The Unseen Imprint

The other day, I was in this big funk at work.

Not because of anything, really.

It all came down to the fact that I wasn't getting invited to eat lunch with some of the others who take lunch at the same time. I was feeling very left out, and it hurt. I sat there, in the kitchen/lunch room, which overlooks the picnic tables outside, and I watched as six or more staff sat out there, enjoying each other's company. And here I sat, alone. It's almost as if I was playing out a sort of self-torture, a sado-masochistic ritual.

Now, I know I'm a grown-up (well, I think I am), and I know it probably just looked that way, but I couldn't help feeling the way I felt, and the pain it caused. And all because a couple of people (one of them the person who is training me) are too rude or self-centred to think about anyone but themselves.

And then I wonder why some people just seem to fit in effortlessly, get invited into all the group events, are part of the "crowd", and everything just seems so damn peachy keen for them. And why can't I ever be one of them?

I get it. It's not about me. I know. But we all know where these things come from, these feelings of ostracism, of being an outcast. I have never felt like I belonged. Anywhere. With anyone. For instance, it took me many years, and many therapy sessions, to accept that Mr. Handsome was my friend and not my enemy, out to get me. Belonging is a deep human need, I suppose. We all feel it, need it. But I've never quite been able to deal with it in a positive way, and go with the flow. Instead, I put a negative spin on it very quickly, instead of allowing it to grow and see how things play out. To know me, you would never say I am a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal, but in some ways, I very much am.

I blame it on my childhood. And that's not something you can just change. What's done is done.

Because when I sit down and really think about it, it always seems to come back to that. To the fact that I was very much alone for much of my childhood. I was not like most of the other kids, neither in looks or intellect. I kept very much to myself, was painfully shy and private, and was going through a personal hell at home most kids my age wouldn't have understood. Instead of providing comfort, they pointed at me and laughed, as children do.

Of course, I also didn't have any support at home. My mother wasn't available emotionally or physically, and was physically and mentally abusive toward my older brother and me, and my dad worked and just didn't deal much with silly children's issues. I was on my own. And I dealt with it in the only way I knew how: by clamming up, getting very sad, keeping it all inside, and ultimately blaming myself.

So, when all this happened last week at the office, I called Mr. Handsome and told him, on the verge of tears. I felt so alone.

And Mr. Handsome, as he always does, put me back on the right path, by reminding me that I was an adult and needed to deal with it as an adult.

"So, invite yourself along," he said. "Or, better yet, ask someone to go to lunch with you."

It was that simple. For him. For many people.

And although it is that simple, it also isn't. Because when you grow up feeling unloved, and different, you tend to put up very strong and solid barriers that do not come down easily, no matter how hard you kick and punch. Tendrils of memories keep reaching out from the past to quickly tweak you and remind you to be careful, to not trust. To remind you that no one likes you, so keep your distance before you get hurt.

I'm over it now (sort of). It was a rough couple of days. Couple that with some challenging hours on the phone dealing with irate people, and a uterus that won't stop revolting, and you start to see where I was coming from.

It also reminded me of the amazingly strong and perpetual imprint our childhoods make on us, and often unknowingly. Scary thought.

Reminds me to hug my kids a little more, and tell them one more time that I love them.


My what an interesting blog, I do feel for you, one's childhood should be full of fun, but unfortunately there are exceptions to the rule. It's hard to erase something deep rooted but you are strong and you are giving your children all the hugs and love that you didn't get, they will look back on their childhood with fond memories. Good Luck.

Anonymous said…
I totally get what you are saying. I have huge walls that were built in my childhood....

If I could, I would eat lunch with you : ) We would have a great time and make everyone else jealous!
Megryansmom said…
I can totally relate to this. Sometimes it's the littlest thing that just pushes you over the edge when dealing with a bigger problem. Keep your chin up Mary, there are better days ahead.
Anonymous said…
I spent a lot of my youth taking care of a very ill mom, and then when I did hang out with "the kids" I was often painfully different(living an adult life already) than them. After my Mother passed(I was 20) I seemed 40 to a lot of people my age, and again it was awkward. I was NOT the one invited to the lunch(like you), I can assure you. It all turned around for me in my 30s though, I changed some things, some things changed me, and I was more social. Now, by choice, I am less social!

Life is a very strange roller coaster, but I've found the most important thing is that I like my company. ~Mary
Gaston Studio said…
Yes, our childhood is in our past but when you come from an abusive environment, it's really hard to 'just let it go.' When you feel unworthy, it's very hard to consider that others will ever like you. Going home and loving your children and husband is probably the best thing you can do; then tomorrow, try to invite yourself along.
Kim Mailhot said…
I hear you...that feeling of "unbelonging" sucks ! I have felt it so strongly many times in my own life.

