Well, instead of a Winter Wonderland, I feel I am living in a Winter Blunderland. But as with all stories, if you are to really understand where I am coming from, you need to know the history. You can’t solve an equation without the numbers, right? Although, I am not asking you to solve anything. Just don’t want you to be blinking your eyes and scrunching your face in frustration.
So a couple years back, my husband, Mike, got involved in the local bicycling club. There are a lot of wealthy, successful people in this group, but he mingles with them all, and their social status has never intimidated him or affected him. He is just naturally a social person, and he has many “friends.”
One of the club members was getting ready to turn 50, and Mike was invited to her birthday party, which means that I was, as his wife, invited as well. The clubmember/birthday girl is a lifetime resident of our small town, as I am. Mike is from an adjacent town, so he doesn’t share a history with many residents, as I do. He is free to establish his place here without any preconceived notions or social bias.
Growing up in this small community, we weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. I was included as part of the group of uppities in my high school class, but I always felt that I didn’t belong there, and there were some who made sure I knew that they did not feel I belonged with them.
Luckily, after graduation from high school, I lost touch with most of these people. I moved on, made new friends, had children, got a job, learned new crafts, etc. I gained confidence in myself and realized the folly of all the high school pressures and cliques. The significance of these people was no more. They no longer held any power over my self worth.
But when Mike told me of this invitation, it was like I went spinning backward in time. My adult self kept reminding me that I am not that teenage girl anymore, and all those illusions are no more. I was turning fifty that year, as well, and reassured myself that I am confident, successful and unaffected by the social pressures.
The day of the party, my daughter-in-law helped me pick out something to wear, and my husband assured me that I looked beautiful and that we would not be staying long – just long enough to be polite.
Long story short (if I even know how to do that), the party ended up being a lot of fun. We stayed for almost the entire thing. The best part, though, was that the birthday girl’s sister-in-law was there. For the sake of this person, I will name her Ginger.
Ginger graduated the same year that I did but from another school. I didn’t know her well, but she was in that upper crust group, so hung out with that part of the people at my school. I had always thought she seemed like a really cool person to hang out with. There was just something about her – not her money, looks, or the way she dressed – just something, which I now recognize as her creative self. I didn’t ever try to be her friend, because I never felt I was up to her status. Here at this party, though, at almost fifty years old, it seemed the past had fallen away. Ginger was totally into me. She was laughing and talking with me, and she was just astounded that she and I had never hung out before. I didn’t tell her that I was there, but I was someone else. Someone she just didn’t notice.
I left that party with hope. Hope that I could actually find friends my age with similar creative interest. Friends who aspired for more than a glass of wine, a romance novel and some juicy gossip.
As I said earlier, that was a couple years ago. Since then, I have attended a few other social events where Ginger was in attendance, and my daughter even worked part-time for Ginger at her store. Most recently, Ginger and her sister-in-law hosted a party in an old barn they had renovated. The setting reminded me of a photo from a Country Living Magazine, and I kept seeing the experience through the lens of a magazine. Ginger and I spoke, and even had a few laughs. I complimented her work and decorating, and she told me she was sorry about my father’s passing (two years previous).
Again, life went on. I didn’t try to call her up for coffee or stop by her store or hit her up on Facebook. Sometimes I looked at her pictures, but realized that she is busy. She started having children at a late age, and mine are grown and gone. I just could never find it in myself to set myself up for the quite probable rejection. I beat myself up for that, because I would scold my nieces and my daughter for not taking the risk. Let’s face it, though, those high school scars are much deeper than we realize.
I have gotten out of practice at making friends. I had three best friends in high school. One of them died in 1998. Another married a man who didn’t “let her” be social. And the other, well, she and I had a falling out and had just recently reunited only to find that we had grown so far apart; we were like strangers.
