Are you a party animal? I'm definitely not. I have mentioned here before, I believe, that I hide behind ficus trees at parties. We were invited, however, to attend a party tonight hosted by Mel's employers and the hospital board where he works, so we felt it would behoove us to attend and show our appreciation for their generosity. The closer time came for me to walk into a crowd of strangers and start up a conversation, the sicker I felt. In the first place, Mel had to work today, and knowing he would probably not arrive when the party started, and since I still am not allowed to drive with my post-op shoulder, my mother delivered me to the hospital where Mel was still on duty so I could ride with him to the restaurant. I decided, last minute, to haul a bunch of our books to the dinner. Mel got off work in time to arrive "fashionably late," and we were met by his director and wife. This was an answer to prayers. The books were a hit, too.
I had friends, who know what a weenie I am about things like this, praying for me not to pop a cork. Prayers were answered. Mel's director and his wife are both Christians who do mission trips. We immediately had a conversation going. The bad part came when she told us their son died from diabetes four years ago, and I started crying. They handled it well and I was glad I was wearing glasses--maybe they didn't see? Because when I talk about the death of my stepdaughter, even 24 years later, if someone is the least bit emotional about it, I'm ripped apart all over again, and I don't want to do that to someone else.
I had a whole list of suggestions I'd written down given to me by friends today, and though I left it at home, I remembered the advice. Ask questions and listen. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Gather info for the next book. Listen. Ask questions. Did I say that already? It bears repeating. Everybody appreciates that.
Here's another piece of advice the mother of my stepchildren gave me many years ago, when I was uncomfortable about walking in front of others in a crowded room. She asked me, "What makes you think you're so important that all eyes are on you?" In other words, "Lighten up. People are more self-involved than they are you-involved."
I always knew my shyness had a bit of self-centeredness about it. Wish I could overcome that. Any other suggestions for the next party?