The group is a chapter of a national organization based upon concepts and beliefs of Evangelical Fundamentalism and we meet in a large church. The building is enormous and the strange bubble that we meet in is their sanctuary, carpeted to look like it doubles as a basketball court. I've struggled with Evangelical Fundamentalism since I first attended a church when I was sixteen. The sermon hour ended up with people laying on hands, fainting, crying out and having muscle spasm that they claimed was 'the spirit of the Lord God upon me!' The language they use to express their beliefs, the minimal education required for their pastors and how the bible is interpreted are all things I do not fully understand.
Last year it felt different for me. There have been a lot of new moms joining the chapter this year and the bigger it gets the more uncomfortable I am feeling. I am an introvert by nature and I get overwhelmed in too large of a group. I express these feelings by spurting out things I later regret or by getting too eager to talk (our discussion time is limited and I wonder if others feel like I don't share that time enough). I wish I could just sit back and relax, contributing to conversations only when my brain isn't feel like it is about to short circuit.
Another factor that seems to be contributing to my sense of uneasiness here is that I sense a division growing stronger within the group. The very large steering committee is comprised mostly of women who attend the church where we meet. They do a lot of things together. This chapter seems to be an extension of their already established social group that goes from church, to home to everywhere else in their lives. As the overall chapter grows larger the divisions of cliques becomes more established. I think I fear the meetings might end up like their Sunday morning services.
It is so hard for me to fully understand what I am uncomfortable with. While sitting at my table yesterday morning I had a complete view of the entire room. I looked around and saw some faces I recognized and many I hadn't. I starting feeling like we were all there to sit back and watch what the steering committee was doing; that what was being done was more to fulfill their own sense of purpose and self-importance than to build and foster a community of women.
If I were to stop attending these meetings there is nothing else like this in this little rural town. My friend attends as well and I know that she would be sad if I were not going. I like that it gives Sweet One somewhere to play with other children and begin to develop her social skills. (One of the women in the two year old room was my discussion leader last year and she says Sweet One is doing better and better every time.) However, shortly after each meeting this year Sweet One has developed a cold which has also affect Little Man. I don't want to spend the entire winter with sick children!
Maybe I can let go of my own ingrained biases about the denomination. Perhaps I'm dwelling on what I don't like about the denomination because I'm feeling self-conscious there. I'm 33 years old, fer fukk sake, so I should be able to behave myself a little better when I recognize my anxiety growing during the meetings! I just hate sitting here more than 24 hours after the meeting ended still regretting the petulant child who whined too much about the decaf running out quickly. If I'm really lucky, I may be able to gain enough self-confidence to not feel like people are looking at me funny wondering why I'm there. And the cherry on top would be that Sweet One won't get sick every time we go and if she does get sick, she'll fight it off quickly and not give the gersm to her brother. I don't really know. I do know that I wish there was a group in this area I could become a part of that I didn't feel like a sore thumb sticking out.