Here's a thought though...
What if someone else in the office has those feelings too and when you ask them to lunch you unknowingly help them out of a major funk.


what would you encourage your kids to do if they were feeling the same way ? Imagine the example you provide by facing up to those sucky fears and going for it ?

Easier to say than to do, I know...
just some thoughts... for you and for me..
here's to the places we do belong !
♥Trina♥ said…
I didn't have an abusive childhood by any means, but there was an event in my life that "scarred" me to an extent. I even thought about blogging about it. To an extent, it affects me still today, 40 years after the fact.
Sometimes, ironically, once you start getting included in the group you end up finding out that they are in fact quite uninteresting and you wish you were eating alone again in blissful silence.
Ewa said…
I can very much relate to this. When I was younger I always felt like an outkast and felt lucky whenever I was allowed to join in. This has changed over time, but I'm sometimes caught up by these old feelings of not belonging anywhere.

You write that this isn't about you, but I have to disagree. These feelings of not fitting in come from within yourself. I am willing to bet that the people sitting outside neither wanted or knew that they hurt you. You have to feel worthy and take what you want to be yours. Don't rely on other people doing that for you.

Some days are just tougher than others.
Momisodes said…
I cannot even begin to describe how much I can relate to this post. I can maybe point out once in my entire life where I felt as if I fit in. I think I was 5. But like you, I attribute this to my childhood. It really is difficult to undo the lasting effects of that.
Anonymous said…
Mary, I totally get that it's not just as simple as inviting yourself to sit with them or inviting someone to sit with you. Childhood scars cannot just be shaken off like a few rain drops off your coat. Anyone who says to just do that is over-simplifying and doesn't understand what it's like to be inside YOUR skin, YOUR head. I like what Mary of FrankAndMary said about liking her own company. I would suggest that for now, learn to be your own best friend, read a book at lunch or go for a walk. And the next time a new person starts at your company--during those first days when she is feeling shy and unsure--maybe you could be the first to offer to show her around and sit with her at lunch.
ReformingGeek said…
I know what you mean about people that seem to fit in effortlessly. I've always struggled with being shy. As I child, mom was very supportive but I didn't naturally fit in and I made good grades. Most kids were jealous of me and I got grief over that.

But, yeah. It's not about you. Most people are so focused on their own needs and routines that they forget how to reach out. Hang in there!
Michel said…
Dude! I freak out EVERYTIME I go to a new Embassy posting - NOT because its Sudan or Pakistan and the terrorist threat is high - but because I'm TERRIFIED that nobody will want to eat lunch with me.

I totally feel your pain! However, I'll totally eat lunch with you if/when I get posted to the embassy in Ottawa. Deal?!
Debbie said…
It is so hard to feel left out. I don't think we ever outgrow that feeling of sadness.
ModernMom said…
Ohh. you know what else. Men. Men don't dwell on these types of things. What I hated the most about highschool was the dreaded cafeteria. Would there be someone to eat with? Trying to fit in. Sadly some women never grow up..they are still sitting back there at the caf.
Lisa said…
That baggage we drag along can really affect the way we deal with people and how we view ourselves.

I was in a similar situation at one place where I worked. I ate at my desk and surfed the internet or read and my coworkers, who'd known each other for a long time before I got there, were wave to me on their way out to lunch. It stung.

Finally, one day I emailed someone who would come sit in my office and chat with me. I asked him if he'd like to go to lunch the next day. He wrote back that he was going out with the others, but would I care to join them? It was nice to be invited. I had fun, but I didn't get invited every time. I chalked it up to cliquishness. Sometimes the old crowd wanted to gossip and I guess since I was new, they didn't think they could trust me to keep their work-griping secrets.

Lesson learned: Always take a book in case I had to eat alone.
Anonymous said…
If I could I would eat lunch with you every day.

lots of love and hugs (((Mary)))
JJ Keith said…
I totally relate to this. I'll never really know if I became such an antisocial adult because I was a lonely kid, or if I was a lonely kid because I'm intrinsically antisocial. I wonder all the time if it it possible to foster greater sociability in my daughter. Chin up. I'd have lunch with you too.
Oh Mary! YOu are so funny and witty...when people come to realize that they invites will come pouring in for lunch! Right now, you're just the new kid on the block!
Just invite them right now. Be receptive...they will love you for it.
I hope by now things are better. I've been on a blogcation for the past week or so!

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