It's over. The party is over. The guests have all gone home. Our house is nearly clean. It's so wonderful. It was worth it, though. Julia had a GREAT time.
Pictures are up at The Speckled Frog if you want to see them.
You know, it's strange. A couple of years ago, throwing large parties didn't phase me. We threw as many as we could and I always had a great time. I was able to mingle easily, enjoy myself. But the last couple of years I have gotten increasingly unable to deal with large parties. I find myself getting more and more anxious as the party gets closer to starting, I usually have a great deal of anxiety all during the party, and that anxiety will inevitably peak into some sort of full-blown anxiety attack sometime during the event. Sometimes it will get so bad that I'll have to go to one of the non-public rooms and sit in the dark until I can get calm enough to join the party. This party proved to be no exception -- except I wasn't able to go anywhere to calm down.
I know what part of the problem is -- I'll see people and I'll start worrying that they're not having a good time, that they want to leave but think it would be rude, that I'm not paying enough attention to them to make them feel welcome and appreciated. Ridiculous, I know. But still. At Julia's party there was a great deal of that going on, but also just sheer overwhelm at all the presents she received. We had told people that their presence was enough of a gift, but gifts they brought all the same. Many people brought more than one gift, too. The pile was HUGE! And everyone wanted to see their gift being opened, so I got started opening presents.
It was during the gift opening that I had my full blown anxiety attack. Heart pounding, hands shaking, wanting to cry. Our friend Amanda picked up a bag and started helping me keep the mess clean as I was going, whispering encouraging words the whole time. I kept smiling. I felt so greedy. Like we'd invited so many people just so we could get a haul of presents. It felt like such conspicuous consumption. I know all these people LOVE Julia, and they all wanted to get her things. I think my biggest problem is that I felt like I couldn't thank the people sincerely enough for their gifts. I mean, Julia wasn't even paying attention to most of them (of course she wasn't, she's only one and a lot of the presents were clothes) and I felt like I needed to keep opening presents so that people could leave if they wanted. I guess I just wish that I could have taken each family or guest aside and opened their present with them right there so that I could thank them in a more intimate setting, and we could talk about the gift... Oh well. About half way through the present opening my attack started feeling debilitating and I just looked helplessly over at N and Amanda and whispered to them that I couldn't do it anymore, and they just whispered back that it was ok, no one thought we were ungrateful, and that I was doing fine. That's when I asked Kristin to stop taking pictures and come over and help me. I don't know how many of our guests could tell how much distress I was in -- a lot of people were carrying on conversations while this was going on. I plan on calling them all to say thank you again and I might mention it to some of them...
Everytime I think I'm getting my anxiety under control I slip up again.