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Introverted Woman ‘Humiliated’ After Husband’s Birthday Surprise Triggers Anxiety Attack At Party

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Surprise parties are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Public displays that make them the center of attention are not everyone’s cup of tea either.

For people with anxiety disorders or PTSD, both of those things can be more panic than happiness inducing. And one would expect their significant other to know that.

But what if your spouse ignored your anxiety to give the party they want for your birthday?

A Redditor dealing with that issue turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback on their response.

The Redditor asked:

“AITA for embarrassing my husband by leaving my party and going home?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“Last Saturday my husband and eight of our friends went to a local pub to celebrate my 40th birthday. Restrictions where I live are loosened so we thought we would go and have a nice meal and chat with friends that we haven’t been able to spend time with in over a year.”

“I am very introverted and shy. I do not like large groups of people, and I start getting anxious and have trouble breathing in very loud environments.”

“My husband knows this, and is aware of this, and has been throughout the entirety of our 18 year marriage.”

“When we go to the restaurant he was acting very odd, I just chalked it up to it being our first time in a restaurant in over a year. Right after we finished eating he excused himself to go to the restroom.”

“About five minutes later he returns with a giant balloon bouquet, a cake and a line of wait staff behind him clapping and singing. All of our friends at the table were recording me on their phones, people at other tables were clapping and all I wanted to do was crawl under the table and hide.”

“The noise was unbearable to me, I started sweating and shaking and couldn’t breathe so I excused myself from the table and left the restaurant.”

“I took an Uber home and left my husband at the restaurant (he drove his car), with everyone else. When I got home, I just laid in the bed and cried.”

“I felt humiliated.”

“He came home an hour later yelling at me and accusing me of embarrassing him. I yelled back that he knew I do not like things like that, and he knows how I feel about it.”

“I told him that he completely humiliated me in front of all of our friends and complete strangers. He said that it was my 40th birthday and I should be grateful to him for planning such an event.”

“I told him I was not grateful, that he did not consider my feelings at all, and that he truly betrayed me by doing this.”

“He is currently not speaking to me, he says that I need to send an apology text to all of our friends and make things right. He also says that he will not speak to me until I apologize to him for making a scene at the restaurant.”

“AITA for leaving the restaurant and embarrassing him?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. He tried to do a kind gesture, but at this point in your marriage he should have known how uncomfortable it would have made you.”

“‘…he says that I need to send an apology text to all of our friends and make things right’.”

“[Tell them] ‘I’m sorry you had to witness my husband humiliating me in public. He knows that was the last thing I would ever want to live through. I’m also sorry you felt the need to record it’.” ~ bigb*ttf*ker

“NTA. I’ve noticed that oftentimes when someone plans these kind of surprise parties, it’s for the pats they get on the back for it, and less about what the birthday person really wants.”

“Instead of coming home to see if you were okay, he came in yelling and demanding apologies. I’m sorry, OP. I’m sure your real friends will understand if your husband doesn’t.” ~ truthpastry

“I agree, NTA. The partner wanted to do ‘something nice for her birthday’ and did his idea of that, not what OP would want.”

“You can do something nice and special in private without triggering anxieties.” ~ Piebandit

“Agree with NTA. Also you can create surprise parties that aren’t overwhelming!”

“When I turned 21, my bff threw me a small party with 8 of our friends as she knew that I struggle with large crowds.”

“It was perfect! And I still think of it fondly.” ~ Disobedient_Bathing

The OP returned with an update.

“Thank you for all of your replies. I appreciate everyone of you for commenting and giving such thoughtful and kind advice.”

“Even the people calling me an AH, I appreciate your honesty.”

“I just wanted to say that I have been diagnosed with anxiety. I’ve also been diagnosed with PTSD.”

“This is from an abusive childhood. I have been in therapy for 22 years and my husband is well aware of my diagnoses and also my triggers.”

“He comes to counseling with me once a month.”

“We did speak a little while ago and he did apologize. He said he wanted to do something nice for me and was hurt that it didn’t go like he planned.”

“I told him that what he did was not okay and it really hurt me that I trusted him and thought he understood how I would feel about something like this. I told him he tricked me into thinking it was a meal with friends and it was a terrible thing to do.”

“My friends know that I have anxiety but not how bad. This was the first time they ever saw me have an anxiety attack.”

If you want to do something nice for a loved one, taking their needs into account should be paramount.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.