Some hurts have a way of digging in deep and popping up at inconvenient moments.
I finally stopped crying this morning long enough to emerge from my car in the back parking lot and sneak into my office. I kept my hair down, which is the secret for these kinds of days, a drape around me. The only way you could have spotted my blood-shot eyes and shiny nose is if you were headed straight at me. Luckily, I only passed one guy in the halls, a gentleman from IT whose name I can never remember. I did not look up when I shakily returned his greeting. Besides that, I slipped into my office unnoticed and shut the door.
My stern inner voice is not patient with my tender heart. She is scolding, “Suck it up, princess! It’s no big deal. Everyone’s busy. It’s a lot to ask everyone to drive up two weekends in a row. They’re coming to the wedding.”
Despite this, I cannot get the tears to stop. I’m on slow leak. I’m a snotting, tear-stained mess complete with the shaky sob breaths children get after a crying fit.
What tragedy has ruined my morning and shaken my soul? I just heard from my mother that of the 29 invitations she sent for my bridal shower, no one can come. Yup, 29 invites, 29 no’s.
Now before you go around blaming my friends (or feeling guilty if you gave one of those no’s), let me admit that everyone has a really good reason for not being able to attend. So many of my oldest friends live a plane trip away, across an ocean even; we didn’t even bother to invite them. Most of the women I know in Arizona live in Phoenix, a two hour drive journey each way. Pretty much every one of them are planning to come up for my wedding in a few weeks. Two Saturday trips up the mountain in one month is asking a lot from anyone. A handful of people are flying out of town for one reason or another. Another can’t drive herself that far anymore since she started with her cancer treatment. A least 5 others have jobs where they cannot get Saturdays off.
They love me. They want to be there. They’re just busy.
That’s life. That’s understandable. So why can’t I get my stupid little heart to understand?
Because it feels just like seventh grade all over again.
The summer I was twelve we moved. Just one town over, but I had to change schools at the start of junior high. I started 7th grade at Wheeler Intermediate School and knew no one and no one knew me. Worse than that, no one cared to know me. I wandered that school aimlessly for a while until I found someone I knew, a girl named Chimere who lived in my neighborhood back in third grade. We used to play barbies together.
Turns out Chimere was popular. She and her large group of friends hung out on a long bench in the common area at the center of campus. I started hanging around too. Besides Chimere, no one really talked to me but I had a place to sit and a group of people around me. That was September. All year I lurked around that bench, mostly ignored, like a phantom. A couple of girls eventually took pity on me and began speaking to me: Elizabeth and Elizabeth. They were smart and funny and sassy.
I had found friends!
In late April, I began to plan my 13th birthday party. I invited my two friends: Elizabeth and Elizabeth. They both said, “No.” No reason was given. Maybe they were just busy? Maybe their parents said no. To this day, I don’t know why. All I know is it stung.
The world did not come crashing down. I survived that snub, you always do. I ended up inviting two other girls I knew in passing. They came. The party was fun. Elizabeth and Elizabeth faded out of my life. I don’t even remember if they attended that school the next year.
But they left me a gift. One more layer added to my insecurities. A stronger distrust of women. A greater fear of being left out.
This struggle between my head and my heart has deep roots.
So today, if you manage to catch a glimpse of my face through my curtain of hair, give me a little grace. You don’t have to assure me it’s going to be alright, that everyone loves me, that they all would come if they could. I know that; my inner voice won’t shut up about it.
Just let me cry a little. Old hurts die hard.