Sometimes even going to the grocery store is a sad experience. People–couples–selecting produce together. Or one making sure the kids don’t get run over in the aisle while the other pulls stuff off the shelves. Perhaps you know how it is. Loneliness strikes at odd times.
I’m the woman with long grey hair who eats alone, with a book, at the Chinese/Thai restaurant three miles down the road. I usually bring something light to read, like one of E.F. Benson’s Mapp & Lucia books, which are about aging women who live alone and have ferocious and hilarious social “Queen Bee” type duels with each other. (The British writers do this sort of thing so well.) But I can find that even these books are bittersweet. I am not good at social jousting, nor do I want to spend my days frothing with enmity over tiny matters (as Benson’s characters do), but sometimes I envy the characters with their daily marketing, out and about in the streets, exchanging gossip and thinking snarky thoughts about each other. Even that would mean some sort of regular social intercourse.
About reading in restaurants. It keeps me distracted, as I eat alone in a roomful of people. It makes me look… I dunno…not so pathetic? But I have to be careful what I select. If I brought some of the other books from my library (the witchy weird stuff), I might make the waitpeople nervous. I need them to be congenial, as they may be the only human beings I speak with, in person, all day. Ditto with grocery store clerks.
So the other day, I was driving back from the grocery store, saddened and frankly lonesome. But I thought about how much worse I used to feel during the latter days of my marriage. Is it worse to be lonely in a marriage or in a restaurant? I think there’s an easy answer to that one.
There was a period when I was really knocking myself out, going back to school, earning degrees, taking certification classes, trying to get a business together in spite of my multiple-chemical sensitivity difficulties–and trying to get my (now ex) husband to see me as a person of value, someone he could be proud of–not just the chronically fatigued wife and mother and the family business bookkeeper–but someone who really was trying to live up to her potential, in spite of everything. But in some odd way, it seemed that everything I did only made things worse. And it was a bad time anyway. Not faulting him–we had just grown utterly apart.
So I ventured into a lot of things, pretty much on my own. Neo-Tantra being one of them. And I went to pujas in Sebastopol sometimes and fancied myself as someone who was tapping into her sacred energy, and welcome to share it (in those brief tantric circle exercises) with others. The first time I went, I was pretty nervous. I didn’t know anyone. And there was one man there who seemed gruff and a little scary to me. But there is a magic that can happen when those events are done well–you end up pairing with “the right person” for each exercise (breathing, dancing, whatever it is). And that’s what happened to me in the circle that night.
I eventually made my way around the circle to “Mr. Scary.” Do you know what that man did? He simply put his arms around me, very gently and very respectfully, and held me as he said, “I’m so proud of you.” Words which I had longed to hear from my husband.
That was years ago.
“I’m so proud of you.” Even now I cry as I remember.
2 thoughts on ““So Proud of You…””
Well, at least online you’re not alone, you have your friends here. That’s sad you have to leave the witch books at home because of potentially judgemental people. I know what it’s like to be in the broom closet myself. I have christian family I have to hide that from all the time. When they come visit, which isn’t often, I make sure my bedroom door is closed so they won’t see my Loki altar. Those british books sound entertaining. There’s one called Sky O’Malley by Beatrice Small I love. That irish lass is the queen of snark! It gets her through every situation you can imagine. She’s like Captain Jack Sparrow with more sarcasm. I love Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility too. We could talk for hours, lol. I feel sad you feel lonely going to those places. That unexpected gesture of comfort from the man in the circle…reminds me of how Loki makes us go outside of our comfort zones sometimes.
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Hi Moonfire, Thanks again for reading and commenting. Yes, online is where my social life happens. After almost 30 years of a somewhat isolated existence due to multiple chemical sensitivity, I do depend on online interactions to a huge extent. And I do have some old and dear friends, and some developing new ones in this new area, but the old and dear ones (plus my kids) are 150 miles away. I’ll have to check out the Sky O’Malley book! And I am also a HUGE Austen fan. When I evacuated this summer due to wildfires, I took a few chosen books–my hardbound collection of Jane Austen books were some of them (as were the Lois McMasters Bujold Miles Vorkosigan books. I like your observation about Loki and comfort zones–makes perfect sense. Thank you! All the best, Amy