Yesterday I ventured out to a neighborhood cookout. It was my first "social event" since surgery, and it turned out to be a good deal more difficult than I had anticipated. Everyone was truly glad to see me, which was nice, and I was glad to see and talk to them.
The problem was, they all asked how I am doing, which posed quite a dilemma. Should I give them the truth and say, "shitty and depressed?" No, there must be something better... I settled on, "I'll be fine in the long run, but in the short run it's been difficult." Most people immediately changed the subject-it was clear they didn't want to know any details.
So I would brightly counter with, "How are you? How has your summer been?" Then nodded and smile as person after person told me all about their vacations and activities. A couple of people realized that the contrast between their summer and mine was large and petered off, embarrassed, but most just went on and on and on. It did give me the brief illusion of being part of the group, though. It was good to hear neighborhood news, but difficult to join in the conversation, because after the first 30 minutes I was feeling exhausted. Not surprising, since I am dehydrated, hungry, and stuck in a cycle of small problems which sometimes seen insurmountable.
Then the food came out. Everyone rushed off to get some except Rene, who has been kind enough not to eat in front of me. I told her to go ahead, that of course I knew I would have to be around people eating, so she, too, went off to load her plate. Everyone came back and began to eat and talk about how good stuff tasted and who made what...
...and it all became too much for me. I grabbed my oxygen tank, struggled out of my chair, said, brightly, "Well, I think I'd better head home before I'm too tired to walk! It was wonderful to see everyone" and walked across the lawn, past the pool, and out the gate to dead silence, while every person at the picnic watched me, even the children. After I turned the corner, I could hear voices start up again.
Now, I know this will not be my reaction forever, I have to learn to be around people who are celebrating with food, and eventually I will beable to eat some, too. But I felt so conspicuous and out of place that it was physically painful, and I was glad to get home to cry.
I record this, not as a pity party, but as my first attempt at regaining some small part of my life back. Life continues to be so diminished, that I need some hope for life in the future.