Was that really me at the restaurant?

Tension, stress, circumstances out of control, losing my true essence. 

Restaurant Chilling Out Classy Lifestyle Reserved Concept
Pixabay

I need to understand what has happened. I need to write and make sense of my actions. Browsing around WordPress I found this challenge, so get ready to listen to me. I’m grateful to have a few minutes of your time.


Last week, while visiting my family and friends by the seaside, I went to a restaurant and I lost control of myself. 
Everything started when my father, a 92-year-old retiree, said he wants to eat a shrimp dish from a famous restaurant in town. It was a great idea to go there, I don’t like shrimp but they have a variety of fish and it will be nice to treat my father with good food. 

I had planned to visit an old family friend during my stay as well, so we decided to invite her and her family to have lunch with us. The restaurant is one of the most expensive in town, the food is delicious and the view is breathtaking.
I thought we would have a wonderful time and I’d take care of the check, it will be a treat for my father and my friend’s family, they are lovely people. 
Early morning, my friend sent me a message telling me that she had invited another couple to go with us. I didn’t like the idea, I thought my father wouldn’t be comfortable around strangers, and I was looking for spending time with my them, not to be worried about small talk, but I didn’t say anything to her. 
Before leaving, my father said that he would pay for everybody. I told him, No! It was a treat to him and I would pay, or we would divide the bill since now more people are coming. 

The event that should have been cozy friends get together now turned out to be a social kind of meeting.When I was getting ready I had the feeling that things wouldn’t turn our nice. Do you know, the intuition! But as usual, I didn’t listen to it! 
At the restaurant, my father looked for the shrimp dish he wanted, and when he saw the price, $ 250.00, he said he didn’t want it anymore, I told him, it’s ok, we came here for it. He said he didn’t want it because he didn’t like one of the ingredients in the dish. I said Ok, they have other shrimp dishes and we can get another one. My friend and her family arrived and she said we should order a combo dish and everyone share it, the restaurant has some dishes that feed 6 people.

I was already getting stressed, I didn’t care what I would eat since my father and kids had what they want. We were a total of 9 people, my kids don’t like fish and they quickly chose a beef dish to share, my friend’s husband and kid chose a fish dish to share as well, and the rest of us shared a shrimp dish. Remember that I don’t like shrimp! I gave all the shrimp from my share to my father and ate only a little bit of rice. 
When we were still eating the desert, my father got his credit card and told me to ask the check, that he was going to pay.  I imagined it would be almost 1/2 of his monthly pension. I said no, you won’t pay it, he started to insist. Everybody laughing, talking, and I was feeling I was going to explode, do you know the feeling, when you want to hide in a black hole. I wasn’t happy with the food, I didn’t like all the pressure. 

Adding the appetizers, drinks, and deserts the bill was around 1000.00. I wasn’t going to let my father pay for it, I know how it is difficult for him to keep up with his budget. I wasn’t paying it either, I felt it wasn’t fair since I was the one that ate the least and wasn’t have fun.  So the question: How to divide it? My friend said, we divide by 3; my family, her family and the couple. I said it wasn’t fair to the couple. The couple said, we divide per the number of the people, and pay according. I’m not sure but didn’t think that it would be fair either. I got hold of the bill, my phone’s calculator and started to add each small thing that each one had eaten or drunk. My friend agreed and helped me to do the calculations. In the end, we paid exactly what our families had consumed. I was in so much stress that I forgot the pin for my credit card, I had to try 2 times before it went through, my mind was completed blank.

I left the restaurant drained. And now one week later I’m still thinking about it. What did happen to me? Why was I so cheap? I could have paid the full bill or at least a half, but I only wanted to leave that place. Recently my threshold is decreasing, I can’t keep up being around people, I can’t think straight when I’m in a situation of stress. Now, I’m back home and instead of thinking about all the other moments of joy I had during the trip I’m feeling guilty for my actions. 

Well, thanks for listening! If you are still here, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my behaviour. 

33 thoughts on “Was that really me at the restaurant?

