Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, December 05, 2003

I forgot how much tears burned

listening to: Appropriately enough, 'Stuck in the Moment' by U2
feeling: Frustrated

Tonight was our workplace Christmas party. It tends to be a fairly formal affair, so I took a long, relaxing bath, did a very nice job with my makeup (evening dramatic without looking cheap), put my hair up in a band with many clips to soften the lines around my face, and wore a long velvet skirt and matching tunic. All in all, it was very successful. I looked very nice.

I enjoyed everything both before and during dinner. I knew everyone at the table except for one of the spouses and an older woman who introduced herself and had asked if she could sit with us. She didn't know many people and didn't have an escort. Everyone else I had spoken with on previous occasions and so I felt fine. We all had good conversation and I felt at ease.

After dinner, though, the band started playing and the mingling began. I don't really mingle well. I'm fine in small groups, especially if I know the others, but when most of my co-workers have their spouses or other guests with them, that's a lot of people I don't know and my social phobia starts to kick in. I try to introduce myself, shake hands, etc., but part of me just wants to run and hide. The band was great and I love the style of music ('Under the Boardwalk'--that sort of thing), but it was loud and it made it difficult to keep any sort of conversation going. It's the type of music I would love to dance to, but I'm too self-conscious to do so. Most people were coupled, but I was finding it hard to try to keep up any sort of conversation with the other wallflowers. The thought of someone perhaps asking me to dance was terrifying, and yet I so wanted to. Nor did I feel comfortable drinking any alcohol--which frankly might have put me a little more at ease--since I was driving. Last year I had a terrible headache from the loud music and cigarette smoke but at least I was able to sing along to the music and enjoy myself. Tonight, though, even though we were in a better spot and the smokers were on the other side of the room, I felt paralysed. I could feel myself shutting down.

Part of it, too, I know, is that my big secret is that I'm a hopeless romantic. It's the type of music I'd love to be with someone to. I wanted to be able to show off someone I loved, too, and well, that's just not an option. As I started to turn inward, this overwhelming fountain of sadness just welled up from somewhere way down deep. I guess I usually keep it in check and tell myself that I'm mostly happy with my life. But I guess I've been ignoring a very strong loneliness. I so wanted someone as a part of my life in that moment, and I couldn't stop crying. I went to the ladies' room and even outside for a bit, but it didn't really help. So I went back in and told Dwana that I was going on home. I tried to explain a little, but it's not really a rational sort of thing. But she hugged me and that helped. There was no sense staying if I wasn't going to enjoy it. I had wanted to stay and celebrate someone's birthday, but I couldn't stop crying, and it was obvious. Even the bartender asked me if I was alright when I went to get a soda.

And, I guess, part of it is that this is supposed to be a real 'thank you' to everyone for doing their jobs and they recognise certain anniversaries and the fact of the matter is that it's unlikely I'll be able to stay because even though I love my job, having been partly laid off I have to find another means of supporting myself. So I guess it felt sort of empty.

So I went on home. I was really careful driving because I knew I had all these emotions coming up and I did really well until the turnoff to my house, where I just didn't register that the light was red and braked to late so I did a sort of uncontrolled skid through the red light and the turn. Thankfully no one was coming--it was about to turn green anyway so it was red for everyone else. I guess someone was looking out for me...but that could have been a costly mistake.

There's a small part of it that's me feeling like a failure. I weighed myself for the first time in awhile earlier today and probably shouldn't have...I weigh more than I ever have--282 lbs, so even though I've felt really good about myself lately, including my appearance, that was a little shocking and the air under my wings died down a bit. So, even though I look nice, and I know it, I feel like a bloated, clumsy oaf who's nearly 300 lbs and would look silly out on the dance floor by herself, nevermind with someone else. I know that's not exactly true, but that's how I was feeling.

The lability of emotions really surprised me. I've been on a pretty even, optimistic keel and was looking forward to the party. I think, too, with so many co-workers either pregnant or trying to become pregnant that I'm really starting to feel my age--and the retrospective look at the years people joined work probably didn't help. I just feel like this paralysis I have when it comes to meeting someone new is keeping me from so much. I can't even get so far as to the panic over trust or intimacy--I'm panicking just in meeting total strangers.

I have to admit, though, writing this has helped. And I know that I'm not a failure. Hell, I'm even pretty...and witty, and a whole lot of other good qualities. And, for each of these roadblocks I face, I get a little more confident. And it was actually logical to just come on home. A lot of people leave right after dinner. Since I don't drink or dance and it was too loud to really visit with the people I was comfortable with, really at that point I was just doodling on a napkin wishing I'd brought a book or even my PDA. You'd never know I was an introvert, would you? So there was no point in being there. Maybe I needed to have a little bit of an emotional jolt. It wasn't a breakdown. I didn't feel like I did back when I was having so many issues. It was a natural sort of wave of emotions triggered by being alone at a social event, and once I could accept them and sort of think my way through them, the pain has eased. And I never got up to the sobbing hysterically stage, at least. :)

I did forget how much tears burned and itched, though. But I've cleaned my face, gotten the makeup off (my face feels baby soft, which is at least a plus), and I have a stupid but loving white cat sitting on me as I type, purring.

I guess parties just aren't really my thing. But I'll chalk it up to a learning experience and go on.

After all, 'tomorrow is another day'. Right?

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