Selective Mutism


I remember when I was in school, I was always the quiet one. Always quiet expect with those my age. I wouldn't even speak to a teacher unless I was comfortable enough with an answer. But never ask. I only answered and write. I didn't really knew I had to ask until I was much older. I learned everything by listening or reading. I would talk with a few friends, but to adults, I was mute, simply mute. I never spoke to adults, I barely spoke to my own grandmother. I always found it hard to pronounce a single word. As I grew up, I became more talkative in high school thanks to two girls who became great friends. They actually came to my own house, to meet me, they weren't in my same school. They knew about me through my brother who was friend with both of their brothers. I remember still standing on front of them in outside in silence. Plenty of words and questions in my mind, none would come out. I was anxious, I was muted. They smiled shyly and said Hi, then said "well, see you", with barely any words in between. We would laugh years later about that awkward moment. I felt I had a problem then. But I didn't do anything about it. They tried again, and again, I opened up, and eventually they would say I wouldn't shut up. Having them was a big step for me, before them I had no friends.
Thanks to them I managed to be more open and talk with those my age. I was more open in class and less shy. Except with boys. I was still shy with boys. After graduating I entered University. I forced myself to open up. I eventually made friends. I would talk normally with my professors. I would raise my hand and ask questions even if later I would find them stupid. But only with my professors, and only with two of them. My fear of saying something stupid in class came due to some jokes about some silly things I said and one insult from a gym teacher. Even though I was being more open with those I would see often, those I didn't, I would still feel the familiar knot on my throat.
Eventually I found myself forced to acknowledged this problem, both with older people than me and young kids. During my first times in the Netherlands this was something no one really understood how hard it was for me. I couldn't really explain them why it was so hard, because for them, a country that really foment social interaction, my anxiety was just weird and childish. I cried many times feeling ashamed and bad about losing an opportunity to talk to someone. I would cry whenever I was asked to make an effort... as I was making an effort, but it took time and a lot of courage. And even after leaving, I still had to deal with my problem, and I went back and deal with it more. Eventually I found myself talking freely to strangers older than me. I felt proud and would text right away my boyfriend whenever I would engaged in a casual "how are you" conversation with a stranger. I felt proud also the first time I did it myself as an initiative. I still deal with it as I don't really manage to do so without a reason. But I am slowly getting there. My boyfriend always encourage me to talk to strangers more often, and for this I am very grateful. I still regret the good relationships I could have made if only I would initiate a conversation more. I remember the first time I said "I'm fine and how are you," I struggled for what seemed an eternity to get it out of my throat. I was forcing myself to it, thinking on how proud he would be. 
I now call on the phone without thinking about it for hours or feeling anxious about even dialing. I now can communicate more effectively with those around me, expressing my needs and asking questions no matter how silly they might be. But I am still dealing with my problem, as I still can't seem to come up with all the proper questions to a conversation in order to show the interest I DO have towards people. I am very curious by nature, I would ask thousands of questions if I could, but one step at a time. Also, I am still dealing to be able to talk to kids. I still can't get myself to it, but I try and I manage some words, and I force myself to ask questions like "how was school", something I learned to do with the help of my host mom when I was in Amsterdam. I still remember our argument and she asking me why I never ask such simple things to the kids. I couldn't answer, I had no answer, I just couldn't, I would be out of breath trying. I still struggle. But I know this is my problem, I know I need to fix it and I am trying, rewarding myself every time I accomplish something.
Today I went to the lawyer's office, to get an official statement to apply for my visa in NL. I am not sure if it was cause he was young, or he was talkative, or because he has been to Amsterdam before, but I managed to talk normally, like my mom would do whenever she needed to see an office. And I still notice when I am able to do this, and I still reward myself for it. I just hope, one day it will come out naturally, without me even trying. I hope that when I am back in NL, I am able to engage in conversations without fearing what I say or what I ask.
Did I had selective mutism? Probably, or at least partly. As I have been struggling for it and lost many opportunities to it. But I am confident that I am working my way to a more open social communicative self. I will still be introvert, as I love the way I am. I will always put books before bars and pubs. I will always put pictures in a sunny day at the park to watching the latest movie in the theater. I will always put the snowy cold beach with my thoughts before a long warm nap or some gathering. But hopefully, I will also put the interest in other people (which I do have) before my anxiety to saying something wrong.


she writes