Month for Loki #7: Sociable.
So I was laying on the bed last night, full of Fireball whiskey, and watching a spider make its way deftly across the ceiling.
I had just returned from a party, a Saturday barbecue, and as I lay there, I was thinking about Loki.
I was also thinking about how the party and all of the aspects of the party that had a Lokean stamp to them:
There was a prodigious variety of alcoholic beverages, much barbecuing of meat (seafood being the only meat that, surprisingly, wasn’t being grilled), multiple side vegetable and pasta dishes that, strangely enough, prominently featured bacon as a garnish, and of course, the dessert table was full of cake, chocolate, and various incarnations of alcohol infused cake and chocolate…and perhaps, even bacon, too.
I also noticed much revelry around me that Loki would have likely much appreciated: there was much dancing, singing, laughter, and argument that was rife with flirtatious wit and sexual innuendo between damned near everyone there.
(I was told these gatherings often ended with skinny-dipping and various poly folks sometimes coupling up into an inevitable sleepover until the next morning… though I left shortly after midnight, so I didn’t participate in that aspect of the festivities, actually.)
Nonetheless, I drifted off to sleep in my bed, with a drunken singalong rendition of “Shake Your Ass For Me” looping endlessly in my brain.
I was exhausted.
So what is my offering for Loki here?
I can be a socially anxious misanthrope.
Going to such a party as I’d attended last night often makes an exhausted wreck of me. One would not probably notice, but even if it is a party attended by people that I know and want to see/hang with, I still find myself making last-minute excuses not to attend such gatherings…or attending, and being a quiet, unassuming wallflower, nursing a tepid, weakly alcoholic beverage, and pushing down all the little anxieties that endless crop up in my brain, as people approach me. I nod and smile, and feeling like an anxious fraud — inwardly wondering, am I doing this right? Am I being sociable enough? Am I talking too much/enough?
Even though these are dear, beloved friends of mine greeting and embracing me at the door; these are folks that I’ve known for years talking to me. We are catching up on what has happened since we’ve seen each other last week, last month, last year. Sometimes, I find myself introducing myself to their partners, their friends, their acquaintances: “Do you know?…Oh, so nice to meet you!..I am….”
But there is inward self-talk going on, a pep talk if you will, as I reach out to each person, and it occurs often enough to run in the background of most of my social interactions with others at a crowded gathering of people.
I will be in the presence of friends. I am in the presence of friends….That is what I say to myself as I am preparing to go to such a gathering. Sometimes, I even find myself inwardly chanting this as I stand on the front step, just moments before I enter a friends’ home.
And, of course, that chant is after I’ve confronted the concept, at least once, of Not Going. It’s guaranteed that I’ve previously run through that script (the litany of Reasons Not to Go) at least once before any social interaction, no matter how small, or how much I’ve planned, or even looked forward to the interaction.
And so, I attended this gathering, as I do all large gatherings featuring people and food and music, and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. To interact, to laugh, to allow myself to enjoy myself.
I deny myself this way. This is one of the ways that I’ve told myself that I don’t need. I don’t Need to Go. Do I? I convince myself that I have reasons not to. So much easier not to engage. It might be emotionally easier to do this some other time. I make myself uncomfortable, I convince myself that Socializing Today is Something that I Cannot Do Today. I will see my friends some other day. I don’t need to see (insert name of friend) today.
But, then inevitably, I have always felt that nudge: Oh yes. Yes you do. Go.
If I have gotten far enough in my head to get there, then I might be telling myself, I don’t need again.
I don’t need to talk.
I don’t need to dance.
I don’t need to have a piece of cake.
I don’t need to participate. To talk, to dance, to eat a piece of cake requires opening up to participating in a party; it is the essence of a social experience, is it not? It is social interaction like talking, eating, dancing that makes a party.
So, there I am, at the party. I might have been talking. I might even be holding a plate of food. And if I have gotten that far, I might even be wondering as to whether or not I am enjoying myself. I try not to think about it.
I don’t need to enjoy.
And the nudging again, last night, always, to stop checking myself, to stop telling myself of what I need or do not need…
It’s OK to enjoy. Just relax.
Thankfully, last night, I got far enough out of my own head enough to socialize with some dear friends. I even introduced myself to a few new people. I ate some delicious barbecue, and drank some whiskey. I watched as some other acquaintances danced and flirted. I laughed and I shared a few stories. I might have even flirted a little. I sang along to the songs I knew.
All good, enjoyable interactions.
But…No, I did not dance. Perhaps some other time.
I laughed. I ate and drank and sang.
I interacted. I enjoyed.
That was enough for me. That was enough for last night, anyway.
Perhaps I will dance with my friends another time. Dancing at a party is a little bit beyond my comfort level, I think to myself.
But maybe it will not seem as far next time, I wonder.
There’s comfort in next time.
Hail Loki, pusher of boundaries. I will dance, next time. Next time.