Yesterday was Thursday. To most it is just another day of the week, for me it is something important. Every Thursday my family gets together with some friends for dinner, rotating between houses so that everyone gets to come up with what to cook while the others chip in on things like dessert and drinks. Occasionally my family has to miss out because we try to get together with our extended family on that same night of the week once a month, but that is the only excuse allowed.
For most people it's still not a big deal. Who would want to find excuses to not see friends, let the kids play mostly unfettered, get tipsy while talking or playing card games? MOST people would love the chance to get to talk about the show their friends also obsess over or play a game of pool no one has to pay for. MOST people would gladly circle every Thursday on the calendar for the foreseeable future without hesitation and grin wickedly remembering the week one friend got so excited about burning a 3 yr old's taste buds, because that kid will eat anything spicy and hell yeah it is an accomplishment to get her to back off the adult wings. MOST people are not me.
If you knew me, you would know that consistently meeting with people every week is kind of a big deal. If you knew me, you would know that taking away my excuses to interact in public could be a really bad thing. If you knew me, you would know that there is a strong chance at some point this will all be too much. And if you knew me, you would probably never know why.
But somehow this whole "Dinner With Friends" thing works for me. Sure I don't really love going out for other things on other days of the week unless well within my other comfort zones. And yeah Wednesdays are a strictly family day with everyone staying at home and spending time together that really kinda annoys the hubby and oldest son. And maybe having people so willing and ready to talk about Supernatural with can be a dangerous thing. But I am enjoying it all.
For something like 7 months we have been doing this! That's a big deal in case you didn't know. For seven months I have been made to interact with people on a weekly basis! For seven months I have been getting to know people and have allowed them to get to know me. For seven months I have given up a bit of control on things like what we are eating that night, where we will be hanging out, what drinks I will have access too, what the kids are playing, what the adults are playing. Things normally I would try hard to micromanage because I can do it all, host it all, better. But giving it up, I am learning to really trust these people.
This was pointed out to me just last night. A metaphorical flashlight shining on the point throughout the night. Let me walk you through my night of "Wow, I think I have grown!"
- It had been a long week up to this point, one that had me spending most of Wednesday in bed and thinking it would be nice to repeat the very lazy lounging on Thursday as well. I felt weary throughout most of the day, wanting nothing more than sleep really. But we had plans, standing plans, that I was not about to be let out of.
- The husband picked what we were going to bring. Drinks and honey glazed carrots. He makes really good honey glazed carrots. Only problem, we didn't have the stuff for the dish so we would have to stop and get the things and cook it at our friend's house. I hate cooking in other places, out of my element so to speak were I know where everything is and all that jazz. But there was no other option.
- I was going to have to cook!!! I enjoy cooking, don't get me wrong. I am using my family and friends as guinea pigs until I perfect my own unique lasagna recipe. BUT the husband makes the good honey carrots. Everyone loves his honey carrots. He knows how to make them. I would be making them for the first time for our friends. Oh yeah no pressure. Why?
- Because the husband and kids would be going next door to swim while I cooked. Along with our friends. Leaving me alone in a strange kitchen, by myself, to make something I haven't made before. And with instructions like "lot of butter." "Then add a ton of the cinnamon" "And when they are ready pour on the honey." What? No recipe? Left alone? Normally I would be panicking. Instead, I don't know, I rolled with it. I turned on Pandora on a phone to fill the silence, and began chopping carrots. Damn near relaxed!!
- When the last of our friends arrived I directed them to the pool without a thought. Told them to go have fun. One of them went about putting the drinks they had brought in the fridge, reaching around me to put one on the counter. "Brought you Smirnoff." He grinned. Thankfully I didn't cry right there. They went out of their way to bring drinks I liked even though both of them would drink whatever was available. I am the picky drinker and they thought about that as they made their purchases. Then he made sure I had one before leaving the house. It's a big thing for me to have people spoil me. A really big thing.
