

I had some play this morning as a result of not being a distressed cunt. And I just finished up a bit of fun with other folks I owed some play to. So I’m feeling better. My misery is now cautious optimism.

I was certainly happy to hear that things started to look up for him.  And he had one final update (at least, at the time of this writing):

My cautious optimism turned into a meeting with some very famous kinksters and their associates.

What an ending to a weekend that started shitty for me.

Now I’m sad I’m ending it on this note, rather than starting off on it.

People. People make and break this for you.

I’ll give the full write up later on once I’ve digested.

Glad to see this story had a happy ending.  It does give me hope should I ever attend one day.  If I did, I would certainly reach out beforehand to kinksters I’ve talked with before to set up a short meet if possible, even if it were just to talk.  Of course, one additional problem that I have is that I don’t drink, so I feel that could also be a pretty big factor in me being social.  It seems that drinking is a pretty big part of the scene, and I’m not quite sure where a sober guy fits into all that.  So I’d still have something to worry about…

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