Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Alone’ Category

The still small voice of childhood

In Alone, Challenge delay, Going out on February 13, 2011 at 10:45 am

Again, I didn’t fulfill my challenge this week to go to a nightclub by myself. As boring as it may sound, I had my pajamas on after visiting an art show in downtown, and thought, “Oh yeah, my plan.” I was curled up with a book and my dog on my lap. No way was I going back out.

On Saturday night, I didn’t feel good. I think I might have eaten gluten, something I’m not supposed to have because I’m gluten intolerant. In essence, I had an excuse, albeit a lousy one.

After talking with my mom, I realized that the challenge is too big of a step at this point in trying to finish overcoming my shyness, if such a thing is ever possible. I am putting off the nightclub visit until this summer.

Another reason for not wanting to go the club is I like dressing up to go out, and this winter, it’s been cold, sweater weather. When I was in my twenties and into my thirties, I did go clubbing with friends and wore short skirts out, even in the winter months. But now, I feel old and not so adventurous – though that former wild side remains, albeit in a crumbled ball of want in a small corner of my soul, like a piece of paper with long forgotten memories trying to unfold.

I went clubbing then as part of a group, not having to brave it alone. But it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a club like that. I’m not flying solo, however. I notice the same thing happening to my friends, especially those who are married and have children. That wildness leaves for calmer activities, like getting dinner or going for coffee.

Does anyone miss that need to be crazy, if only for a Friday or Saturday night? Is it like missing being a child when you’re an adult, wanting to run and scream and swing or slide in a playground?

My challenge for next week is to do something that makes me feel young again, even if it’s only for a few minutes, to remember how it felt to be my whole real self without a side hidden away because I’m an adult.

Dog Talk

In Alone, Best Friends, Talking on December 5, 2010 at 8:30 am

I’ve become the girl who talks to her dog. I no longer live with the family, so I don’t have the constant conversations going on around me. In other words, I don’t always have someone to talk to if I don’t schedule a coffee date or a lunch or dinner out.

I’ve somehow started talking to my dog. It’s not a “How’s my, girl?” and “Aren’t you a cutie?” It’s more like, “How was your day? What did you do? Were you a good girl? Oh good, you didn’t potty on the floor. What a good girl. … Be quiet, silly girl. It’s just noise. Stop barking. STOP. It’s all right, I love you. …”

I tell my dog what I’m doing, so she won’t wonder where I’m going. “I’m going to take a shower. I’m going to brush my teeth. I’m getting the mail.” The only thing I don’t tell her is that I’m going to the fridge. She knows the second my foot touches the wood floor in front of it. It must make a special sound or something.

This might be all right, but I caught myself holding a conversation with my dog when we were outside on a walk. I figured it’s time for me to start calling all of my girlfriends. Okay, okay, I’m not crazy. I just like to talk.

And so does Zoey. She has a language hidden underneath all of her barks, her whining and what I call her happy sound, the sound she makes when she is in the ecstasy of play. I’m jealous, too, of the dog that is the receiving end of all of my talk. All she has to do is listen and play and just be. My best friend seems to know what I’m saying, or at least I imagine it to be that way.

Bullying Angst

In Alone, Bullying, Not supposed to be, or not on November 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

I thought that at my age, I was done with being at the receiving end of bullying. Three women in their 20s and 30s whisper about me and make faces at each other directed toward me, but if I acknowledge that I saw the communication, they act innocent.

I remember a particular inane incident where I coughed, or more like hacked from my allergies, in the middle of a conversation for something professional related, and they laughed at me because my phone etiquette was non-existent at that moment. I found it to be annoying and insulting that they expect me to walk on their eggshells to not get the looks.

I could get more specific about the details of this situation. But the point is that I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried being nice to them, asking them about their weekends or telling them I like their hair or clothes. I’ve tried to ignore them. And I’ve tried making snarky comments that acknowledge I know what is happening.

I had been bullied here and there as a junior high and high school student and at a couple of my jobs by incompetent co-workers.

But I was younger. And I knew that kind of stuff happened.

Now, I am, or at least was, under the impression that I’ve outgrown what is supposed to be in the halls of high school. I guess I’m wrong.

Bullying happens anywhere, anytime, to anyone. You just never know. It doesn’t matter if you try to be professional and kind, you will run across people who don’t believe in the Golden Rule.

Popular Unpopularity

In Alone, Finding friends, Fitting in, Shyness on November 7, 2010 at 8:27 am

I’ve always wanted to fit in, but I wonder what that means. I was kind of an outcast in high school, though I had friends. They were not of the popular crowd. That’s what I wanted to be: popular. I joined a few sports teams, believing that if I was an athlete, I would have instant friends.

That didn’t work, plus I was not very coordinated or good at getting balls into hoops or hitting them with bats or tennis racquets.

I became a journalist and at the small-town newspapers got a lot of attention, but that’s because sources wanted their story told, or they recognized me. They liked my writing. Or my reporting.

I liked the attention, but it didn’t make my phone ring.

Plus, I went into journalism to write.

I wanted to be the center of attention, but I was shy. And now I shy away from situations where there are lots of people. I linger on the edges. I keep conversations short. I look for any clues that I’ve overstayed my welcome.

As an adult, popularity doesn’t matter, but does fitting in? Why do I, no matter what I do, still feel slightly unpopular? It doesn’t matter how many Facebook friends I have, particularly because it’s a virtual world of social interaction that doesn’t feel real. Nor does it matter how often my phone rings, or not. I still see myself as left out. And alone. That is, until I come home from work and get a greeting from my dachshund Zoey. She makes me feel popular, at least with her.

As an adult, I know that fitting in does not matter. What matters is the meaning we make out of the friendships we are lucky enough to find – and keep – whether in human or dog form.