social quotient

Reaching Out by jmtimages


If there is such a thing as social quotient, I score rather low on that. I am probably in the 5th percentile or something like that.

Back in school, on the last day of the final examinations, hordes of students would surge to town, pouring into theatres to watch a movie, or combing the malls for retail therapy after weeks of study (and performance) stress.

I went to the second-hand bookstore, lugged home a pile of novels, curled up and read. I have always been the rather (in)famous anti-social bird.

After Ferdinand died, my social quotient plunged. Crashed. Failed to register on the scale, because I totally dug a tunnel southwards and went into hiding.

The only way to know that I had not wiped my neck with a sharp blade was that I was writing, spewing all thoughts and emotions out into cyberspace, emptying my grief unbridled.

And, it took me a long time to crawl out of my little dark hole.

At one point, I felt I better be out. My girls need the sunlight, they need a social life, in some form of guise.

But being social was so hard. Talking to other people, I keep making mental footnotes like--

I can't believe I am standing here talking, my son died.

I can't believe I had a stillbirth.

But, you know, my son died.

How can babies die?!

I am not normal, even if I can stand and talk, do you understand?


I've never ever been the life of any party, even though for years my horoscope kept insisting that if you would just invite me to your party, I'm gonna kick it up a few notches at least.

Still, I do not consider myself a difficult person to be with. I am usually civil and pleasant, and don't bite too often. (Really!) I do enjoy being social, and (dare I say it) can be fun to be with.

I know for some, keeping with the social life they once had helps with the grieving/healing. It allows the support network to be available, it makes one feel alive and still be part of the fabric of society.

For me, I just want to rip the thread that is me right out of that fabric that is society and announce, with a wave of a black lacy handkerchief, "Forget I ever exist." I feel like I wanna turn my back upon society, upon life, and just be a vagabond, traveling to the farthest corners of the world, dragging my tattered heart in a quaint and worn leather bag. I no longer wished to participate in life.

But, how is that possible?!

It just is not, unless I check myself into some remote mental institute and spend the rest of my days forgetting my name, drooling strained spinach out of the corners of my mouth, rubbing dirt into my hair, and basically just waste away until my body decides it is time.

So, slowly, somehow I became "social" again. And I will admit, sometimes it helps. To just participate in life, be useful from time to time (when I first held a door for someone, I felt... alive), interact with strangers. Instead of just mumbling to the cashiers or pretending to be busy and not want to talk, I reached into the space that contains my heart and give it a squeeze and focus on being attentive to people I talk to. I mean, I really wanted to know about their day. And if they went beyond the usual "Great!" or "Wonderful!" and complain about a leaky toilet or having to be on their feet all day, I listened, I empathized and that made me feel more alive. Even though none of that had direct relation to my grief, it made me feel less disconnected and my heart became enlivened, even if only for a little bit.

I am curious about how others are doing and what excites and bothers them. I like to be able to interact and share my thoughts. But being a bereaved sometimes handicaps that. I still keep making mental foodnotes of My son died, I had a stillbirth and sometimes the mental footnote keeps ringing in my head as I proceed with my social life. There seems to be always this tension between wanting a sense of normalcy and desiring an acknowledgement that one is not exactly normal.

I know my social quotient will slowly go up, by virtue of the primal need to be social, by virtue of my children's needs, and I hope, that this scar in my heart that had made me raw in social situations will one day become a glowing light that shines compassion and deep empathy when I one day become a more normal social animal again.


In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart.
~ Roberta Sage Hamilton ~


And you? How do you do? What's your social quotent, were you a social maniac before, or were you more of a hermit? How did babylosthood affect your social life? What was hard about being social again? How did being social help? What was the first social event you chose to participate in, and why, and how did it go?