Circle of Women

I haven’t had many times in my life where I felt close to a group of women. I feel I am overwhelmingly blessed by the one to one connections I have with women in my life, but group stuff is really challenging for me. I don’t adapt well to different expectations existing at once.

One of the most shining examples of this working in my life was Jenny’s wedding in Scotland. That is a bright, shiny memory that inspires me on bad days. (Jenny sent me a bunch of wedding pictures for my birthday, because she loves me.) The wedding was a few years ago, but I still feel so much joy when I see the pictures. That wedding was one of the brightest days of my life. I had so much fun. I felt like I belonged. It was one of the nicest social engagements of my whole life.

Part of it was the feeling of connection to the women in the bridal party. The three bridesmaids plus bride have all been at least aware of one another for more than ten years. Many years ago I had social conflict with one of the women. Thankfully time healed that wound. I spent a lot of time in the group during the whole wedding weekend. I felt like I mattered. I felt listened to. I felt like I was an actual integral part of their lives. I don’t manage that feeling very often.

I’m not blaming anyone else for my lack of bonding abilities. I’m just talking about the shape of them.

So my shrink is harping on me to take some kind of real break. So she says I should get a job. I think she is… well, I don’t have nice words to say so I’ll just say I disagree with her assumptions about my levels of stress with regard to work. I am not other people. I do not show up at my job for the number of hours and walk away with little stress. Doesn’t matter if I work retail or teach or work in theatre, I work myself ragged. I don’t know how else to work. I’m not good at pacing. So I think the “get a job” angle is kind of the opposite of “take a break”.

But she’s right that I need a break.

So I emailed two of my closest girlfriends. Two of the ones who know one another and we have enough of a previous group identity that I am very confident we can make a weekend together really fun.

I’m not that good at putting together groups. I’m not always good at predicting who will get along with whom or why. But I know these ladies have had a lot of previous time spent with one another. I’m not creating a group connection out of thin air.

Often I find that I know two women (or more), and I know they are close but I don’t know how to be part of a group with them. I’m really shitty at group identity. I feel alienated. It doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything, but I really have a hard time feeling like I belong and I am allowed to be present in a group. It is hard to not believe that I am being allowed to come along because of geek social fallacies that say no one should be uninvited.

I almost never feel actually wanted.

But I’ve had lots of years with these two. They want me. They have gone through great effort to show up year after year. Sometimes some years aren’t as visit-tastic because of distance but life is like that.

Now we are negotiating. Just the fact that they both responded, “Yes, yes, YES!” is already kind of euphoric.

Part of how I convince myself to not die today is by always having lots of things to look forward to. It is part of why I schedule so many things so far in advance. I can’t die yet. I want to go on a Disney Cruise with my kids and friends in 2016. Can’t die yet.

It’s shallow. Only it isn’t. I use the resources available to me to make me feel like I have incentive to keep trying even when things are hard for me. That isn’t shallow, it is smart.

But sometimes I have trouble with only having awesome things be years (or even many months) away. That slog can feel very oppressive. So next month I will slip away for a weekend. I will get to go visit with two women who make me feel powerful, competent, and like I have a lot to offer the world. They really want me here.

I love you all very much and the pictures on the walls help a lot. It’s a big deal to feel like people I respect and love a lot are paying attention to me. I feel like an asshole because people reading my blog is paying attention to me but it doesn’t feel like it. It has basically no effect on my mood or feelings of safety. But seeing people does matter.

I also scheduled the cookie exchange and holiday open house. Because when I’ve been feeling suicidal that’s a good time to make sure I have reasons to feel like I can’t kill myself this festive holiday season. If you did not receive invitations to those events and you feel like you should, let me know. This whole “using a google group” thing is a work in progress.

I feel like I was reminded recently that people will only put up with a mentally ill person if that person is seen as “doing enough” to help themselves. It makes it really hard to figure out which portions are ok to reach out to other people. I could really use a weekend of feeling like a grown up and having adventures (especially adventures that aren’t tied up in sex). But I feel like if I am not “managing” well enough I don’t deserve to ask anyone to spend time with me. I should stay home and keep my stupidity locked behind my teeth.

I also feel like this is part of the reason why I consciously try not to get that attached to people any more. I’m too hard on my closest friends. So I shouldn’t have any. I can have friends who are held out a bit. People I don’t see very often. I should ensure that I watch my fucking mouth and I don’t say anything inappropriate.

I’m scared. I want this and I feel guilty and ashamed at the same time. Hell, I feel guilty that I didn’t invite some other women I know. But I don’t have any kind of group established elsewhere. These two are the main ones with whom I have managed cohesive group stuff repeatedly for years. It’s nearly miraculous.

I think it is a little funny that my kids are going to be really bitter that they don’t get to go hang out with the daughters of the ladies I asked to run away with me. Well, funny may not be the word. I find it delightful that my children love their children so much. I’m kind of an asshole about enjoying the feeling of, “Ha ha. Sometimes my preferences matter over yours.” I am not a very top-down parent. My will does prevail on a regular basis, but usually to such a degree that I get to decide that it is time to leave the park after five hours. I am not allowed to decide such a thing after three hours.

Not sure yet if we are camping or going to a big city. I think it is going to be fun either way. I’m more interested in a city. I’m going to camp a lot next year. We’ll see.

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