The invitation had said that all were welcome so I came. Walking in the door I looked around. Everyone seemed to be locked into private conversations, seats taken, sides chosen for games. I looked around the room knowing that once I had at least known how to be a part of this crowd but somehow I had gotten my directions mixed up on the way here and when I finally reached the local scene, all the rules seemed to have changed. Or maybe, I had changed.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t stay standing in the doorway. I went out and tried to mingle. A few even gave me the time of a comment or two though they then turned back to their groups not leaving a spot for me to join in. Every now and then someone would pass me on the way to the bar and exchange a few words. A few even asked me to coffee at some time somewhere in the future before they walked back to their group. I looked around, why was this so hard? Did I even belong to this crowd anymore?
I even tried to join in some of the games, but I have trouble winning when it means someone else is losing and, yet, I have enough of a competitive instinct to not want to be at the bottom of the deck either. There were others in the room like me and I tried to approach them. Only, I must have a sign on my head saying outsider because even those people were more interested in getting in the conversations then in starting a new one with me.
I am thankful that when I was on the inside, I tried to see the people on the edges and draw them in. It gives me hope that somewhere in here there might be a group that will let me in, and including me, help me bring others in as well.
I don’t know where that is though. All the songs and stories have altered and I don’t have the clout of relationships that helped me fit even though my edges aren’t what others think they should be. Feeling stifled by the loneliness of the crowd I go for a walk out in the air. I try other parties but find little difference. In the years I was away the party changed. I no longer knew what I could offer that would have meaning in keeping the party going. Nor did I know how to break through the barriers of backs turned inward forming tight clusters of community that shut out others. Slowly I make my way home and close the door.
I am in a time of waiting right now. It is not a waiting for others to change who they are. Nor do I have it in me to become someone other than I am. The waiting in the now is for a quieting of the fear within that doesn’t feel ready to face exclusion from one more party. It is an active waiting of trying to stay connected where I can, of keeping my heart open to others who also may need to know they are not alone at the edge of the crowd, of seeking of resources to help me conquer this dread of parties. It is a waiting that seeks to learn how to bridge the gap between once upon a time when I had at least a sense of the rules and the now when I feel lost in the room.
While I wait, I will create a community of creativity in my party of one. Maybe it will also lead me to a new crowd where I will know how to keep the party going. It will have to have an open door for others. I don’t want to forget what it is to feel left out of the party. When we forget, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the act of doing to others what we hated for ourselves.
At the moment, the energy of trying is too much for me to handle while keeping the essentials of life going. Dropping those cards, as well, would just add to this phobia. I will keep trying though. The young in my world need that of me. I will keep living that party of caring for them while I face this fear by seeking supports. I will wait in the now so that when I step out, I will have enough strength to stand alone in the crowd with the confidence that will allow others to feel included just because I am there.
Someday, I am going to party again.