Do you ever have one of those days / evenings / events where you feel like you’ve stepped in a time machine, back to a sadder, more lonely place?
I did yesterday.
I went to an event (which was beautifully organised and executed and I think everyone else there had a lovely, lovely time) and I sat there at dinner, surrounded by people, feeling utterly, totally alone.
And not in a good way.
I mean, I like being alone, when there’s a sense of volition and choice to it. I like time to think, or relax, or read, or pray, or just be. But in amongst a crowd? That’s not alone, that’s lonely. I tried and tried to get involved with the conversations around me (and I think anyone who’s every spent more than five minutes with me will find the fact that I couldn’t rather astonishing. Not for nothing was one of my childhood nicknames Little Miss Chatterbox), but after a few block outs, I just gave up. At one point I sat there on the corner of the table, not talking to a soul, for a good half hour.
And I thought back to other times where I’ve felt that left out. Back when I was at boarding school and the popular girls would choose someone to shun at breakfast that week. When I first arrived at Forres and felt so clumsy and new and odd…everyone seemed to know each other so well. At a social event I went to earlier this year where a bunch of people decided to leave me standing all alone rather than invite me to join their table. The feeling always passes, but isn’t it a little soul-destroying, feeling you’re on the outside?
So I left, earlier even than I was planning to, and managed to get out of the restaurant before the tears came. Tears of frustration, and sadness, and with a healthy whack of self-pity mixed in.
And then I went Claire on it. Because I realise the reason this affected me so much (even at the grand old age of 29) is because it’s exceptionally rare that I do feel left out. I am almost constantly surrounded by people who I love, and who love me (faults and all). In my family, and my friends, and Matthew, and the Joinees, and my blog-friends, and my pupils, I have such a wealth of warmth and support, that to feel outside of things is an alien experience.
How lucky am I?
I am so grateful for the lesson that a few hours of loneliness taught me last night. It reminded me anew how blessed I am, and made me thankful once more for the friendship, love, and kindness which is woven into my every day. It made me feel heart sorry for people who don’t have the luxury of loneliness being a passing thing – I truly hope that everyone has someone who takes that away for them (or even better, a bunch of people).
And as I arrived home to a big cuddle from my boy, a gift from an old friend, a lovely card from an even older friend, a Christmas card from a new friend and texts and emails from friends various, I said thank you once again. Because for me, this was just a bad evening in what is a very good, and fortunate, and blessed life.
I love when I learn things.