Fondue For One aka Cheese And Whine

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Yeah, we know who you are, He-Man.  No need to show off.  Jeez...get a girlfriend or something.
Yeah, we know who you are, Mr. Universe. No need to show off. Jeez…get a girlfriend or something.

The Universe is unilaterally focused on exposing and revealing itself through the revelations within us all. Or at least I feel that way when it seems that everything is pointing towards something, and I am blissfully unaware. Until I am aware. It’s like when a bird poops on your head (which has happened to me no less than three times in my life) and everyone can see it but you. You know that something isn’t right, but you can’t put your finger on it (nor would you want to – have you seen what birds eat?) Sometimes I feel that there is a certain nudge and push that is more than subtle when it comes to me.

For example, I have been hearing a few people talk about some certain fears they have had as of late. Someone I know with many years almost went back out last week. A few other folks in my recovery circles have also struggled mightily and have gone back to the bottle. Some have held on to their recovery by the edges of their fingernails. And the one thing that has been discussed is fears. Then, today, I was asked to research and write something for a newsletter – and the topic was fears (now, I did choose that one, so it’s not so out-of-this-worldy, but the topic popped out off the screen when I looked at the available topics). I have also been having a nagging feeling that I need to look into something. Something within. And the first word that popped up for me when I asked the question to myself was of course, F-E-A-R.

We all have fears. All of us. We sometimes can’t put a word to it, or define that feeling, but often we move and act out of fears. Not the type of fear where we flinch when we see a spider (like I do), or the fear of heights or the fear of Garbage Pail Kids (guilty again…and boy did I date myself there). The fears I talk about are the ones that we often aren’t fully aware of – the fear of success, the fear of failure, the fear of judgement, the fear of not being liked, etc. The kind of fears that drive anger, resentment, violence, isolation, poor judgement, inappropriate actions, etc. Notice that alcohol isn’t even mentioned in anything so far. That’s because alcohol is our way of dealing with some or all of these fears. Alcohol use could certainly propel these things – we act out with less inhibition and more impulse. We feed the ego more poison and we get a lump of coal in return.

At least it's vegan.
At least it’s vegan.

It all comes down to fears.

 

And the one fear that comes back to me over and over again, and has been revealing itself more and more to me lately, is the fear of getting close to others. Not a good fear to have when one of the biggest parts of my recovery is predicated on connecting with other alcoholics, and finding the fellowship that I can be of service to. Not a good fear to have when I am trying to have my outlook on life changed, or when trusting and being in tune with others is an integral part to my psychic and emotional changes.

 

I was always immaculately selective in who I would invite into my emotional circle.  Now, with crushing low self-esteem, if there was a whisper of you liking me, you were automatically in.  Nice selection process, eh?  But other than that, my grandiosity and ego would look down at 99.999% of you and not deem you “worthy” of my “friendship”. Whatever that meant.  What was really going on was that I was frightened.  To death.  I didn’t understand or know what it was like to really get to know someone or to allow myself to get intimate with others (and by intimate, I don’t necessarily mean physically or romantically – just that opening up of ourselves to another).  I didn’t know how to accept when someone tried to bear themselves to me, emotionally.  I didn’t know how to even have fun, let alone get chummy with others.  Unless alcohol was involved, of course.

 

I invited people in, then pushed them away.  I feared what they could bring to me, and what I could bring to them.  I didn’t think I could bring anything to their lives, so I let things deflate.  My “lesser than” attitude brought me crashing down and didn’t think anyone wanted anything to do with me.  I compared my insides with their outsides, and was always on the losing end of that equation.  I soured on myself, and the relationship.  I dropped people like a rapper drops rhymes – with reckless abandon.  I just didn’t know how to do relationships, of any kind.

 

And that’s why the casual acquaintance saved my social butt.  It was safe, it was painless and it gave me the illusion that I was connecting with others.  If I could stop and say hi to someone on the street, make polite conversation for 12.87 seconds and be on my merry way, well hell, I had a very active social day.  Don’t you know who I am?  I felt like the Godfather walking on his turf.  I pictured people handing me cannoli, tender mozzarella and freahly baked calzone while singing songs from the old country.  The reality is that I would beat a hasty retreat back to my headphones or to my house or to the bus where I would be in my heavenly cocoon of secrecy and isolation.  Safe and sound.

 

Capisce?
Capisce?

And while I have had no choice  learned to be with others in an intimate way (my sponsor, one or two other members of the fellowship), I still cower to this day when it comes to getting to know someone for real.  Since getting into recovery and sobriety, I really haven’t opened myself up much more than I have before.  Sure I have this blog, but it’s easy stuff – I write, and I walk away.  No emotional residue, in terms of getting to the icky stuff inside of me.  I mean, I do get to the nitty gritty of my emotional landscape, but there isn’t someone in front of me when I do it. There is a certain arm’s length to it.  And that’s the safety zone.  When I have to actually shake your hand, then I am already hatching my escape plan.

