I received an invitation from my neighbor to attend a sister-circle group. I reluctantly accepted. I hate groups, especially anything that feels “sister circle-y”, but I appreciated the invite. And after all, I was trying to make friends, so I accepted. I was attempting to be fair to myself and realize that just because I may not want to do something, doesn’t mean it can’t be an enriching experience. However, the whole time leading up to the event, I was dreading it. EVERY time I do something I don’t want to do, fearing I will be miserable, I’m right. I know what I know when I know.
I’d been exhausted from life and from work, getting up at the crack to be there by 7:30 in the morning, driving to what felt like the end of the earth every day. I had barely been able to stay awake and LIVED for the weekend when I could convalesce. I really wanted to cancel. Something just made me feel like I wasn’t going to enjoy the gathering, and that my time would be better spent in bed with coffee, a magazine and the Golden Girls. But it got to a point where cancelling without enough notice would have been rude. So I went, betraying everything in my gut that was telling me “hell no!”
As soon as I got to the woman’s apartment, which oddly enough was located minutes away from work – a long drive, I felt like I should about-face and go back to my place. I was immediately greeted by my neighbor, but that was the only time I felt welcomed.
I’d met some of these women once before, and hadn’t really connected with them. I betrayed my instinct, knowing that this crowd and this activity just wasn’t for me. I don’t enjoy sitting around talking about personal things with people I don’t know and have no connection to. And though I’m a woman of faith, I’m not particularly religious, and the group discussion was built around a scripture that was passed out to everyone before the talk. I hoped I wouldn’t come away regretting my decision to attend, but then, the very thing I feared happened.
There was an icebreaker. (Ugh!) It felt like one of those corporate team building exercises, which I abhor. I’m not antisocial, or have social anxiety but in certain situations, I just want to show up and observe.
The icebreaker consisted of being paired with another woman and you both sharing your first impressions of each other with the group. (I’d rather eat raw squid.) I felt a benign approach, talking about very trivial, surface observations would be best, but some just took it too far, and became amateur therapists.
A couple of women were told they looked unapproachable. Excuse me? Isn’t this a sister circle where people are supposed to feel supported? How does telling someone that basically, they look like a b*tch make them feel supported? I was absolutely dreading my turn. I KNEW something would be said that I felt was offensive, intrusive and unfair.
In the time leading up to my turn I began to feel the sensation of discomfort. My shoulders were tense and I felt like I wanted to bolt. They got to me and my partner who said a few things that were extremely intrusive, not to mention inaccurate. She said I was private. Ok, not bad, but not necessarily true. Then this chick told me I had a dark spirit or dark past or something that was preventing me from moving forward. She said I was afraid to shine. Now THAT was definitely insulting and out of line.
I immediately thought Who the f*ck do you think you are to say something so personal and potentially insulting, publicly when we’ve never even had a conversation? And in front of people I don’t know? I also thought, Hmmm…let’s say this is true. Don’t you think bringing up someone’s dark, troubled past could potentially be a trigger and somewhat traumatic? I don’t think people with trauma go around wanting to be reminded of it all the time. I knew instantly that it was time to go. As soon as that exercise was over I thanked the host for having me and practically ran to my car.
The whole way home I was really upset that I’d betrayed my instinct and attended this very odd conclave. I know what I know when I know. And I KNEW that kind of event wasn’t for me. I also suspected I wouldn’t jibe with some of the attendees, and I absolutely knew that the woman who was my partner was going to say something rude. She was way too eager to partner with me, as if she’d been waiting to get something off her chest about me. And after she finished I decided not to tolerate it.
I regret that I didn’t trust my gut and stay home, but I’m glad I followed my gut and got out that place the second my fears were confirmed, and I didn’t feel safe or comfortable. You know what you know when you know.
Don’t be afraid to trust your gut. Your intuition is divine information. Don’t be afraid to offend or disappoint someone if you feel their request of your time isn’t going to be in your best interest. And don’t be afraid to get the hell out of a situation where you don’t feel safe. As the saying goes, “If you feel something is off, it probably is.”