A long-time friend wrote to tell me she’s been enjoying my posts about my new house, and spoke with awe about the success of my new life. Then she said she was going to make attendance at community events in her area more of a priority. I had to laugh at this, because I am doing the opposite — making community events less of a priority.
When I moved here, I made a concerted effort to be . . . not me. At least, not my usual semi-hermit self. I knew I had to do something to keep my concern about stagnating from becoming a reality. To that end, I said yes to every invitation, took every opportunity to attend community events, joined every group that expressed an interest in me, even played games — a couple of times at the library, most often at the senior center. (If you knew how little I like games, except perhaps the solitaire kind that keeps my mind occupied while I think, you would understand how big a concession this was.)
In the last couple of months, things have changed. Or perhaps it is I who have changed, reverting to my stay-away-from-crowds inclination. (I do best one on one. Being with two or three is acceptable, especially if the others are congenial, but more than that tends to overwhelm me.)
Although I did set out to get involved, I never actually set out to get uninvolved. It just happened. Any time someone ignored me, asked for one thing more than I was willing to give, said something that hit me the wrong way (or even the right way), it stopped me cold, breaking whatever momentum of sociability I’d built up. None of these things were important. None of these things hurt beyond the moment. None of them were things I couldn’t have easily shrugged off. But all of them, in that stopped moment, made me wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”
And so, the life I had built for myself slowly disintegrated. Well, not my life — that’s still intact, along with all the friends I’ve made — but my scheduled life is disappearing. I’ll keep up with a few things — Art Guild, the strategic planning sessions, and maybe an occasional potluck or other activity, but everything else that’s been a regularly scheduled event seems to have been wiped from my calendar.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with this newly unscheduled life. Exercise more, eat better, and try to lose the weight I gained by going to all those community events, of course. Visits and excursions with friends, I hope. But beyond that, I don’t know. (I suppose it’s possible — vaguely possible — that I’ll start writing a new book.)
It seems fitting, in a way, that this change is taking place now. The first anniversary of when I bought my house is two weeks away. A lot has happened in the past year. I’m sure a lot more will happen in the coming months, though I don’t know — can’t know — what. More hermitting? More socializing? More scheduling? Walking back to functions I’ve walked away from?
Since I can’t even guess who or what I will be, how I will change, or how I will feel, I’ll just have to wait to see how the future unfolds and trust that it will be good for me.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator