Christmas drinks anyone?

Ever since I posted my blog last week I have been slightly terrified. I feel like I’ve launched into a new space by deciding to stay on my swing and to open the conversation to the rest of my readers. Why is this terrifying? Well maybe because up until now this blog has been all about my journey and reflections, like the pages of my journal–slightly censored–for people to read. By jumping back on my swing and asking you to join the conversation I suddenly feel like I have nothing to say.

To resolve this problem I have spent the week reading, analysing and searching other blogs. Each time someone on my twitter feed posts an article I devour it; I’ve started a blog course by Darren Rowse at Problogger and I’ve looked at the Alltop site to see what are the trending top ten blogs world wide in my ‘topics of interest’. The problem is I have no idea what my ‘topic of interest’ is. The truth is, I really am just a girl on a swing figuring out life as I go.

I’ve lost sleep this week wondering what to say at dinner parties and celebration events. It’s ridiculous. Once upon a time I never had this problem; before my Sam got diagnosed with Leukaemia I was a totally carefree, laughter-loving girl who delighted in conversation, catching up on the goss’ and really didn’t care if I had anything worthwhile to say. I just enjoyed every moment of being with people, hearing their stories and sharing our lives.

It’s strange how an encounter with a life-threatening illness changes everything. I’ve been trying to return to normal life all year. I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been to work with the children. They are perfect company for someone trying to recover from grief. They are funny, innocent and honest. They are quick to say when they don’t get it and eager to have a go at anything new. When I introduce a new song in our morning routine, 9 times out of 10, they will start bouncing when they hear the intro music and call out, ‘yes great, I love this one’, but when it comes to the lyrics they don’t know the words. They act like they do anyway–they murmur sounds that could be the words, and every now and then they guess a word right.

You learn a lot about life from small children. You learn that it is important to keep getting up and having a go, that failure is never permanent, that making a fool of yourself can be laughed off and that every day is new to discover. Is it any wonder Jesus told his followers to come like children. We do lots of group activities towards the end of Kindergarten, problem-solving activities where you can work with your friends. Even the children know they need each other to achieve things. They are not threatened when someone is better than them; instead they rejoice that someone is good at something that they are not and together they make a team.

We need each other don’t we? We all have something interesting to bring to the conversation. I used to think I was interesting enough before my daughter got Leukaemia; nowadays I just feel sad and I am terrified that my sadness will leak out into conversation. It’s easier to stay at home, to read, to write and reflect but it isn’t easy for long. Deep inside I am the same me that I always was; but I need new strategies for social events, I need to surround myself with people who ‘get’ how dysfunctional I feel. In contrast to the happy lifestyle of the Northern Beaches, I feel like I wear my sadness as a heart on my sleeve. I worry that my pain will land on the conversation like a massive wet blanket and people will flee.

The answer to the problem is to talk about things other than yourself. You would think this would be easy wouldn’t you? But not for me–it seems I always find a way of making the conversation all about me. The only problem is that I don’t want to talk about me anymore–life isn’t quite what I expected. I am reading “Mama Mia” by Mia Freedman at the moment and I have to admit I am such a fan of that girl. I love how she tells it how it is, confessing her mistakes all the way to success. That’s how to do life I think. You just keep walking. You fake it when you need to, but you share your secrets with your friends and ultimately you realise we are all terrified about something. I’m off to Christmas drinks with some of my intelligent friends next week and I will certainly make sure I have read all the cheat sheets by Julie Cowdroy before I go.

What about you? What terrifies you about social events? Let’s start the conversation, I’d love to hear from you.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Christmas drinks anyone?

  1. Berni Morris-Smith

    Clare…..u been on my mind today….1 week later and I miss our little brief chats or looks each morning on drop off and pick up..
    …Arrrghh social events….

    ever tried having a conversation when you cant hear what the person is saying as its so noisy and then they tell you a most profound thing and you stare at them meaninglessly …eek most embarassing….and you so want to know what they are talking about…best trick I know is …move to quieter spot …

    and then theres the times when you cant remember their name and they think they know you so well and you’re cringing inside you dont have to introduce them to anyone….my new trick…always say my name first…sometimes they get the game and tell you theirs!

    What funny moments can you recount at parties/events that you just want to curl up and run away….???

    Lets have a swing sometime….reckon we can have a few laughs about size 10 boot “putting your foot in it” social ettiquette…..and all the many things I feel hopeless at …esp at social events… u not alone in feeling the way you do in all you been thru…but I bet inside you theres a wealth of hilarity that would make our sides crack! 🙂
    xxB

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hey Berni, one good thing about social phobia is that my foot is in my mouth just a little bit less! Not by much though – perhaps I dig my own hole still with the words I write? My beautiful friends are SMSing me, as a result of this post (foot in mouth – “Ah well!”) to say that they hope I don’t feel concerned about visiting them. Truth is – I have some events this week that I am SO looking forward to…Clare PS Found this great post about avoiding mistakes at social events http://bit.ly/edKq83

      • Berni Morris-Smith

        Your words are richly marvellous and encouraging…and so so true …..and we love them….hope you having a great week….and have a wonderful Christmas…hope u manage to have some great chats….please share those u can …only to encourage us more on your walk xxx Blesssings B xx.

  2. I’ve found the safest way to survive is to listen more than I talk. I’m not always a success and there’s enough sanguine in my nature to have a story or anecdote busting to get out on most occasions. But I try to turn the tables, ask questions and listen to the answers. Then I don’t have to say so much about me, and by extension give away the fact that I feel exactly the same way in those social circles.

    Being authentic freaks people out… but I think if more of us did it there would be less need for all the others around us to hide behind the ‘I’m fine’ mask as well.

    • Clare Froggatt

      i find you very interesting to talk to, a great listener (which is necessary isn’t it with me!) and very authentic too. The perfect blend of trivial and deep – thanks for commenting 🙂 You help me feel normal – whatever normal is?

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