Does anyone else feel like this?

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I lost my beloved partner, Craig, on 20th March, from an unexpected heart attack. Since then, I'm almost agoraphobic and avoid seeing anyone at all costs. I wrote this story/metaphor to help others understand how I feel and why I'm worried about being going anywhere. I hope it helps others. xxx

The Party Guest

I feel like the only person in ugly fancy dress, at a party where everyone else is in their finest clothes. And I've forgotten my wallet. No one dares mention anything. It's easier to pretend I'm not here, so instead they drift away to speak to someone else, someone who fits in, so they don't have to have that awkward conversation about why I'm dressed this way.

They assume I want to be left alone anyway - they assume I can't face the excruciating conversation about my wrongful, solitary attire either. They assume I want space, but they don't realise when everyone assumes the same, 'space' shape shifts into an even deeper loneliness. I feel like I'm standing at the bar alone watching from the outside in. An alien creature in a foreign landscape. An uninvited guest.

Some who dare to approach me desperately avoid the white elephant in the room. The strange, ugly and inappropriate outfit that I didn't really choose to wear to this party tonight. They wish I'd chosen not to come. Or they uncomfortably avoid the topic because they don't know how to ask me about it, so they'll pretend I'm dressed like they are. Because it's easier all round that way.

My presence in strange clothing somehow dents the smooth flow of the glamorous party and slightly disappoints a few, who see me as a blight against the beautiful surroundings of the otherwise perfect party.

I sense that everyone would find it a lot more comfortable if I'd joined them in their collective sartorial choice - one more fitting of the fun occasion. One that wouldn't create an awkward glitch or twitch at second glance. I sense some would rather I'd not turned up at all.

I suddenly remember seeing such an ill-fitting party guest such as me before, and remember how my heart sank a little that they'd come to the party - they might spoil the fun. They might darken the light and didn't we all deserve to enjoy ourselves without their jarring presence? A stab of remorse about my previous ignorance slices my heart. I see things differently now. I know.

An anachronism of sorts, I'm juxtaposed with everyone around me. Strange and awkward looks are the only accessories adorning me at this occasion. A few ask me if I'm too warm in my fancy dress and ask if they can get me a fan to cool me down. Or some water. I'm grateful.

Some of them somehow know I can't take this outfit off, but I appreciate their offers. The bolder, unwise few ask why I don't just change into something more suitable. Why don't I just go home and stay there, or come back wearing something more appropriate, so I can glide back into their evening without a stir. If I could, I would.

There are the few who ask me what I'd like to drink without me having to ask for one. They know it's easier to offer me one than to let me ask for it. They know specifics are needed. They know. They ask how I'm feeling in my conspicuous outfit, knowing I feel so different from everyone else in the room. They're not afraid.

They take the time to see my eyes through my unchosen mask: they know I'm not okay, but they stay with me a little longer, even though they're missing some easy excitement in another corner of the party.

Some of the guests forget that I didn't choose to spoil everyone's fun at this party. I didn't choose to be dressed differently from anyone else. I didn't choose to make things awkward for people who just wanted to have fun and some light relief after a heavy week.

Some have forgotten to think that I had my other party outfit all laid out and ready. His beautiful outfit was next to mine. We were excited about the party and the fun we'd have - we couldn't wait and had talked excitedly about it. But our party plans changed without warning.

We didn't choose any of it. His chosen outfit lies unworn. No more parties. Nothing. My outfit lies loyally next to his, our sleeves just touching, with something indistinguishable there. The faintest glimmer that mine may one day be worn again, but will never look quite the same as it did before.

I didn't choose to wear this fancy dress. Beneath it I'm burning up. I'm struggling for air - I can barely breathe. I didn't choose to go to the party alone, but here I am. Alone. Different.

I want people to remember although he's not at the party, he was supposed to be. I want them to acknowledge his absence. And who he was and is to me. Acknowledge his name was on the guest list next to mine. Acknowledge our outfits were to be worn together. Acknowledge me and who I was, and who, unwittingly, I now am. I'm different now; I no longer know what to do at this newly unfamiliar party. But I'm here. See me.

