By Rebecca Barnes
I don’t like many people.
I don’t like many people.
It’s really bringing down my social life.
I think I’ve met too many people that are horrible and now I’m afraid of new people. I’m afraid of people I already know, too. I worry they don’t understand that I cannot possibly listen to their problems—big or small. I’m a crust of a person, who is still recovering from raising a traumatized child (and other heavy stuff). So I’m equally terrified people will submerge me in their heaviness or enrage me with their petty thoughts.
So you can see how this is an issue—particularly now that the pressure is on for me to join a small group to further my way following Jesus. Flatirons wants all of us to get involved in a group.
But I am wary of awkward conversations. I’m terrified of angry people. I’m on the defensive against outspoken opinions. And I’m leery of weirdos.
And there are other things: I resent people who don’t show up, because I work so hard to show up. I resent people who show up fake, or out of control (drunk, emotional, loud, grumpy, overly optimistic) because I work so hard to hold it together. I resent people who suck the life out of me with their drama. These people don’t seem to realize how bad life can actually be and what a waste of time it is to spend it complaining.
All of this is madness. I realize that. I know that even if I can’t live with people, I also can’t live without them. And connecting with people brings joy. And while people can bring pain, so can loneliness. So, riding along with all this madness is the idea of good friends. These are the people who make me feel like I belong on this planet.
But I’ve been doing without good friends for a long, dry season. It’s been a hard season too—which is sometimes the way things work. Tragedy strikes and most people back away, or I push them away with the fear that they won’t understand what’s going on with me. I try to back away from my own tragedy as well. I do that by turning inward.
It’s like the time I was shoved inside a locker in eighth grade. I needed someone to let me out. But at the same time it was embarrassing to be in there. And it was difficult to shout for help while I was sobbing.
In the thick of things around our house with our difficult kiddo it was hard to plan to be with people. It was challenging to schedule book club in between therapy sessions, court dates, and hospital visits. And even when I managed to show up to social gatherings, it was impossible to relate to women complaining about botched coffee orders.
So loneliness heaped on top of tragedy and trauma.
But now, things have shifted. Our trauma is moving behind us and in a post-apocalypse moment, I’m shuffling away from the smoldering wreckage and beginning to lift my dirty head and wonder if maybe I could make friends again.
I’ve met tolerable humans before. So I know that most of my ideas about how awful people are, are really my problems. I have to get over that. I have to turn outward. I have to start shouting, now that my tears have stopped rolling. I have to find somebody who will let me out of this locker. I need to let go of the shame that surrounds the tragedies I’ve dealt with, and forgive others and myself in order to move on. Sometimes I need to be alone to heal, but maybe it’s time to open myself up to others knowing I can’t control their reactions or judgments, or even my own sometimes. Then I have to find some people I can hang with and get to know. I have to find people who seem safe enough to tell my stories to. I have to find people whose stories I can hear.
You've heard us say, "we learn in rows and grow in circles." Help us kick-off this brand new season here at Lafayette and all our campuses. If you missed the group sign up event in the backyard of the District in Lafayette last Sunday, that's okay because August 18/19 and August 25/26, we will have a opportunities to meet leaders and sign up in the Lobby with the groups that are not quite full after each service. Or click here!
Rebecca Barnes is married to an amazing man, who encourages her faith and listens to her typing a lot. She has three daughters and a son-in-law. She loves to cook for anyone who likes good food, and she feels competitive about weeding her flower garden. She lives in Old Town Lafayette because it’s a little eclectic, like her.