Wow! I forgot about writing my blog until today. It has been a very power packed week. In my adult life I have given the least amount of sustained attention to socializing and community. Socializing didn't come easily. When I first started going to parties I would concentrate on the food and stuff myself to allay my anxiety. When I was in my twenties and thirties I created an alter ego who I would send to parties. I called her Suzy Creamcheese. I would set aside my fears and present the persona of Suzy, the outgoing animated person I thought I should be. The problem was in pretending to be Suzy, I left myself and often felt very drained. As I've grown more comfortable with myself , I have grown more comfortable with socializing. Small talk is very challenging and I'm not naturally good at it. It's hard for me to think of what to say to a person that's deliberately superficial. I have recognized over the years that it's rarely appropriate to start discussing spiritual philosophy with a stranger and have learned the value of starting a conversation with a warm up. After I let go of Suzy, I rarely went to parties for many years. I mostly stopped getting invited. In the last few years I have been getting interested in being more social. I at least wanted to be comfortable enough at a party to have a choice whether to attend or not. So, I created my perfect party rule.
I would go to a party and have a meaningful one to one conversation with one person.( One to one is always easier for me because I am an introvert.)I would do this by asking questions I cared about the answers to, listening attentively and then being as authentic as I felt safe to be with what I shared. Than I was free to go. Several times I went and fulfilled my intention and left. Several times I fulfilled my intention and decided I was comfortable enough to stay longer.
So this is why I forgot to write my blog. My dear friend Lynne was in town from Austin with her new fiance Patrick. Gary and I and the two of them went up to our friends Linza and Eric's house in the mountains for the weekend. It was a big deal for both Gary and I to do this because neither one of us is very comfortable in groups. This group seemed more like a community because I felt more comfortable being myself. It was fun to cook meals together and go hiking. I have rarely experienced being at ease with five other people all of whom I enjoyed spending time with. Then Lynne and Patrick came down to my house and stayed until this afternoon. It was challenging because I was working in the midst of it all. It was also satisfying to practice taking care of myself and noticing when I didn't. One day I was having a conversation with them and didn't give myself time to eat breakfast. I got to see once again how irritable I am when my blood sugar gets low. It definitely isn't pretty. I learned a lot about my difficulty in asking for what I want and need especially when I have people staying in my house. By the time they left I was better at being centered and being close to them at the same time. I carved out some time alone and that helped too. I am glad they were here and glad they are gone. I am learning the importance of healthy boundaries. The alternative is to lose myself and then feel resentful-not a very attractive alternative. I am grateful to have friends I love with whom I can be real and grow. Where are you with socializing? How could you make it easier for yourself if you are drawn to do it and it is challenging?