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss I lost my soulmate of seventeen years it's been six months and five days every day is getting worse I too don't want to go anywhere the panic attacks are horrific take care as much as possible x

Hello Dark Angel
That was amazing ! It says it all. I will always remember The Party Guest ! I find people are very awkward around me now, and I'm sure most people say what makes them feel better about MY situation. I say it like being a member of a club I didn't want to join, and yet we have a life time membership !
My thoughts are with you and everyone else in our club.
Take care Lesley xx

Very well written, it says it all. I was with friends on Saturday. People I knew, we was a work party and I was working happily on my own, then I was asked to join then in the break. I did so, but couldn't cope. I sat away on my own, not wanting to inflict my miserable face on others who were laughing and chatting together. This is just not me I was thinking, so where has the real me gone and how do I get her back again. I was always the chatty one, I could make conversation with anyone. I annoyed Brian at times because he couldn't and felt left out. Now at last he has shut me up, I hope he's pleased with himself. Back to the work party I quietly left. Perhaps I will apologise for my behaviour but don't want to seem pathetic. I can't cope in groups at the moment but will one day again, of that I am determined. I am an outdoor person but find myself being drawn to staying indoors more often. I feel safe when alone and indoors and don't have to try to be someone I'm not. I don't have to put on an act. One day a door will open and a light will shine again. That has been said to me and I hang onto every word of it. Because I so want to find that light and remember Brian with the love he deserves for the many happy years we had together. Bless xxxx

I was the same with my soulmate couldn't shut me up do sadly missed things Ard getting worse day by day im having anxiety to even water the plants at the front of the house I always had so much confidence and was outgoing the centre of the party all gone now I feel so vulnerable and scared I stay in alot too take care your in my thoughts x

In reply to Ade

I'm sorry to have to say this but an effort has to be made and the effort has to come from within ourselves. No one can do it for us. If I don't want to do something I make myself do it. I was always an awkward child and now I'm quite pleased about it. We must keep trying to find ourselves again because that is how our loved ones knew us. Being so scared I find is the worst possible thing. Not recognising ourselves is even worse. Who and what have we become. Everything is an effort, I know that. But when I do make the effort I feel I have achieved something no matter how small. I feel for your pain. It's a poor reward for loving someone so much, we all feel the same so your not on your own. God bless Pat xx

Hi thankyou for your kind words means alot I really appreciate it thankyou ill ring the GPS tomorrow im really struggling God bless take care of yourself xx

In reply to Dark Angel

That's a very nice piece of writing, very perceptive and so accurately described. I'm a great believer in the therapeutic benefits of creativity in our situation, be that writing, painting or drawing. Despite being a distraction I feel it can be absorbing and almost a form of release. I paint watercolours and in the period since my wife died I've joined a drawing group and my drawing has improved, and that pleases me. Had I been able to write as you have done I would be delighted.

I too believe in therapeutic distraction. At the moment I use my gardening. Believe it or not planting vegetable needs quite a bit of working out. Type of ground, does the veg like hard or soft ground, newly manured or not. What was planted in that spot last year and will it benefit this years produce. I am using gardening and my love of walking and the lovely countryside as therapy and make sure I do one or the other, fitting in the gym I always wanted to be a writer and had a love of books since I could first read. The library was my favourite place even when small. (What a sad child I was). I did give it a try but it's so hard to get anythng published so gave up. The library wanted volunteers to help and I decided I might like that but backed out at the last minute, just not ready. I was going to join a painting group recently then found that it was abstract and this doesn't interest me. My husband was a painter and I gave most of his equipment away but did keep a few of his books, and paints just in case I decided to follow in his footsteps. I don't feel ready for group activities just at the moment. I feel more comfortable with my beloved dogs as company be it down on the allotment or out walking. My husband took photographs while walking and painted them later. I have some of his paintings half done or a sketch done ready for him to paint, so I might just give it a go and complete them for him. One day.
I do admire your approach. Willing to try and make an effort. It's tough but we have to try.

Wow it's nearly a year since I lost my little boy. I still feel like this every weekend when with friends.
I'm so sorry for your loss I'd like to say it gets better but forcne it hasn't. I try hide the pain now behind fake smiles and little laughs but I feel you hit the nail on the head with the party sentence.
Sending my full support and best wishes to you and just hope you keep keeping on.
Stephen.

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