A Poignant Reminder

Today I tried really hard to be a part of the 8th grade promotion festivities, both student and staff oriented. My part time schedule has made me so isolated this year, I’ve literally missed every single staff event, even the free PTA-provided lunches. So today I set things up so I could go to graduation, and then dinner with the staff and then the dance. It was supposed to be a really good time.

Isa and I got to promotion late because she slept for a while. That was fine, we missed them reading the names but we heard all the speeches. Then all the staff high-tailed it out of there super fast to beat traffic and make it to dinner. I had to drop Isa off with my mom and move the (still vomit covered) car seat into her car, where I needed to set it up and get my less-than-impressed daughter bucked in. By the time I got back to my car traffic was bad and it took me forever to get to dinner. I had a lone seat at the end of the table where almost no one talked to me.

One the way back to the dance I offered my front seat to one of the five women who had all piled into another woman’s car to get there. Not one of them wanted to come with me. It was the most awkward moment, having offered a space in my car and having them all tell me, “no it’s fine.” So they all walked away together and I sulked to my car alone. It was then I realized I don’t have any friends at my work anymore. Not one. It was a chilling realization.

I used to have friends at work. Some of them were good friends. A few moved away, a few drifted away. I used to actually be friends with that woman who cried and called me a bitch last week, but she was obviously annoyed with my when I was pregnant and we’ve never really been friends since. So now I have no friends. There are a lot of reasons for this, most noteably my part-time schedule and the fact that I live in the city. Those two things, coupled with my need to get home to be with my daughter have made me somewhat of a social pariah at work. I can’t stay for social events and friendships are formed without me there. I can’t blame anyone for it, it’s just what happens.

Tonight was a really sad reminder of how difficult it is to have my life divided between two far away places. Living in the city and working 30-45 minutes away is tough. It’s tough to have half you life, and the people in it, in one place and the other half in another. Having my parents live near where I work helps, but also makes the divide that much stronger. It’s a situation I don’t want to stay in forever, and I’m relieved I’m feeling so ready to close that chapter of my life when the time is right.

My mom just came in and talked to me about friendships and work and all manner of philosophical things. She understands so many of the situations I’m in because she’s in them too, or has been at one point or another. It was so nice and I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am, even when parts of my life leave much to be desired.

Tomorrow is the end-of-the-year staff party. I had plans to go, and I suppose I will. The only way to combat isolation is to show up at stuff, right? I could only handle the dance for 45 minutes, I just couldn’t stay any longer after that embarrassing fiasco leaving dinner. I suppose I should show up tomorrow. It’s the mature thing to do.

I just gotta get through this week to next Tuesday. Next Tuesday Ben’s friends will be back in San Diego, I’ll for sure but done packing my room, a temperature drop will have confirmed my suspicions that this month is a bust and I’ll be starting my first writing class, something I’m trying my best to look forward to.

Six more days. I can do this.

4 responses

  1. Uhg, I’m so sorry. I’m not impressed by your colleagues who made that an awkward scene. It sounds like a cliquey school. That’s hard.

  2. Yes you can. Six days is nothing!
    I’m so sorry you feel so isolated, but remember that this kin of treatment at their hands reflects poorly on THEM, not on you.

  3. That sounds like an upsetting situation but it could be just that – one situation. It is possible that they had been talking and in the middle of someone telling a story the others wanted to hear the end of. Maybe they had left their tote bags in the car and needed to get them. Maybe they have a habit of going places together and it just felt normal and easier for them to all hop in the car. It wasn’t particularly thoughtful of them but it doesn’t mean they don’t like you or that you don’t have friends.

    In a chapter of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard that I’m reading for grad school right now it talks about a psychologist Lee Ross’ study that showed people “have a systematic tendency to ignore the situational forces that shape other people’s behavior”. We make snap decisions “they are a bad driver” or “they are not my friends” based on the way they are acting, when how they act is actually hugely influenced by situational factors.

    Friendships take work. If you get in the habit of making small efforts to be friendly in new ways beyond what you already do (like showing up today) it could start to change the dynamics. You could even make a point to ask them earlier in the day if they are going and make a point to say you are going since you have the rare opportunity to hang out socially with people and are looking forward to it. Also – be sure to ask them questions and make a renewed effort to find things you have in common with them. Try not to focus on the distances (literal and figurative).

    Hang in there- that is not a good feeling!! I hope you’re able to push through it.


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