I’ll never be Norm

I have friends now. This fact should be comforting, but it often cause me great distress as I navigate unchartered territory.

I’ll never look forward to joining my friends and living at the bar with them. Although they do often shout my name happily-I will never be Norm. (From cheers in case you are not in US)

One friend planned a surprise birthday party for another friend and invited me and many others in her friend circle. I was happy to get invited, really happy. I made arrangements for kiddos to go to MIL so Hubby and I could both attend.

As the date drew near though, the typical inner hell began to plague me with questions and doubt and anxiety.

What should I wear? Does my hair need colored? Should I get a gift, and what kind of gift? What if I’m late? What if I wear the wrong thing? How late do I need to stay? Am I expected to know something that I won’t know? Will I look like a hermit or a psycho if I don’t know the latest news? What if I don’t recognize someone I have met before?

It was planned to be at a wine bar. OK good, I like wine.

The wine bar is a bit fancier than the bar we usually hang out in, and this friend always makes a fashion statement. so I decide I need some new clothes. All of my dress pants are too tight (curves has given me a bigger waist so far, but not panicking yet, as my metabolism adjusts and I get stronger. It must be muscle it must be muscle. Acually I think I’ve been wearing my sweats and baggies and have not tried to wear dress pants in about a year. Lots can happen in a year) and all my jeans have holes in them or paint splatters. Hubby decides he wants to go shopping with me and get new jeans too. I am annoyed by this but not sure why.

I tell hubby I am feeling anxious and irrationally worried. I tell him I want to stay home. I tell him I don’t feel good enough and I want new clothes but I also don’t feel good enough to deserve spending the money. The last time I bought a new blouse was well over a year ago. And for craps sake I am shopping at jcpenneys. Not nieman marcus.

So there I am. Feeling fat, frumpy, dumpy, cheap and wasteful simultaneously, anxious about being late yet too anxious to make quick decisons.

I look up the wine bar online and check out th
Scene and what people wear. Yup. Def cater to business woman with taste and money. I dont have either.

We arrive at the mall with only 2 hours until go time. I get angry. Now I am afraid I will find nothing and will also be late to the party and ruin the surprise, or miss the surprise if not entirely ruin it. I am angry at hubby for working this morning though I could have gone shopping at any point in the last 3 weeks since getting the invite.

I send hubby to look over there to look for jeans and get annoyed when I have to say my size out loud. I hate my size and pretend I am shopping for my fat aunt. I get the large and am disgusted how my belly pushes the fabric.I get a larger size. Then I want to ask hubby something and he isn’t back yet. I get angry that he didn’t look at anything on his way over there, so we have to walk back to see what is there. I mean really, he should have memorized every item by walking through, right?

I see nothing at the first department store and panic, making me see nothing. I want something cute but not sexy, pretty but not fancy, like business casual, like I care but not too much. And nothing too loud, but also not too plain. I keep seeing crops and capris, and no jeans in sight. I scold myself for not knowing this was the wrong time of year to shop for jeans. I like the capris but it is a very cool day and I already have nice capris.

we go to the other end of the mall, and find nothing there either, but because everything there started at $44. for a t-shirt. sorry no can do. I tried on 6 different pairs of jeans, all the same size, and they ranged from barely making up to my knees to being so baggy I could do Hammer Time. Why don’t they use measurements in women’s clothing like they do in men’s? Now I start hating clothing manufacturers too.

I get upset and yell at hubby that we shouldnt be at a mall.

He asks me why I’m yelling at him. I yell some more and tell him i already explained that I would and I know it doesn’t make sense but I’m scared and angry right now.

Telling him how I feel made it seem normal. I was still fat and had nothing to wear but I was feeling less like a freak.

We go back to the first store and really start looking this time. None of those clothes were there 10 minutes ago. Really. I see clearance racks full of all kinds of cute items. I find my jeans, a bit stretchy to make them soft and comfy but not too much. I find a cute blouse, black and white so I can mix/match easily. A pushy sales lady tries to convince me I really do like this skirt that I attempt to put back on the rack, and I keep saying thank you, that’s ok, I’m fine. ratio of sales ladies to shoppers is 4:1 and I go into evasive action and avoid eye contact.

Now I panic again and feel selfish. I spent all this time shopping for my own clothes and did not get a gift for the birthday girl. This is all Hubby’s fault. Why didn’t he look for a gift while I was trying on clothes? I get angry and sweaty. He looks scared, but he says he saw some pretty jewelry over there . . .Yes! of course! My dancer friends love big jewelry. I pick out a pretty silver bracelet with concentric squares, also on clearance. Woot!

So we get my jeans and blouse, 2 pairs of jeans for hubby, a polo for hubby, and a bracelet for $100. I am extremely happy for about 2 seconds.

I see the time. We are supposed to be leaving home, not leaving the mall at this time. We’re going to be late. I hold back vomit and get blurry vision.

We rush home, I take a college shower, get changed, quick makeup and hair brushing. Hubby prepares gift while I get ready (I didn’t even ask him to! he is thinking efficiently now! I am happy for another 2 seconds.)

Do I wear cute summer shoes? How far do we need to walk? my cute shoes make my limp stand out and I usually lose a shoe with slightly less than Cinderella-like elegance. If I walk slowly and not too far, I can wear cute shoes. But I can’t find the cute ones, so sensible it is.

We arrive at the wine bar 10 minutes later than I wanted to, but before the birthday girl! I am so happy! for 2 seconds. Everyone else is there, and they expect hugs. I make the rounds of awkward hugs – I don’t think I will ever enjoy that – and see the only open seats are next to people that I don’t know. Gulp. So thankful hubby came along so I don’t have to pretend to play with my phone.

Birthday girl arrives, is completely surprised to see so many of her friends there and squeals in delight as she opens her cards and gifts. She loves the bracelet and puts it on right away. I get extra hugs. I am happy that I made her happy and shared this moment with her. And then I don’t know what to do or say. Everyone is chatting and laughing and I have nothing to say. I’m not interested in what I overhear, and pretend to laugh when everyone else does although nothing seemed funny to me. I check my face often to make sure I am smiling – because parties are fun, dammit!

We order tons of wine, which helps some, and we order an amazing dinner, which helped a bunch, and then I counted the minutes to when it was too early to ditch. I caught up with everyone I already knew (Yes the new job is going well, yes the kids are happy school is almost over, did you hear from that guy you liked, I really like your shoes, blah blah blah on and on), met new people (oh you’ve know her since high school, how great, oh you have a job too? how great, oh you have kids too? how great, oh we have so much in common being human and all and friends with the same person, wow)

I admire the metal ceiling and read the wine list a hundred times. I admire the artwork. I see everyone laugh so I join in again.

I really do like people, and care about them. I just don’t understand what is supposed to be fun about ‘hanging out’.


2 thoughts on “I’ll never be Norm

  1. Can I share a secret with you? Neither do I, so usually I don’t do it. Simple, show up hand over the gift (if required), hug and kiss on cheek. Have a glass of wine then make your excuses. It works every single time.

  2. Sigh… preview of the coming weekend. I pray I make it through with as much grace. I’m so proud of you for every little victory, every little happiness. You accomplished so much without completely melting down. Go you!

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