The short summary is that I have several ongoing personal issues and I don't want them to impact on the group, because I believe that what the group was created to do is a good idea and I don't want it to fail.
Stephanie suggested that I take my girl friends to the same place and let the others see that they weren't needed to have a good time. There are two problems with that.
- That's not the sort of person I am ~ I get on okay with most of the members of the group and, even if I didn't, I wouldn't want to be nasty to them like that, because I know how it feels, because,
- That is exactly what was done to me once by others to show that they rejected me. I sat alone at the reserved table for most of a night, only to discover that 3 or 4 others (including someone I thought was a friend for over 20 years) had deliberately sat elsewhere in the restaurant just out of my sight. It was an incredibly hurtful thing to have done to me, and it achieved nothing except hurt, as to this day I still don't know what I was supposed to have done to cause their behaviour.
That sub-group (who seem to have since disappeared) went out of their way to make it clear that they rejected me but were happy to socialise with the rest of the group at the time. It was made very clear that I was the problem.
In spite of that, I wanted to ensure that the nights would continue and the only way to do that at the time was to continue going regularly while a core group of regulars was established.
Late in 2011, ahead of changes to my work circumstances, I got very busy for a while, working over 80 hours per week for several weeks. I stopped going to the cafe nights, not only because I was too physically exhausted but also because of ongoing political antagonism from one other member of the group (who I'll call C) and a frequent feeling that I was being sidelined.
I don't think that I've ever mentioned the feeling of being sidelined before, in part because I have never been able to work out whether it was entirely in my head or whether it really was happening. It is a hard feeling to explain, but I often felt that others in the group would turn away from me to converse, ignoring me and leaving me on my own in the corner. That feeling was present for part of the night almost every time that I went to a cafe night, and while I know that it did physically happen, I don't think that it was intentional on the part of most of the people who attended.
The political antagonism was harder to deal with. For a long time, I didn't mention it either. At one point, I considered C to be a friend. Over time, however, the fact that we had different political opinions seemed to become more and more of an issue to her, and while I was prepared to accept that she was a socialist and just try to avoid talking about politics, she seemed to increasingly feel the need to attack my moderate opinions and beliefs.
After my work circumstances changed, I found myself taking forced holidays. The combination of stress, depression and exhaustion flattened me. I did virtually nothing for a few months. My weight went up, my interest in doing anything went down. I went to cafe nights infrequently, and even after I started working again I struggled to do anything except work and basic day-to-day necessities.
When I did make the effort to go out to a cafe night, I didn't enjoy it. The political antagonism happened every time C was there, the feeling of being sidelined was there every time and I couldn't bring myself to leave before the group photos at the end of the night. The latter was a problem because I needed to get my sleep patterns sorted out by getting to bed earlier than I was, but others in the group wanted the evenings to end as late as possible.
As far as I can figure out, none of the other members of the group have a problem with each other or with me, except C, who is still there almost every week.
The main thing that is stopping me from going back at present is the fact that there's a real possibility that if C is there and starts up about politics, I may snap, throw something at her or pour something over her head and storm out. I don't want to cause dramas for the group or for the restaurant, so I simply haven't gone there.