The barefoot subs left arm bound in a gauntlet made of rainbow rope.

The Gauntlet of Friendship

The barefoot subs left arm bound in a gauntlet made of rainbow rope.

Forging friendships can feel like running the gauntlet.

It shouldn’t do, but perhaps this period of my life was just like those teenage years where the art of making friends is learnt? Naturally introverted, this kind of gauntlet strikes terror in my heart!

Not long after my self tie adventures on Dartmoor I was due to be attending a hen night and wedding. In fact as I am sat here typing I realised that it is three years exactly since the wedding.

At this point my mental health was still in a decline, and I was really struggling with being around people. Mind you, I had never really coped well with groups of girls. Particularly when I “sort of know” them. I explained the situation to the hen and her bridesmaid, Dr Lovelace, that a spa day was financially out of reach, plus I wasn’t sure I had the emotional capacity for fun and frivolities. But they wouldn’t take no for an answer. The bride said that her budget covered the spa and she needed me there, and they both said that if I needed to I could take myself away for a break, no questions asked.

So I agreed. Nervously.

As it happened the spa was OK. The masochists among us enjoyed the ice shower, and drank copious amounts of tea. Then, when it came time to leave we continued to a bar. I was driving so when I was told off for not drinking the cocktails it was easy enough to brush off. But then came the point where I just needed space. From all of the noisy hustle and bustle. I stayed with the group, slightly off to one side, and taking out my phone decided to dip into instagram for five minutes of rope-perving peace and quiet for my brain. At this point MsD decided to belittle me in front of the group and loudly scoff at my antisocial behaviour.

I don’t know what came over me but I curtly informed her that I was “struggling with the group situation and needed a moment out in the sanctuary of my own private world”.

The focus was suddenly shifted to her, the issue immediately dropped.

The rest of the group were lovely. One asked if I wanted to go for a walk, then they all just let me be. Normal service resumed minutes later, and I rejoined the conversation refreshed.

The afternoon finished and I dropped the hens from my car back to the brides house. Giving myself an hour to recharge, at home alone. They called to check I was OK, and when I would be back. I collected some bits on the way down and was the last to leave. All in all I had been glad of going. My fear of groups proved largely unfounded, of the eight of us that went only one was a pain. I’m sure she would say the same about me though! One other was questionable. But if 75% of women are nice then I figured it would be safe for me to be more sociable in future.

The following week was the wedding and collaring ceremony.

This time I almost didn’t go. Not because of fear of the crowds, there would be more complete strangers, and I find them inexplicably easier to talk to than acquaintances. This time DrS would be there, and I had recently had to block him after a spell of trying to be friendly. I had no desire to be the cause of a scene at my friends’ wedding so offered not to go. We had been due to attend together, but events turned out to be somewhat different.

The wedding itself was lovely.

A vanilla and family friendly ceremony and afternoon reception. I spoke to the bride’s family and scene friends. I was unused to seeing them in normal attire! My exit was planned as I wanted to get home in time for the boys tea. Mum was staying to look after them, but as with the hen night I needed some sanctuary before the club night and collaring ceremony.

As I got one last cup of tea from the bar (rock and roll, I know) DrS approached and started to talk nicely to me. Then the trial began; he became quite agitated, and was raising his voice. This wasn’t really appropriate behaviour, I reminded him, but he was quickly joined by someone else. Then her husband came too!

Perhaps I was cold hearted, but I maintain that telling him every tiny little way that he irritated me in the 2.5 months we were seeing each other wasn’t going to be helpful to him. Plus, the characteristics he displayed after the end showed further incompatiblities.

Fortunately I was rescued at this point.

Drinking my tea in peace with a my hero, slave lytton, before heading home to my little family.

I enjoy having the opportunity to look back on these times with the self-confidence that I have now. The sureness I have in my decisions today is so different. Through my time with and without Sir I have taken huge leaps of faith, pushing myself and growing.

Both events turned out to be not so tricky as I had initially thought, but I was put in mind of the contestants in the Gladiators (a favourite childhood TV show of mine) when they had to run the gauntlet.

It is for this reason I have decided to share a ropey gauntlet tie as the image.

Not only is this is the Tie Me Up Tuesday prompt for this week. I had intended to use this in my outfit for the collaring ceremony that evening. Which I will tell you about next time I tell you a little about me.

 

Check out the other posts for Tie Me Up Tuesday here.

The Gauntlet of Friendship was first published on A Leap of Faith.

8 comments

  1. You are my hero! “but I curtly informed her that I was “struggling with the group situation and needed a moment out in the sanctuary of my own private world””
    Yes!! Go you for standing up for yourself and turning the situation around so positively. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do that but I might be now because you’ve inspired me. You dealt with all the situations you described here so well and maturely. And by the end of this post I found the gauntlet fit perfect with this post indeed. I love that you made it with rainbow rope. It’s so pretty. I really want one! 😍

    1. Oh ML, we should set up that zoom call soon and do gauntlets! And hair ties!

      It took long enough to learn to stand my ground, and it isn’t failsafe. But I’m glad I’m getting there.

  2. Group dynamics are so complex! That’s a beautiful piece of armour to remember a time when you protected your boundaries and came out victorious though. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Aren’t they just! I can’t believe it took nearly 35 years to learn to navigate them. But I’m glad I have. (The rope took less time to learn!)

  3. I had a large friendship group and then one of them told a lie about another which meant the group ostracised the wrong person! I found out and tried to right it all by telling the truth but of course it just split the group into two.

    I really enjoy reading snippets of your life Barefoot 😉 and more awesome rope work from u
    May x

    1. Lies are horrid.

      Mistakes happen, apologies can be made. But sometimes people reveal themselves as the wrong kind of people for us.

      “People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime” is something that I have learnt. Even those who lie can teach us something. Sadly they are usually the ones who have the loudest drums to bang.

      More snippets coming up! I’m trying to focus on that, I have so many experiences to share and I keep getting distracted by taking naked pictures of myself 🤣 N x

  4. I never do well with big groups, and even though I never avoid them, afterwards I always need “time out” to get back to myself. I wish I had your confidence to ‘curtly inform’ someone when they are being an ass to me. I just always keep my mouth shut, as I don’t want to offend anyone, and in the process I let them offend me. I should take lessons from you 🙂
    Oh and, love that image, and your gauntlet. The rope is amazing!
    ~ Marie

    1. I think it is just practise. And the knowledge that I like to give people the opportunity to treat me in a way that doesn’t hurt me. If they don’t take that then I know who is welcome in my world. People come and go (ex husband proved that when he lied about me to all of “our” friends) but I will always have myself, so I choose to treat me kindly. N xx

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