  1. I can relate. Ex partner invited his cousins to join us for a meal, telling them they could have what they liked as he was paying. Change that to Me. He didn’t have any money in his wallet, and insisted that drinks went on the bill too. They all ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. I had a cheese sandwich. When asked, I said I couldn’t afford anything else as I hadn’t anticipated paying for everybody. No-one offered to help me out either.
    It wasn’t the first time I’d been caught. We invited friends to join us for a celebration and at the end of the meal, they said thanks very much, they’d do the same for us. The bill was some £60 (1981). This was expected some months later when they came up to stay. I was very cautious about ordering, and when the bill came, she got out a pen and paper to divide up the cost. I said I thought they’d agreed on paying to which she stormed off in a huff. I offered to pay our share, but her partner said no, it was only right as I paid last time. The friendship ended that weekend.
    It’s difficult when you want to treat the ones you love, but sometimes it just gets out of hand. I lost count of the number of times I ended up footing the bill for meals out. Eventually, I stopped going and if they wanted to go out they were on their own budget.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s difficult when people can’t see the boundaries, the limits. I think as you do much, people are always expecting more, and the day we say it’s enough they judge us. And sadly, as in your case, friendship ended.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sadly it happens. I had several discussion with my MIL about shopping bills or taking her out for a meal on her birthday. If we invite someone to join us, we don’t expect them to pay, but these days its only tea and cake so no hardship.

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  2. I’ve faced these situations – guests bringing in more guests, expensive drinks being ordered which cost more than the food. Pleasure outings end with strained expressions and quick goodnights. Unfortunately, the people who provoke you also go around bad-mouthing you.

    On the other side, there are apps which split the bill amount, so that ppl can pay for themselves. It happens in a lot of startup meets.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I rarely go out to restaurants. The crowd, the business, and the hurry make me stressed. But being out of town it was nice to try to have some fun, sadly it wasn’t a good experience. I didn’t know about apps for the bill, it’s a great idea!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will check – and thanks – we recently had a large group and it was time consuming as people figured out their amounts – ours was easy because we don’t drink alcohol anymore – easy to figure and relatively cheap (alcohol is expensive)

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I think you did the right thing and don’t beat yourself up in the slightest for breaking down the bill! It shows wise money managing on your part! And there are times to just “take the bill and pay it” but this was not one of them and you might have a robbed feeling right now if you paid the whole tab!
    And by the way! Your heart is kind to even ponder all that/ you sound very calculated and caring – two very good qualities!
    And don’t let this rob your joy! But it is okay if it feels heavy. Because social dynamics bring mess – and angst – and all that because it can also bring dish ness and fun! I am a little burned out right now from social get togethers and decided to pull back for a month. Actually got the idea from the “whole30” author who talked about hunkering down to finish projects (and I have projects big time to finish before year ends)
    And so I am skipping our Monday small group for the rest of the year – to have the night for projects but to also decompress from social so I can come back with freshness in January!
    And so as you ponder and recover a bit –
    -😊
    smile because your dad will not be around forever and the night was not a complete flop! Although it likely makes you cringe to imagine being knit picky about items on the bill! But there is a humility that comes with doing that- and mindfulness of budget – and sorry tu we’re stressed and forgot your pin – part of that was maybe from not having some meat/protein! Mmmmm – few bites of rice is not going to feed or calm the body – ha

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    1. Mindfulness of budget and money management! I haven’t thought about it! I feel a little better looking from this point of view. I should focus on the positive and be grateful for the joy of having my father and kids together in there. Usually I’m pretty good seeing the positive, but I think it was, like you said, the social dynamics, trying to please so many in different ways.
      Letting go of few things to make space for others, it is a big step but I needed one. I like the idea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was nice of you to share your story here because from some of the other comments and seeing my response – well you brought up a topic so many of us can relate with!
        Like once – years ago – I invited 4 couples to join us for our anniversary (we said entrees were our treat) when my friend K arrived – she was put off that other couples were there – she Prefers less folks and “assumed” just the four of us! I look back to that time and see I was “hungry” for social and needed/wanted the group vibe! I sometimes have seasons like that now – but have come to also like times of less (if that makes sense) and so your friend that invited the others – was likely thinking like I was back in the day – let’s all get together and more the merrier (something like that)
        Oh and I cannot believe the shrimp dinner cost 250.00
        Yikes