 

The other day I ran into a guy from the rooms.  I shook his hand, said his name, and I could tell that he didn’t quite remember where he knew me from.  This happens a lot to me.  I used to get really pissed off and my ego and pride would take hatchet shots from this, but I have learned to let much of it go.  But I still do get annoyed and hurt.  And that was one day that I did.  I chastise myself – maybe if you went to more meetings and did service you would be remembered.  Maybe if you were loud and shook hands more and went for coffee more, they would remember your name.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  But I don’t do any of those things.  Perhaps unconsciously I want to be forgotten.

 

This is nothing new to me.  This is not a revelation.  Now, I am not exactly auditioning for new friends face-to-face, but there is always a bit of an empty part in me.  I feel that part getting tapped every now and then when I hit a meeting, or when I am working with another man, or I get that twinge when I am corresponding to someone about recovery and stuff.  But outside of that, there seems to be a cover on the well.  A shroud.  A veil of unavailability that seems so familiar and yet haunting.  Do I want a connection with others, to be open and willing to work at something? Not sure.  Perhaps it’s the work part of it that scares me.  Perhaps it’s that I will have to get out of my comfort zone and think of others.  Perhaps it means that I will have to completely reveal myself and hope that no one runs to the hills.

 

Strangely, me and my new buddy are very comfortable with one another.
Strangely, me and my new buddy are very comfortable with one another.

That’s how my mind works.  I envy the close relationships that women tend to have, and even some of the men I know (passingly) in my life.  I wonder what it’s like to have someone know you better than you know yourself.  I wonder what it’s like to have someone (other than my immediate family) who I can just chill out with and not even have to speak.  I don’t think I am cut from that cloth (same as I don’t know what it’s like to have cousins, let’s say).  Or I just refuse to go to that tailor shop.  Then again, I also sigh in relief in knowing that I one less thing (sorry, person) to worry about.  That I don’t have to drop what I’m doing and race over to be of service.

 

Holy shit, that’s pretty selfish, isn’t it?  But that’s where I am at, deep down.  I am selfish still, in so many ways.

 

So as I bemoan and groan about this nonsense, I realize it’s not only fear, but self-seeking motives that keep me at bay with so much of humanity.  Great alcoholic thinking.  Lovely.  But that’s me at this moment.  Will it be different tomorrow?  Probably not, but hopefully there will be some changes.  But I am not willing to change right now. Defiance.  More alcoholic thinking.   Lone wolf-ism.  Even more alcoholic thinking.  Then again, do I have to be a Richard Simmons-esque, gregarious, hugging, love muffin who is always in touch with every other person in the world to be connected to others?  Of course not, I am being facetious.  But it certainly isn’t where I am living right now.  Not this address, chief.

 

While I am not in Cohen’s Lonely Wooden Tower, there are times I visit it.  Put down some fresh carpet, make a delicious fondue for one.  But I have to learn to accept that this is where I am right now.  I don’t expect to unlearn 40 years of self-defensive thinking in a few short years.  Perhaps some others can get to that place right away.  I applaud them, as I am not sure I can get there for a while.  Or perhaps who I have in my life is all I need and I am fretting about nothing.  More alcoholic thinking.  In the end, I can’t have anyone make me feel better about myself or have some sort of friendship scaffolding to hold my sense of serenity together.  It doesn’t work that way.

 

Anyway, here endeth the lesson.  No Oprah-like soft endings like I usually finish off with.  No inspirational placards. But just pure and ugly truth.  And that’s something that will bring me some new revelations.  The Universe is never wrong. And neither is its Creator.

She's got nothing for you, believe me.
Maybe *she’s* the real Master of the Universe after all. Hmmm…..

 

39 Comments Add yours

  1. Yep. I love when I get a message in my inbox saying you’ve blogged because then I have to, I mean get to, have an opportunity to look at what I’m doing.
    Barriers up between me and the universe are all too common. Fear of rejection, judgment, imperfection. The list rambles on. What I’m actually doing is fearing that others will do what I do. Retraining my brain to think without judgment is pretty hard. After all, I’m pretty great. haha. But, part of my recovery is to keep digging and to slow down. If I can shut my brain down long enough, I may actually connect with some women on an emotional level through my meetings. Shudder. It boils down to my ego. I don’t think about the people I meet for hours on end so why in the hell would they think that way about me? Even if I were famous like Faith Hill who has managed to stick with Timmy through his 7 years of sobriety and 17 years of marriage , I have never found myself thinking, “How would Faith feel about this? Would she handle herself differently than I would? Would she react like me?” No. this isn’t realistic. So why then do I think normal everyday people go about their days consumed with me even if just for a moment?
    Ego. Any my low self-esteem? Ego just in a perverse way. I’m not worth anybody thoughts. I can’t do this..blah blah blah.
    Solution? Hell if I know. But I have to take a different path because this current door is closed.
    And, I might add, I have yet to know many women who have AUTHENTIC emotional ties. We are emotional, yes. But have you been successful in getting a woman to think like you do in the heat of her tears? I mean, has your wife ever abruptly stopped crying and look you in the eye and say, “Wow, I never thought of that. You are so right. Thanks. I can go about my day now and never think of this again.” Like alcoholism, emotions are just that- emotions. No race, no barrier, no gender preference. I totally get what your point was, but I think -just as an alcoholic woman anyway- that all you’ve written applies to me, too. I can fool myself into thinking I am close with my gal pals. But I am a master at deception. I can honestly make someone think I give a shit when inside I am thinking what I need to get at the grocery store. Unlike SOME men, I can put on a face of concern and appear genuine. I’m not proud of this, but I am aware that intimacy on any level is difficult and another area I need to work on.

