It was several years ago that I saw a counselor on a regular basis. I remember she had encouraged me to do things on my own. I spent so much time doing things with my mom and sisters growing up, that I really didn’t know myself. I didn’t have my own interests because my interests were their interests. I had things that I liked of course, and friends who also liked the same things I liked but nothing that was really mine.
My type of personality is typically the kind where I would pull into an empty parking lot or am meeting with a friend and I would be the first one there, I’d sit and wait until other people went in first or my friend got there. I certainly didn’t want to be the first person. Can anyone else relate to that? You try and find someone to ride with to a place, even if its inconvenient, because you don’t want to walk through the doors alone. I wasn’t comfortable being by myself alone. I didn’t really even like me, I needed someone else to buffer the part of me that I didn’t like. Certainly my friend would be the more outgoing, thoughtful and fun one. I was just the sidekick. Always and forever the sidekick friend.
Prior to doing this, she had asked me what my hobbies were. My only response was shopping. She told me that wasn’t a hobby. First off, I’m a girl so yes shopping is a hobby. Right? Wrong. For me, it was a way to distract myself from the things I should have been dealing with. Shopping was a way to avoid reality. It became my escape. It wasn’t a hobby, it was an addiction. There was a point in my life that things were spiraling out of my control and the only thing I could control was shopping. I didn’t have to feel. I just had to do. Of course these shoes would make me happy! I don’t have money for these sheets but they’re on sale and they bring me joy. I started hiding things that I was buying because I felt shame in the joy I found. I didn’t want to be judged for it, so I hid it.
So here I was eating dinner by myself at an Applebee’s at rush hour dinner time. Dozens of people in groups. I was seated at one of those crazy small tables with 2 chairs. You know the ones that are really a waste of space because you have to tuck in your elbows every time someone walks by. I was at the wasted space table. One of the most awkward feelings. Who is going to see me? What will they think? Why am I doing this, I feel so dumb. What was I going to eat? When you go out with a group of people, you certainly cannot make your decision on what to order until you’ve evaluated everyone else’s choice before choosing your own. How would I know what to get if I didn’t have someone at the table to ask them what they were going to eat? I had to make a choice for myself.
As I finished my dinner and have a great one sided conversation in my head, I realized that I survived! I made it out on the other side and actually enjoyed it. My biggest worry was what would other people think, but in reality I was thankful to be in a space where I didn’t have to be anything to anybody. I was able to be myself.
She had me in several uncomfortable situations over our time together but in the end, they helped me understand myself as a person better. I started to let go of the feeling that I needed fulfillment from other things and I started realizing that if I couldn’t eat alone with myself and feel happy, how was I to eat with other people and make them feel happy?
Now as a mom of 4, I love to have dinner out with my husband but if that cannot happen, I’m perfectly ok with sitting at a crazy small table alone and enjoying a meal I didn’t have to make or clean up after.
This was how God showed up before I even knew Him. He worked on helping me feel whole. He sprinkled in little events that helped me realize that I didn’t have to be dependent on other people or things to feel fulfilled. His presence was enough.