It’s been over six months since I stopped going to Single Adult Activities. I didn’t have very much fun and the whole experience was, quite frankly, depressing. I made a single girl friend who invited me to start going to the activities with her. I thought it was safe enough to have a “wingman” so I agreed to venture out into the church singles scene for the first time in over 40 years. She was fun and she knew most people, so it was fun getting to know her friends and being introduced to new people. So far so good.
The problems for me, began when I started have panic attacks and anxiety at the events. What should have been fun, was instead, overwhelming. My PTSD would take over and a harmless dance became a war zone, fraught with danger and landmines. Triggers were everywhere. Just walking into the building was a Trigger. The most prominent one was: I shouldn’t be single! If my Ex hadn’t betrayed me I wouldn’t even be here! Why did this have to happen to me? How did I even get here? Then all the emotions of the trauma of betrayal would wash over me like a flood of emotions – and suddenly I was drowning.
I never shied away from meeting new people or social situations, but this was too much, especially for an empath. I could walk into any given room of singles and suddenly feel overwhelmed by what I call, the collective “singleness cloud of pain.” I could sense the collective “singleness cloud of pain” before I even opened the door. It was a thousand feelings of grief over lost love, through either death or divorce, coming from hundreds of people gathered in the same room. It was stifling! Each of them were at the event in the hopes of trying to find someone, anyone, to ease their own cloud of pain. If in that moment, I added my own pain into the mix, it became unbearable very quickly. I would barely arrive at the event, with hopes of having some fun, only to be greeted with this innate feeling that I should not be there, I didn’t belong there, how did I end up in this group of people whose common denominator was profound loss? I would feel the hot tears well up behind my eyes, ready to spill down my freshly primped face. The urge to run was intense. Luckily, I usually came with girlfriends, so I had to stay. I forced myself to stay, and like it. I reminded myself of a child who is forced to take bitter medicine – it tastes horrible, but it’s good for me! I would choke down the tears and not make my friends feel guilty for having their own fun. I dutifully danced with the souls brave enough to ask me, I would have pleasant chit-chat with people around me, I made a herculean effort to make my own fun, but all I wanted to do was go home, get in my pajamas and pull the blanket over my head!
Why was this so painful?
The LDS Singles in the Salt Lake and Utah Counties literally have something going on every night of the week! It is a veritable gold mine for the lonely and single. There is plenty to do, lots of opportunities to socialize and mingle. I could go “have fun” every night of the week if I wanted. But I did not want. It was too much on my emotions, feelings, and psyche to just manage to attend something once a week. All summer I tried to force myself to become a bona-fide single woman. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wish away, deny, or pretend that I couldn’t feel the common thread of sadness from everyone who was there. Instead of “I see dead people,” for me it was “I feel broken hearts.” It was too much. So I stopped going last September.
From what I understand from talking to my therapist and other singles, my reaction isn’t that uncommon. An overwhelming number of singles, especially Sisters, report; “I just couldn’t do it.” I don’t blame them. Neither could I.
Then an amazing thing happened. I met someone. He likes to dance. I like to dance. So he came into town and we went to a dance, or two, together. It’s amazing how having a date insulated me from all the sadness in the room. I could be there and have fun, real fun! I could enjoy dancing with a man who loved being there with me. It was heaven! Now that I am actually dating someone, I am so glad there are so many singles activities in my area. It gives us a place to go to engage in wholesome and uplifting activities together while we get to know each other better. And I feel better about bringing my own happiness and positive energy in to a space that needs that boost. Being there is finally good.
I had a lot of guilt from people close to me to just “get over it,” or “you will find someone better.” I played the guilt trip in my head by saying to myself, “what if my person is at the dance tonight and I don’t go?” Even that wasn’t enough to make me go, until I was ready. People close to you mean well, they have your best interests at heart, but they can’t know when you are ready. Only you can know that!
So here is my bottomline, Singles Activities may not be for you, right at this moment. But give it an honest try. If it’s not for you right now, I totally get that! But think about trying again later. It can be good place to be, when the timing is right. For the recently traumatized, that timing may take a little while. Be kind to yourself. Healing takes time. Trying on your single suit might take even more time.
When it’s right, you will know.
Here are a couple of places you can look when you are ready:
Most of them have an email list you can sign up for to receive a monthly calendar of events.
Stay Strong, Be Sweet!