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Crazy Small Tables Are A Good Thing

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.

The counselor told me to go out to eat by myself. During dinner time. When everyone was typically with someone. I was to go and have a dinner by myself. That sounded AWFUL! Why? Nobody does that. Everyone has someone, why would I have to go alone.

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.


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