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      2. I’m so glad I wrote this post. I wasn’t sure if I should open up this way, generally I don’t write much about my feelings. But my thoughts were suffocating me, now I see the situation from another point of view.
        We change so much as the years go by, it’s difficult for old friends understand that what seems ok for them isn’t anymore for us.
        Oh, yes! The shrimp dish price was unbelievable!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We sure do change !! And we hardly eat out anymore because we prefer food at home (and too often they use industrial oils – even at nice restaurants – and we try to eat as clean as possible – have to)
        Anyhow One more quick story that came to mind with your post- if I may…
        Years ago – MIL and her new spouse came to east coast and visited us and then went to visit other family three hours away! They insisted on taking us all out to dinner – well the place I wanted happened to be expensive – I did not pick it for that – we had not been there and used to like that similar place in Denver – but my hubs was like “let’s pick a cheaper place” (and cost was not at all a factor to them) so we ended up going to a place in town that had a special priced burger that night and a place we go regularly! It ended well because we had the entire back room to ourselves and great server – later – when they went to the other family and took them out – they dined at this Uber expensive seafood place – and I had to laugh-
        Okay – enough about that -But we did get blessed for picking the place we did
        Getting to the point of my story
        Remember we went in on the night of the special? So that means the bill was cheap and the guy paying did not realize you do not tip 20% of the bill on special night – it is too little for the server –
        It was also Xmas and should add more –
        But he didn’t – and get this – I ran back in to check the tip (with hubs) and then went to bar and asked them to add a tip from my debit card! I was thinking of that when you said you forgot your pin twice

        And whew – sometimes these dining experiences have layers

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      4. I’m happy my post is bringing memories back to you! I agree not all the expensive places are nice and we can find good food in a simple place. Nice of you to go back to add the tip, for sure dining out sometimes turns out to be an unforgettable experience!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I try to bring a little cash now the rare times we eat out
        Just in case the service warrants that extra bit 😊☀️
        And wishing you a great rest of your weekend

        Like

  4. Oh, I truly feel for you! I so hate it when social situations like that get out of hand and are effectiely hijacked by other people’s plans. Just put it all behind you, and next time you want to treat your dad, maybe just treat your dad and no-one else 🙂

    Like

    1. I love solitude, to be by myself, so going out and meet people always make me uncomfortable, and when things get out of hand, for sure it’s headache for many days. Hope I’ve learnt the lesson! Only to post my dilemma here is making me feel better.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s the value of family, and stepping in for your dad. Your instincts were on, even if it wasn’t your scene or preference. No one ever became poor by being kind or generous. It’s the people who matter.

    Like

    1. Instincts! I didn’t think about it, you are completely right. I shouldn’t punish myself for trying to do the best to dad, or myself. Now I understand why my mind was shutting down, the stress and the wish to fly away from there. It was the survival instinct! As I told in one of the comments here, I’m so glad I wrote this post, everything seems clear now.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my, I feel sorry for you being put in this situation. It wasn’t fair to you one bit. I spent most of the time worrying about your Dad’s digestion, eating shrimps does not sound good. I hope that in the end you will have a good memory of your Dad.

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    1. My dad is a tough guy, at this age he drives, cooks, goes shopping… he feels alone, so when we get together I try to make all his wishes come true, and this time the shrimp was what he needs, and he got it!
      I’m mostly of the time by myself too, so getting together with people in this social gatherings isn’t easy to me.

      Like

  7. justonerobin

    I love that you wrote this.And my first thought is: There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of your behavior…clearly you are a sensitive person (possibly HSP?) and plans shifting to include unexpected folks at the last minute would be upsetting(definitely would be for me!) And the whole bill thing causing stress is understandable especially because it was a very high total. Boundaries are SO critical in these situations and I think you handled it just fine. Possibly the next time you can just make it clear to your friend that you would like to keep it to just the folks in the original plan to avoid confusion. And those bill apps would probably be a lifesaver as well.

    Like

    1. I’m really a sensitive person, but I have trouble in setting up boundaries, generally I go with the flow and get hurt at the end. I’m going to have a look at those apps and get them ready for next time, I can imagine it will far from now.

      Like

  8. I read this last night and had to think it over because I knew I wanted to respond. Your gut feeling was so spot on–as our gut feelings always are. I tend to let things bottle up–I hold them in until I want to explode–goodness, we are alike! But then, your friend might have thought she was being nice by inviting someone else to dinner with you, but I don’t see it that way. This is probably why I don’t go out to eat much (I LOVE to cook) and why if I do, it is just me and my husband. And you are not cheap, Elizabeth! Each person paying for their own–I think that is exactly how it should have been. Whew. Too much stress, Elizabeth.

