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Once I could see my part in things, it was easier to begin to detach from the drama. This mending was hastened one day by a whiff of my self-righteousness. I noticed that there was something weirdly gratifying about being left out. I was hurt, done to. That came with a social power of its own. People who wished to maintain a relationship with me needed to attend to my feelings. There was maneuvering and inquiring on my behalf. One day I found that I was enjoying my role as the injured one. That's when I caught on to myself and knew I had to let the whole thing go.

You may be surprised to learn that the most healing thing I did was to apologize. Some weeks after the party I phoned the host and said I was sorry for anything I may have done that was harmful to his marriage. I did that because I was tired of "poor me, I got left out." My apology was met with many denials on his part and the assurance that what happened on New Year's Eve was merely a matter of limited space. Still, I felt marvelously free of my victim status the instant the phone call was complete.

Fortunately, I had other social circles and other invitations for New Year's Eve. That is the resource open to adults that weeping fifth graders do not have. When the cool crowd won't make room for you at the lunch table, you are left to sit alone. When the cool crowd leaves you out of a pajama party 30 years later, you can find a welcome in other cool crowds. It may take you some time, but they are out there.

I was fortunate that my husband is so socially independent that he needed a detailed explanation before he could appreciate the slight. To him a pajama party is just a pajama party, not a vote on his self-worth. I can't tell you that his obliviousness to being left out changed my emotional truth, but it was an occasional relief to try it on for size.

Time passed and that always helps. Other dinners, parties, and phone calls were exchanged. I frequently cross paths with the couple who excluded us. We are always cordial. My husband and I are busy planning a fall football blowout and their names are on the list. I believe in detachment, I believe in repairing rips in the social fabric, and I am certain that I have moved on. But I have to admit I am having just a little trouble actually mailing them an invitation.

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