The meeting was just about to start and I was feeling out of place as I took a place at the table.
I looked around from face to face, from left to right and was greeted warmly with smiles and nods, as if to say, “you are welcome here” without a word having to be spoken.
I nodded back, smiled in kind and hoped my ‘calm’ demeanor and practiced façade didn’t give away the chaos running through my mind and the ‘fight to flight’.
Here (there) I sat, (on) and with all of these feelings; fear, anger, anxiety (pick a feeling and I’m sure I was feeling it).
What I was ‘feeling’ was that I was behaving (thinking) alittle like an ass (well, a lot actually) and wondering where I ‘got off’ thinking so much of myself.
As the saying goes in ‘another room’-“I was the piece of shit that the world revolves around”.
And why did I think I was so ‘different’ (read-special) anyway?….Because I was (what?) male? An “Artist”? Black?
What right did I have to think that my experience(s) were any more unique than theirs as I took a seat and hoped there was room enough on the chair for my ass and my arrogance.
Did the preponderance of ‘non’ natural fibers and elastic waistbands in their clothes (compared to the 100% imported cotton of my clothes) make their lives any less valid?
And what the shit difference did it make anyway?
The women had assembled together (or so it seemed) in solidarity to bond over a shared common experience and there I was, not joining in but judging them, based solely on appearances and whatever stereotypes I could project onto them, for no other reason than to separate myself from ‘them’ and the feelings that ‘they’ might illicit if I opened up and revealed that part of myself that I’d shared with no one really because I didn’t think they (my family and friends) would understand what I was going through, but, in this room that wasn’t the case, we were all caregivers.
I was making snap decisions about an entire room full of people before anyone had even opened their mouths’ to speak.
This did not portend good things to come (for me anyway-they all seemed fine).
What it did say was that my insecurity(ies) about (potentially) making myself vulnerable and exposing myself to a room full of strangers had sent my defenses into overdrive, so I lashed out (in my mind anyway) as a way to protect myself from their (perceived, anticipated) judgment by judging them first.
In truth this wasn’t some “Sex and the City” Kaffeklatch of gossips at some chic Manhattan restaurant after a day of light shopping.
No, this was a gathering of very real people (women) whose purpose was talking about the lives they were living, as they shared their stories about caring for their loved ones day in and day out while seeking comfort and support from kindred souls, coming together as a way to lift some of the darkness of feeling alone.