Do you ever feel like you don't belong? Does it seem like you're always on the fringe of fitting in but never quite part of the group? Do you ever think that there's no one out there who really wants to be around you?
A lot lately.
And it stinks.
I went from feeling like I was a real part of a group, as if I finally "fit in" somewhere, to feeling as if it was all just an illusion (or maybe delusion?)
I know part of this is my fault. I had been arrogant in thinking that I had been completely healed of social anxiety disorder. I should have realized that the ability to push myself so far out of my comfort zone was a temporary blessing that was needed while I served in such a visible role. Unfortunately, as soon as I was given a new challenge all of my energy went to overcoming that and I no longer made as much of an effort to reach out to others. It doesn't help that the one place I always counted on to be around the people I know (church) is now a place where I have so little interaction with any of the adults that it adds to the feeling of isolation. Don't get me wrong- I love being with the children, but I miss having the built-in opportunity to visit with friends and meet new people. It's almost impossible to get to know someone in the 10 minutes before church starts- and after that all of my time is spent with the children.
I still try toget together with some of the people I think might like me. But there have been many invitations made for game nights, and 99% were turned down. We no longer have "friends" coming over to spend an evening with us. (With the exception of the Smiths. I don't want to dismiss their much needed and appreciated friendship.)
This leaves me wondering if it's me. I know I suck as a friend. I'm not very outgoing or lively. I don't want/need constant contact so I don't want to talk on the phone every day or hang out for hours on end a couple times a week. (This doesn't mean that I don't want any contact though. I enjoy conversations with friends and getting together to do things or just to visit.) I don't do scrapbooking or crafts, and I feel awkward going to playgroup when I have no young children and don't really relate to the life stage that the other ladies are at. I just don't fit in. Which is okay if you still feel accepted and wanted. But I don't any more.
What makes it worse is that I hate whining. I hate feeling sorry for myself. So most days I just try to stay busy and not think about it. Other times, I make the effort to try to reach out again.
Unfortunately, no matter how much I hate feeling sorry for myself, those feelings are real. I can't pretend that I'm not hurt when I hear about other people being invited over for games, celebrations, dinners, etc. and no one ever invites my family. (*Note: Not to be rude, but please don't suddenly invite us over because you feel sorry for us or because you think you should be charitable. If you didn't want us over before, don't invite us now.)
I know that I need to make the effort to reach out to others again. One of our family goals is to have game nights on a regular basis again. I want to get better at being social. I'll go to every activity offered and push myself to keep trying. Maybe this year will have miraculous results and we'll find a core group of friends who want to get together with us. Or maybe we'll continue living on the fringes. Either way, I've got to do my part to try.
If anyone has ever wanted to join us for a game night but hasn't been able to- let me know. Or if you've come over before but haven't made it back again and would like to- let me know. I'd be happy to have the company. And if you're not interested in being my friend but can relate to how I feel- at least we know we're not alone.