I have a large family – four brothers and four sisters – their spouses – their children, and I have my children. That takes up a lot of my time and energy. I live next door to my mom, and I enjoy spending time with her. Mainly, though, I enjoy spending time with my creativity. Even so, there is a part of me that longs for that “girlfriend” stuff. My daughter and I used to spend time in that type of space, but she moved with her husband three thousand miles away. That is the space that I have felt needs filled. The “friend” space. Although, I must say, I am picky and don’t want to just have surface friends. If we can’t connect on some deeper level, then it is not worth my time.
Last night I went to the local drug store to pick up some prescriptions and did some Christmas shopping, as they had some specials, and I had a 20% off coupon. As I was heading to the front of the store after paying at the pharmacy in the back, I pushed my cart easily along. I noticed a woman squatted down looking at a display of memory cards, and I realized it was Ginger. I smiled, and the ornery part of me decided I would brush her with my cart to get her attention and then, say hello.
Well, as my cart gently brushed against her back, Ginger put her hand on the floor, and my cart rolled right over it!!!!
Stop laughing! I know it sounds like something out of a sitcom, but I was mortified!
It all happened so quickly. There was no way to avoid it – except for me to have never had the stupid idea in the first place.
Ginger yanked her hand to her chest and grimaced in pain. Of course, I was apologizing over and over, and said, “That was a prank that went horribly wrong!”
At first she glared at me, and with the way she was acting, I truly thought I must have broken her finger. The time that she spent just staring at me like I had punched her for no reason seemed like it went on for an eternity. This was a field day for my inner critic. The little girl who was clumsy and the rejected teenager were jumping out from hiding, and I wanted to go crawl under a rock.
Finally, she held her hand out and bent her fingers, and said, “It’s okay. Really. It’s okay. See?” She bent her fingers again, then added, “And it was funny! Really!”
We commenced her search trying to find the right memory card for her camera, but when the sales associate started to help her, I wheeled my vicious cart out the door, loaded my car, then took the cart back to the rack.
Once safely in my car and on my way home, I let the flood gates down, and I sobbed, and I sobbed. I truly think there was a few people sobbing inside me: the grieving daughter, the grieving mother, the lonely wife, the rejected teenager, the rejected adult, the odd artist, the misunderstood……I could go on.
I cried for all those people living inside me.
The house was empty when I got home, which I was grateful for. My husband had gone to play racquetball with one of his many friends, and my adult son was not around. My dog greeted me, then ran away from me, as she must have sensed something was not right.
I decided I would call my youngest sister. She had called me before with meltdowns. And even though I had always felt like the older, wiser sister, I decided I would let her play that role for me. She was very receptive and compassionate, and she let me wallow a little, then threw in the rope and pulled me up. Time to move to compassion and healing.
Today I shared the story with my mother. I felt that if I talked about it enough, I might actually find humor in it. Instead, I am still astounded at the amount of pain I feel associated with this event. Every time I think of it, I feel my energy sinking, and I want to cry. I’ve tried to sort it out, and I just can’t seem to do it. One thing I know for sure, though, is that I am shocked at how insecure I have become. I am fifty-two years old, and when I look back at my life, I see times that I was much more secure, much more confident, and….much happier. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. I thought I had already moved past all that. I thought I was content – even happy. And then this. I wonder if it’s hormones. I wonder if it’s because I have been sick and am still recovering.
Or maybe, just maybe, this is the last hurrah for that teenage girl who felt she didn’t belong anywhere. Maybe I just need to give her a hug and send her on her way. After all, I’ve moved on. I have found my self worth. I have seen the folly of social status – and all that stuff is only real to those who believe it, and that’s just in their own little fantasy. I don’t have to live in their fantasy.
So that’s what I am doing. I forgive me for not believing in myself and my inner worth. I forgive the girl who believed the fantasy. And I give compassion to the parts of me that still believe that my life could be made better by having someone else, anyone else, in it. I am complete. I am happy. I am centered in myself. I am a creative woman, creating to bring light and happiness to the world while I am in it.
I guess the only thing left is to be thankful for the blunders; they help us heal what’s under!