“What if I start to giggle in front of all those people?” Mark said last night before we went to sleep, and it has stuck with me through the day. “What if I forget the words? What if I fall off the podium? Can’t we just run away together and forget the whole thing?”
I’ve been so busy feeling stressed and drawn-out that I haven’t given much thought to how Mark might be feeling. He’s done a bulk of the work on planning, and he’s enjoyed that, but now that we’re heading in toward the finish line, his hang-ups about crowds and attention is affecting him.
I am used to getting up in front of lots of people and do silly stuff. It’s always the few minutes before a performance that are the worst, but then I zone out and become Stage-Colin. I fully expect that Mark will wed Stage-Colin, and not the awkward Book-Colin. But what about Mark? He does not have my ability to switch between personas, and he is not only socially awkward but also a bit anti-social. Crowds bother him.
It’s difficult to explain without crossing that dividing line between telling funny, illustrative anecdotes about our lives, and betraying trust to a person that doesn’t like to be in focus. I try to keep that dividing line very clear here on the blog; funny things that involve me but nothing important about him is okay. Important stuff that mainly affect him, I don’t tell you about. Except for now. I’m still wondering if that’s a mistake. He says it’s okay, so. I guess.
When we go to parties and find that there are lots of people, he wants to leave quickly. I’ve said this before, but I haven’t said anything about the little battle of wills and the brave steeling of himself if we stay. If I want us to stay, he goes to the edge, finds a small group of friends, and doesn’t really participate. He hides in the shadow, away from the crowd, until my needs are filled. Then we leave and go back to our cocoon.
Sometimes I consciously struggle against him because I want to enjoy a party, and other times we do as he says. Which it will be differs. It is a little conflict, a negotiation, a debate we have each time. It is both serious and not, at the same time. We just have to find a balance between him and me where both are satisfied. Sometimes I have to win, and other time he has to.
But here? Every single one of the fifty or so people who are coming are there to see us. There will be no hiding. Wherever he will go, he will be the focus of attention. As will I. Yes, it’s his relatives mostly, but he doesn’t see them that often – and to a degree many of them are near strangers.
Mark is the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of the fast running truck. I wish there was more I could do for him; more I could do to reassure him. But there isn’t, is there? He’s so eager to go through with this though, and I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been so preoccupied with my own stress.
We’re supposed to be in this together.