Join the Club

Like many other people, I decided to enter an office lottery pool last week when the jackpot was at its record high. The person who spearheaded the group reported in an e-mail today that twenty people had entered, and we won a collective $19. In a flurry of e-mails, someone wrote, “Let’s make a ‘club’ and we’ll do this every week. Who’s in?” Once the word club was mentioned, I cringed. Ugh. I hate joining things.

I don't want to belong to any club that accepts people like me as a member. -Groucho Marx

I think it goes back to my college days when I joined a sorority, hoping to find a place where I didn’t feel like my usual misfit self. I was happy to be accepted, but soon learned it wasn’t for me. I had to wear my sorority shirt on a certain day each week. I had to go to parties at the frat houses every Wednesday or I’d be fined. I decided to quit, but this was no easy process.  I had to appear before the Board and make my case for leaving the sisterhood. I couldn’t even quit on my own.

Today, after work, I went to the local health food store. On the first Monday of the month, they offer 20% off of all supplements. The place was swamped with people, all looking for the perfect “natural” pill to take away their ailments. Or should I say “our” ailments?

I’ve written in other posts about my adventures in alternative medicine–trying to find some new ways to deal with my chronic pain. I guess I should be happy that the doctor I’m seeing is taking a holistic approach, but I feel like I’ve been thrown into this new world that seems quite foreign. I’ve never eaten that badly, but I’m a One-a-Day vitamin kind of girl, and I like my processed, easy-to-prepare foods. In addition to the various vitamins and supplements I’ve been prescribed, I’ve also been advised to follow a gluten-free, “Paleo Diet.” I’ve been experimenting with this way of eating since late January, but mostly with half-hearted attempts.  I do what I usually do: buy a few books, read them, and don’t fully do what they say. I decided that yesterday, being the first of the month and always a good time to start a new goal, I’d follow the eating plan in earnest. Well, I’ve made it almost two days. I’m hungry. I’m crabby. And I miss my carbs. But now, somehow, I’m part of some free-range chicken/organic produce/supplement-popping club.

Can I quit? Sure. Will I quit? I don’t know.

As I write this, I realize I belong to a very large club whether I want to or not. I’m part of the human club.

In her book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff notes, “When we’re in touch with our common humanity, we remember that feelings of inadequacy and disappointment are shared by all. This is what distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity. Whereas self-pity says, ‘poor me,’ self-compassion remembers that everyone suffers, and it offers comfort because everyone is human.”

Even though my pain may be different than your pain, we have much in common.  As humans, we have imperfect bodies. Bodies that have aches and pains. Bodies that get old. Bodies that are impermanent (that’s Zen-speak for die).

Now there’s a cheery thought…

8 thoughts on “Join the Club

  1. I hear you about joining clubs. Bigtime Grouchogirl ugh. But I’m encouraging, persuading, even bribing myself to experiment with one next week.
    A friend of mine belongs to a hiking club and she’s bringing the group to the trails here. She knows that I’m familiar with them, so she’s asked me to lead it.
    My first reaction is omg. No way. Oh please how do I get out of this. I’d go along happily with the group, but oh yuck, lead?
    Now that I’m well into your book, I recognize and I am fully certain that yes I dosuffer from social anxiety disorder. It’s gotten worse over the last 5 years, because it’s my habit to shut down whenever something stressful arises. That would be into hermitland shut down.
    Anyways, I’m hopeful that I can do this. Lead the group around in an area that I’m more than at home in, without cancelling beforehand out of fear, worry, ?! obsessive thoughts driving me nuts. Perfection: having to make everything just right. I’m aware of my thoughts and patterms but honestly how do i free myself and break free from this.
    Walking along with a friend – no problemo. Even joining along with everyone – fine! But leading the group along? Gulp..
    I want to surrender and let go of inadequacy issues that have plagued me for sometime.
    I want to have more fun and seriouslylet go of this stuff.
    I loved it when you wrote that we’re all one in this club here. Helping each other helps us of course. But what’s really magical is that the healing then helps everyonein our big club. And i have faith that sharing the truth does set us free. I feel anopening in my heart when i hear it.
    Thanks for your loving blog.
    p.s. good luck with your “free-range chicken/organic produce/supplement-popping club.” You never know with experiments right 🙂

    • Hi Rachel,

      I would be saying “OMG, No Way” too if I had to jump right into leading a group! Hopefully since you’ll be doing something (hiking), people won’t just be looking at you. They better not be or they’ll trip and fall 🙂
      I will be rooting for you. I hope you don’t back out because they probably need you to not get lost! But if you do, know that I’ve been there, too.

  2. Wow that does sound annoying about the requirements to go to a party every Wednesday in that sorority and then having to tell them formally why you were leaving. Definitely not joining one of those in college, lol! The gluten-free diet sounds tough, I would miss the carbs too. Good luck though with your efforts…

  3. I have definitely had trouble with “feeling” our common humanity. After reading Self-Compassion I’ve been experimenting with imagining others who are suffering as I am – and somehow that feels like a good baby step – safe – better than totally giving up.

    So today when I noticed feeling judgmental about a co-worker, then feeling like a bad person – I’m trying to not “fix” it in my traditional way of chanting “be a better person, be a free open happy enlightened person.” And to have compassion for my judgmentalness – and remember others who feel this way – which does feel like comfort instead of control.

    So, yeah, being willing to be in the judgmental club – ouch!

    PS – Hi Barb – my sister Colleen Loehr told me about your blog after I told her I was reading Kristin Neff’s book – thanks for your honesty and bravery!

  4. Pingback: The Grass Grows Where You Water It « The Self-Compassion Project

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