- His girlfriend asked where my swimsuit was. Uh oh. Oh no. I would not be swimming. Why? Well because . . . I don't know. It's been a long week, I've been stressed. Sometimes I just can't do water. I spent the next twenty minutes explaining to her one of my justified oddities in comparison to this thing I have with water that has no reasoning, it just is. She laughed. "You are so weird." She laughed again. "Ok, Whatever." She shrugged. Like it's no big deal that a grown ass woman has some seriously odd issues with water for no apparent reason. (Yeah because the no artificial orange thing is so normal, too.) She called me weird, we BOTH laughed about it. When she left I was still smiling, because she hadn't meant that in a mean, teasing way. She had made an observation: I was weird, and was perfectly ok with it! That doesn't happen for me.
- When the carrots were done, I covered them, grabbed my drink, and went to sit next to the pool while the others swam. I made one guy get off the cooler because that was the close, dry seat, he could get in the pool so I could sit. I took beers and moved them out of the way of the splashes, handed over new ones, joked with a guy I had never met before, dug through a bin for goggles that didn't exist. I acted like a normal adult instead of my quiet, shy, withdrawn self. Of course no one there realized a difference, because with them I am always talkative, I always tease others, I always fit in. None of them know that I really never do. Well maybe except the one guy who knew me in High school and knows I have issues with making friends. But not the others.
- When we sat down to eat I warned them all: "If the carrots suck blame him, he left me to cook them." Everyone agreed they tasted great. "That was my way of fishing for complements while using him as a scapegoat just in case." I told them honestly. After all, I need reassurance and confirmation. They laughed and said again that the carrots tasted good. No judging the fact that I needed the words to be said, just doing it and moving on.
It was on the drive home that I came to the very tipsy realization that I am entirely too blessed for my own good. I have spent the past couple of years coming to terms with all my issues, spending a lot of time taking a closer look at myself than I have wanted to. I am flawed. It's something that I am learning to just deal with, but fully come to terms with it. I am flawed and that is ok. It helps that I have this awesome husband that knows about my flaws, either seeing them for himself or listening as I fill him in on what is going on inside my head. My three closest friends have anxiety issues, I think two of them are on meds and the third is seriously considering doing the same, so when I need someone to understand from my perspective I have people to talk to. But they live in three different states from me and aren't exactly available for coffee at my house, and sometimes no one is able to talk me down from an attack (although they have on numerous occasions thus far). I had been back in Texas for nearly five years before I was able to find other friends that I felt comfortable enough to be around, to talk to, to be myself with. But now I have that. Because I am so very lucky.
So I told my husband on the drive home about these little revelations about the people we hand out with, and how I felt I needed to thank them. He told me I really should. So:
Thank you! Thank you Erin, Nicole, and Abby for knowing what it's like and being there through thick and thin for more years than we should be comfortable admitting to with our age. Thank you Blair for taking a chance and continuing to push until I was able to be a friend back, and making me keep in touch when I wanted to hide away. Thank you Renn for knowing back before I was ok with myself enough to be ok with others and not judging me by what you know. Thank you Joseph for putting up with my quiet self long enough to get to know me. Thank you Jenn for just being you, because you are so awesome words can't cover it all and I really needed a friend like you. Thank you Ju for being patient enough to try to understand when our differences make it really hard to get. Thank you Brooke and Derek for seeing me as more and trying to be friends, because y'all and the kids mean so much to me. Thank you guys, all of you, for letting me be flawed and not making me think it is my fault or that I am broken. I've been trying to figure myself out and heal what I can by myself, but you all make it so much easier. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I would like to extend a hand to anyone that needs friends like mine. I may not be them, but I like to thank I am a good friend in my own right. So if you need someone to talk to, someone that gets you or is willing to listen enough to work on getting you, please feel free to get a hold of me. Just because I am figuring my own things out doesn't mean I am not willing to help you with yours, too. Who knows, the next time I say thank you, you may be the one I am saying it to.