I have this amazing ability, I’m sure it is something that I seem to have unintentionally perfected over the years, this maybe just one blog post, but I could write the book on it, this ability of mine to “stand alone in a crowded room”.
I’m not a natural mixer, I am okay in my own surroundings, but outside of that I am intensely shy, I find it hard to connect with others that I don’t know, some people I know can just walk up to people they don’t know and have never met and strike up a conversation as if they speak with each other daily, me I just stand alone, quiet, withdrawn, just me in my own bubble, struggling to mix. Once I get to know people it’s a little different, but still sometimes in room of people I know I can still feel like I’m on the fringes of things, not that I’m intentionally left out, it’s just me, I can just put myself out of place.
In a place that’s new to me and crowded, I tend to just tag along with the people I know, following them around and trying to be a little like them. This happened when I first went abroad to Norway with the English Karate Team, I didn’t really know that many on the team, I was a bit of an outsider among my own people, they were all from the London area, they knew each other had trained with each other for years, then there was me, this little odd ball from 125 miles away, somewhere up north, I felt outside of everything, just doing my best to mix. Things improved as I got to know these guys more over the weekend and in the course of my years on the squad, I was eventually considered to be a senior amongst those on the squad, I was one of the oldest, the senior grade, I attended more sessions than most of my team mates, even though I was travelling so far, I became a central figure, even after I retired from the squad I remained a senior figure and many of them gave me the most amazing send off when I retired from competing last months, they raised the biggest cheers for me as I collected my medal.
That’s just one story of many from my karate, just one story of so many in my life and probably one of many to come in my life, but in terms of the time I felt most out of place, when I really felt like a square peg in a round hole, well that came on the 1st April 2012, that was the morning I walked into the Everyday Champions Church.
I had been there before, I had sat in a service before, a family event that time, my daughters confirmation, I didn’t really understand what that meant, I attended with Victoria, my kids, members of the family, I even stood on stage as part of the service, I met many members of the Church that day and many came back to my house and sat with me.
But this time I entered the doors alone, I did my best to get in unnoticed, just to slip in quietly, not wanted to really connect with anyone, unless I knew them, I texted Alex that morning to say I was going, he’s an old family friend and sat with me that night that Gareth came around to meet with me a few weeks earlier, I spoke with him on the way in, he knew why I was there and what was going on, other than that I wanted to slip quietly in, sit at the back and see what there was there for me to find, I was searching for something, a way forward, a new start, a new life, I had made a start, but I was in need for something to guide me on this journey.
That’s the funny side of all of this, I wanted to be alone in Church, I wanted to sit alone, but also wanted something to help me stay on this new path I had found, I wanted the company of people to help me, but couldn’t make myself connect with those there that could help.
I took a seat right at the back, on the back row in the corner, the furthest away from the stage as possible and away from the crowds, I sat alone for a while until a couple, John and Eve, took the seats next to me, they introduced themselves and we talked, at that point I came to the first point where I had to make a big decision.
Do I tell the truth or do I continue to try to hide what I had become?
I had been hiding behind my addiction for so long, I hid it so well I had hid it from myself, I didn’t know I was addicted until it was too late. Now was the time to make a choice, keep hiding or let it all out, admit what I was so the healing process could progress.
I recounted my story for the first of so many occasions, with that first recalling of my downfall to someone I didn’t know came some relief from the pain, the more I shared my story of the coming weeks the easier it got.
I spoke with John and Eve after the service, discussed how I felt about it and a little bit more about my story and my journey so far, but after that discussion I seemed once again to be alone. That’s when after standing alone for some time, I decided to go home, but on the way out I met with James, he had been one of those who had come to my house on my daughters confirmation day, we had only met that once, but he remembered and we talked, for the second time that morning I retold my whole sordid story, it was easier this second time, I’m so glad I met with James on the way out that day, that meeting started a great friendship and the biggest support for my journey so far, in my low times James has been there to pick me up, maybe if I hadn’t of decided to go home that day, if I hadn’t felt a little bit like I didn’t fit, just maybe I wouldn’t have bumped into James and that support may not have been as quite the same, without it this journey may not have been as fantastic as it has.
Over the coming weeks and months in Church I met more and more people, but there were still times that I stood alone in a room of hundreds, when I felt out of place and simply left alone, but that’s me and my amazing ability. I have that superpower, to become invisible, to stand alone in my own company, in a crowded room.
It’s my biggest problem, my natural shyness, I’ve struggled with it all my life and still do now, it gets to me because it holds me back. On this blog I can hide behind the keyboard and screen, alone I type at home, in my own company, then everyone can read it at their own leisure, even my most private and potentially embarrassing moments and secrets I can write about on here, I guess I don’t have to look anyone in the eye as I’m telling my story, I don’t have to look embarrassed or feel like I’m being judged, after all being judged was my biggest fear that day I walked into to Church.
Being judged as not worthy of a place in Church because of my sin and my addiction was what I was most frightened off, when John asked why I had chose to come to Church that day and I decided I had to tell me story, regardless of what these people thought of me, I got the response I needed and that wasn’t judgement, it was a friendly smile, a pat on the shoulder and a welcome to their Church, reassurance that whatever I had become over the years, I was welcome there, I was in the right place now, it didn’t matter to them what I was, it mattered to them that I had found my way home, to a family that would love me and see me through my journey.
It mattered to them that I had found my way to God’s house, I was home.
Do I still stand alone in a crowded room, the answer sadly is yes, but it certainly not as bad as it was.
Can I just walk into uncharted surroundings and talk to people at will, no I can’t, I still not all good at that. I would love to stand out in the crowd sometimes, not just fade into the shadows, I would love to be able to just walk up to someone I didn’t know and strike up a conversation, but I can’t, I guess it’s that fear of being judged on first impressions once again.
It holds me back sometimes, I’m not good at putting myself forward in situations, but I am who I am and right now, I’m happy with who I am.
ALONE by SANCTUS REAL
True love exists yes I know this
My heart was waiting for you
And when we met I felt my chest
pound fast, racing for the chance
to know you, to hold you
To open up and show you
The way it feels when you know…
You are not alone
Know that I would fight the tides to
When you feel alone
Listen to this song to make your heart
Two hearts entwined, yes, you are mine
And I’ll be your’s forever
I’ve done the math, I’m less than half
We’re better off together
And I want you here by my side
As much as you are on my mind
When I’m gona you should no
Rainy Mondays feel like Fridays
When you’re smiling at me I can feel
Between us collapsing
Our love is everlasting
Listen to this song
Let it make your heart feel better