Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reaching out

I had an epiphany today. (Oooh, scary!) I realized I haven't had any company over, other than family, in nearly two years! In that two years, the state of my house has gone downhill a lot. I finally drew a bit of a connection.

A few years ago (4 or 5), I was a good housekeeper. No, make that a great one. No clutter, no dirt...spotless. Like, almost OCD spotless. Then I went through a series of rejections to invitations to come over. Some people would say yes, then call and cancel the day of, and I would find out later it was because they got a "better offer" with their clique. I threw candle parties and scrapbooking parties, and even those who said they'd come would flake and nobody showed. That happened twice in a year. Finally, embittered, defeated, and wounded, I severed virtually all ties with those people and stopped having people over altogether. My house fell apart.

My house never fully recovered, but I began to heal from that hurt. Still, it was scary to put myself out there again at the risk of rejection. Reliving all the let-down just induced too much anxiety. And as I severed ties with an entire network of people, I lost almost all my "friends." (Using that term lightly because real friends don't do that kind of stuff.) Feeling alone, I just quit trying. Maybe one person/family a year.

The thing is, I am not a reclusive person. I am pretty social, and I love, love, LOVE to entertain. Seriously, I think one of my God-given ministries is the food ministry, as corny as that sounds. I love blessing people by cooking for them and serving them food, letting them take a break from their cooking, and I enjoy spending time with people. I really do.

So my epiphany is, even though I'm a social person, I gave up. I gave up on having people over because I gave up on trying to connect with people out of rejection. I didn't want to invite insincere "friends" over, and I was too scared to take a chance and invite someone who might ultimately hurt me into my home. This is my sanctuary, and I shouldn't allow people to hurt me on my own turf. So I think I just gave up on keeping my house very clean because I just figured, "well, nobody's coming over anyway, so why should it matter." Ultimately, I let it go to have an excuse to shut people out of my house, and in doing so, keeping a wall up so that I didn't really have to get that close to people. The problem is, I've realized that having few "real" friends is pretty lonely.

Admittedly, I am not really one who reaches out to people in the first place. I never have been. Sadly, I think I am more of a "taker" in my friendships than a "giver." People have to extend themselves to me, invite me, plan an event...I don't generally take that initiative.

But something has to change. I'm not getting any younger, and I think turning 30 a few weeks ago has made me re-evaluate my life, my current happiness, and the direction in which I'm going. I'm not unhappy or going through life without purpose - far from it - but I know I can have, and deserve, more. And so do my kids.

I feel self-conscious even about my kids' friends coming over a lot of the time, so unless someone asks, I rarely extend the invite on their behalf. I always wanted to be the "cool, young mom" whom all my kids' friends loved, and wanted to have pretty much an open door policy here at our house, where their friends always felt welcome to drop in. Neither my husband nor I had that growing up, so its kind of a foreign concept to us, but its what I've always desired to be as a mom. But I am depriving my kids, their friends, and myself of that. My kids need to have that ability to have friends over too, and what I'm doing is unfair to them. I can choose to shut people out because I'm an adult. They're kids, and they deserve that right.

So here's my goal... Reach out to more people. Stop making excuses, let go of the past, get this house in order, and start inviting people over! Sure, the whole thing seems a little daunting, but nothing worth anything in life comes easily. The house needs a lot of work (and its still 100 years old and funky...even on a "good" day its no lap of luxury), but I know its doable. I just have to do it. And I can't spend my life shutting people out and keeping them at an arm's length. In the end, I'm the one who will end up alone and unhappy. And that's just not fair.'s to turning over a new leaf. And why did I blog about this? Because I think maybe having "witnesses," people to hold me to my word, may help me follow through. "May" being the key word. ;)

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