The summer after I was diagnosed with PTSD, it took the engagement party of one of my closest friends (and a heavy dose of guilt tripping) to get me out of my 'watch Netflix alone for days on end and maybe occasionally speak to a take-out delivery person but otherwise never speak to anyone or leave the house again' seclusion. I was struggling to trust both other people and my own judgment after multiple years of emotional abuse and sexual assault, and being around other people just seemed like a high-risk, low-reward situation.
While I was standing at the back of this engagement party, clinging to a glass of wine and staring in terror at the crowd of strangers and acquaintances in front of me, Mary approached me. She was the kind of person that made it her absolute mission to make everyone around her feel engaged and comfortable — and somehow, through guilt or charm or sheer persistence, she brought me out of my funk. Within a few weeks of meeting her, I developed some modicum of a social life.
Roughly a month into our friendship, Mary asked me if I would be willing to come to her birthday party. I, honored, agreed.
"Great," she said, beaming. "It's at the Paradise Valley Nudist Resort. Now, that's roughly an hour outside the city so if you're worried about the drive, I'll find a friend you can ride with."
I stared at her blankly, attempting to hide that I was absolutely terrified.
"Besides," she added, clearly excited by the convenience of it all. "If you pretend you're a couple when they check you in, first-time couples get in free! It's perfect!"