In the past, I used to try to socialize more. My oldest is very outgoing, and when she was 4-years-old, I felt guilty about being such a retiring introvert. Unfortunately, at that age, her social circle was my social circle, so I decided to put myself out there and see about those mom groups. The neighbor who was heavily involved in them seemed to be an okay person (I found out later that she was duplicitous AF), so I thought it would be a safe bet with at least one other “friend” already there.
At 22, I had danced naked in a forest during a thunderstorm (there was no chance of anyone else being around to see me), and I had felt magnificently connected to all of the elements of the Earth. I can still vividly remember the dark clouds overhead, the pink flash of lightning, the prickle of goosebumps in the cold rain, and the elation of nature and magic. I felt that I could never be struck down.
At 28, I was shrinking into myself, feeling hopelessly like an outsider around my peers, small and insignificant in their eyes. In turn, I found them to be boring, controlling, and generally unpleasant, and I was miserable around them. I hated being there. Hated being the only mom who carried my baby in my arms instead of hauling around a car seat, and the defensive reactions I got when I simply commented that it was because I thought car seats were cumbersome. Seemingly, everything about me was not only wrong, but actively offensive.
As much as I admire the stereotype of the self-sacrificing mother, there’s a huge difference between sharing my last bite of brownie and selling my soul to fit in. I have my limits.
Shortly after I quit, it filtered back to me that they had all been calling me a “doormat” behind my back. Um, what? I’m supposed to prove that I’m not a doormat by . . . abandoning my natural personality to become what someone else thinks I should be instead? No thank you, I’d much rather be a doormat; there’s more dignity in it.
No matter how others try to cajole or criticize me, I stubbornly stick to what I am. Why? Because I remember how it felt to dance with the wind and rain as the thunder kept the beat. Because I actually look at my peers, dressed in unflattering leggings with their hair tied on the very top of their heads like Teletubbies, and I know that I could never in a million years take myself seriously if I looked like that. Because my Jupiter is in Aries, so I need to be an uncompromising individualist in everything I do. Because I know what makes me happy, and what doesn’t.
As for my oldest, I adore the way she naturally is, and I don’t want her to learn to sacrifice her personality to have fake friends. It would break my heart if I lost her like that.
As a writer, experiences like that always get filed away in the back of my mind, along with all of the emotion and aftermath, to reappear as overarching themes in my stories.