I've posted here a few times. I was in a 5 1/2 year old relationship with someone very abusive. She was never formally diagnosed as such, but she had very strong covert narcissistic traits. A lot of the abuse was covert in nature, gaslighting, isolating, silent-treatment and subtle put downs.
For me the worst abuse occurred in intimate situations. Unfortunately I experienced for a while ED as a result of A/D medication I was on. It was not something I could control. My ex would scream and yell at me, she would say all sorts of horrible hurtful things. She made it very clear this problem was entirely my fault, and that I had to fix it. I believed her, so I tapered of the A/D medication, and sure enough the ED issue did improve. Although I never felt safe/comfortable around my ex, so naturally that would have an impact.
To make matters worse, once this problem was resolved, she told me I was a monster and an animal basically for having a sex drive (which at that times wasn't exactly high due to the abuse).
I managed to escape that relationship 10 months ago. I've had quite a bit of therapy and felt like I was making progress and healing.
Recently I was contacted by a good friend. She said a friend of hers took interest in me, and suggested we go on a blind date. Nothing high-pressure, just coffee during my lunch break at work. I agreed to this. I figured there's nothing to lose, and it would be good for me to meet someone new.
As time passed, and the day this would take place got closer, I cancelled it. I was having panic attacks, so scared of just having coffee with someone. Instead of feeling excited and maybe just a little nervous, which it probably normal, I felt paralysed by fear.
Now that I've cancelled this, I feel really disappointed in myself. I though I had made more progress in overcoming the damage caused by my ex. It like being back at square one again.
I feel totally stuck. I'm 29 years old, and quite lonely in many respects, yet I'm unable to even have coffee with someone. In one sense I'm ready to meet someone new, but there almost a hard-wired circuit in my brain that activates a panic response at the slightest hint of potential romance.
I would be so grateful if anyone has advice for me that might help me get out of this predicament.