    Like

    1. We are really alike, I’ve to prepare the food for me and my family too. When my father told me he was craving shrimp, the first thing I said to him “I will cook it for you!” But them he said that I was there on vacation and it wasn’t fair I spend the time in the kitchen. I’m sure my shrimp will be more delicious and less stressful!
      I don’t know why I always have this feeling that I wasn’t good or nice enough pleasing people, I always let them have their own way. I hope I’ve learnt my lesson! Have a great week my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my dear Elizabeth! What a stress!
    I’m so sorry that this has happened to you, I know you’re sensitive, and being sensitive myself, it would have been a tremendous stress for me! I’m very glad I have chosen to not find myself in that kind of situations anymore, but that’s another story.
    As for what happened to you, I think you’ve been very brave to do that, and seems to me the very best thing to do in that situation (at least, it is what I would have done, too!). It’s fair that every person/family pays for what they have consumed (unless it’s an anniversary/wedding meal or anything like that, where you arranged agree the price ahead of time with the restaurant). You took a fantastic move in my opinion, the one that has lead to well- being and peace for you all!! Every person has paid for what they ordered, and that’s perfect. Imagine if the couple would have had to pay more had you decided to split in 3!! No way! That’s very unfair. You suggested the best option of all.
    In my “former life”, my husband and I often found ourselves out at the restaurant and paying for friends (more than once!) who never reciprocated. Other times, we found ourselves splitting the bill and paying more than we had consumed. That’s not fair, and not at all something that I agree with, and makes me angry and stressed in the end! We don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat dessert most of the times, and there are people who use to order a lot of stuff, and in the end you have to pay for them (and maybe, they’re complete strangers to you!). As I said previously, one thing is to go out with family and that’s it- I’m fine paying for them all. Or with dear friends, I’m ok with that too and paying the whole bill myself, if I have started with that idea. But if there are other people and we go out to the restaurant, the right thing to do is to divide the bill exactly as you’ve done. A better move would be in my opinion to tell that in the beginning, as soon as you sit down- so everyone knows and is responsible for their own actions.
    I don’t like going to the restaurant at all, I’m too sensitive, I get stressed, I don’t like the pressure. I prefer places where the eating is relaxed, like bakeries for example, where you take your own food to the table, or any place that is super quiet and not crowded, and where I don’t feel rushed or pressured. For this reason, I’ve always invited friends at home, cooking for everyone myself (even for 8 people or more!), but at least we’re at home and I decide what we’re going to eat and spend, and that’s it. In recent years I haven’t done that anymore, and have changed on that front, too (too much stress), and now my life has changed so much that I don’t feel the need for that, really. Better to go out for a picnic, or to invite just a couple of friends at a time. At Christmastime I used to prepare, pay and cook for all our families, and it was a ginormous stress! So I changed my attitude and decided everyone had to bring something, either food or drinks. Much better, and I, too, could have fun!
    In any case, I applaud you, and do not feel guilty at all! I’m proud of you my dear!
    Much love,
    Monica xoxo

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    1. I don’t like to go out for eating either. All the noise, and being served by stranges, really restaurants aren’t my favourite place, but sometimes we need to change a bit, and since I was out of town, it was a good idea. I know I did the right thing, but my mind keeps going back and playing different sceneries, I don’t know why I have this need to be perfect, to do everything to please others. I’m getting tired, exhausted is the better word for my feelings right now. It’s not in the restaurant, but at work too. I need my space, and I’m always nice, so people are always trying to take advantage, expecting that I will do what they want without saying anything or asking anything back. it’s so difficult to show that it is enough! Thanks so much for being here, you always inspire me, you show me freedom and that I can reach it.

      Like

  10. I recently read The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. She says that as women approach midlife, our brains literally get rewired to become more intuitive, so that we notice — and get annoyed and stressed by — the people-pleasing cultural expectations that didn’t seem so bad before. The subconscious mind lets us know that we can’t keep on going through life always putting ourselves last.

    Earlier this year, I blew my top and yelled at my son for putting junk in my basement. I had been planning to make that space into an exercise room for years, but nobody helped me to clean it up. So when I saw that my son had put even more stuff in there, I told him this is my house and I don’t want junk in it, and he’d better take whatever he wants to keep to a storage unit, pronto! He took it all out that same day. Over the winter I’m going to paint that area, get it looking nice, and buy a rowing machine.

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    1. This book seems great! I used to follow her up on Twitter. I’m exhausted to try to please everybody, it’s really the feeling I’m going to explode. I know I did the right thing, but my mind keeps going back and thinking about other sceneries like if I have split the bill in 1/2, paid all of it? Why do I need to punish me? Your point is right, middle-age, we are in the middle of everything: put us first, give our space to others! The mind needs to adapt, and it’s not easy.
      You set boundaries, you claimed your space when requesting the basement to be clean. Brave you! I know it wasn’t easy for you, setting boundaries and claiming our space are the most difficult thing to do, for all the women, but at our age, it’s much difficult, everybody is used to us giving up our rights, and they expect to be like that. I hope you have fun redecorating your basement, and maybe your son will enjoy the new space too.

      Like

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