Have you ever experienced disappointment over a social invitation you had to turn down, but then upon afterthought realized it was probably best you couldn't go?
This evening I had to turn down a weekend invitation to a birthday party because of my husband being away at Provincial Synod and it got me remembering another invitation from years ago, one that I also had to turn down due to my absent husband and I remember the relief I felt when I realized what I was REALLY going to miss if I had been able to go: the men heading out to do separate "guy" activity in the afternoon and then the women coming to join them in the evening for dinner and drinks.
I remember feeling like I had actually dodged a bullet socially that day by being unable to attend. My husband would have done just fine with the group of men gathering together, but I would have found myself on the outside of that particular group of women. Each individual woman carried with her a strong sense of her own self-worth, of her own importance to the world in general. A couple of the women were just insecure enough, despite their high opinions of themselves (and those opinions were not actually undeserved) that they would cling together and exclude everyone else. (I knew this because I had seen them in action on other occasions at various parties in our town.) The third one, usually the attachment for one of the aforementioned women, had a slightly lower status and would have been left out of her usual best friend's conversation, so she would have attached herself to what I call the "floater" in the group, someone who was seen as another good friend, to that woman and also to the other woman who would be attached to the higher status woman for the night. I would end up on my own outside both groups, because odd numbers in a group of women rarely works, women being built socially the way we are. "Floater woman" was a very nice gal, actually quite insecure herself but more emotionally mature as far as being able to incorporate more than one woman at a time into her conversations, but she would find herself stymied to know how to make me feel included because her new "best friend" would want no part in my integration. That would make "floater woman" stressed and upset for me, but would also render her even more ineffective in achieving my integration into any of the groups of two. I would end up stressed out for HER as she tried so hard to do what I could not do for myself.
As I pondered that old invitation I had been so relieved to turn down I began to realize I would have been facing a similar situation this weekend. I never used to care much about that sort of thing, but I am feeling old and tired and vulnerable and kind of "between friends" right now as I am only starting to meet and get to know the people in our new city. I am not certain I would have the maturity myself to deal with a similar situation just at this time.
Funny the things a person remembers sometimes isn't it? The emotions old memories can trigger can serve as a good warning on occasion; a warning to be careful not to set myself up for social situations I prefer to avoid. It is interesting how an initial feeling of disappointment can turn so rapidly to one of relief and gratitude that a bullet has actually been dodged. When I am in a more secure social position myself I will not have any qualms about joining into such groups, the old secure me will reassert herself, but for now I want to protect myself for awhile yet.