    Great read! I related to so much even if I didn’t want to!
    Hugs,
    Linda
    p.s. I think society perpetuates the notion of dealing with our feelings independently. I mean, have you ever seen a double snuggie blanket?? Nope, all solo. Sure wish I took home ec more seriously in high school cause I might have to sew one. lol

    1. Linda – this was amazing and real and so helpful on so many levels. What you say about ego is bang on, and your perspective as a woman and the intimacy / authenticity is something that I am very grateful for you to share about. If my writing thoughts regarding women are skewed, it’s probably true – I don’t grow up with any sisters, cousins, female friends, etc. so my image and perception is warped, no doubt. Or based on absolutely no knowledge whatsoever. So this is immensely helpful insight.I guess I look at the outside and see what I feel is authenticity. I am sure that there are some friendships like that. I just don’t have that experience yet in my life. I can’t speak to it. But it’s great to hear perspectives like yours. (What would Faith say?? ha ha – used to have a crush on her)

      I can’t thank you enough Linda for your comments – you really made my day here.

      Blessings
      Paul

      1. Thanks, Paul. I just think sometimes women get too much credit for being “allowed” to be emotional. In my experience, I have used this free pass to be manipulative and deceitful. I know I am not alone or unique, too. I do, though, believe that some people are genuine both males and females; my problem is that by the laws of attraction, I am still too “sick” to meet said individuals. I also hope you didn’t take my comments are criticism of your perspective.

        Hugs,
        Linda

        1. Oh goodness no – I didn’t at all take it as a criticism of my perspective. Even if it was, that’s okay – we all are allowed our perspective! I have really enjoyed your take on this. What I think happens and the reality are often light years apart, so you’ve really been helpful, Linda. But I understand what you say about the genuine / not-genuine thing. We can all be manipulative, and alcoholics / addicts are notorious for being that. Nothing to be proud of, of course.

          Thanks again!

          Paul

  2. sherryd32148 says:

    You’re right…the Universe is never wrong…read my post today .

    I find it’s much easier for me to be of service to others and to open myself to them. I bare it all, warts and all and they can take it or leave it. The problem is that I don’t let them reciprocate. I don’t let them help me or take care of me. A true relationship is a back and forth. That’s my definition of intimacy.

    But, like you, I’m learning. We’re a process remember?

    Sherry

    1. I read your post, and I get what you say. And I feel the same – we will slink down one road or another, even if it has nothing to do with booze.

      I also understand what you say here. I was similar in some ways – I would play the martyr and not let anyone help me in any way, even if I was desperate for it. Ego in another manifestation. That back and forth you talk about is difficult for me – it’s either all me or all them. Not much wiggle room. I have gotten better, but of course I am a work-in-progress (aren’t we all).

      Thanks for this, Sherry. New insight, as usual.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  3. Twindaddy says:

    We’re a lot alike in this regard, Paul.

    1. Nice to know we are not alone in this. Thanks for sharing, kind sir.

  4. byebyebeer says:

    Friendships all at once feel warm and fuzzy and ill-fitting. I am not a people person but I love people. What I’m trying to say is I feel this post. I get it. I’m an introvert and I have to take baby steps to relationships with real people. Online friendships are really cool on a variety of levels, but perhaps it is the instant, selective intimacy that make them easier for me.

    I also must comment on the forgettable thing you mentioned. This has been true for me my whole life. Something about my face or presence makes people forget they ever met me, even though I rarely forget a face (names, on the other hand…). I have to laugh about it really and know it has a lot to do with how I carry myself. I want so badly not be noticed, my dream comes true.

    A great post Paul. Always happy to see you noodling these hard things through so thoughtfully.

    1. “I am not a people person but I love people.” I am curious as to what this means, Kristen. Sounds paradoxical.

      I identify with what you said about something about you carrying yourself that makes you forgettable. I am the same as you in that (now that I am sober and clear headed) I am very good with faces (and sometimes names). I had someone tell me that the other alkies I would re-introduce myself to over and over again might not be all there…ha ha. Well, like you, it’s happened with the normies, so I always felt self-conscious of that…but learned to let it go, for the most part. I just have my days. (Dream come true…funny)

      Yeah, noodling through it isn’t easy. Had a rough one today on the heels of this, with lots of anger bursting through. I have some amends to make tomorrow. Another day.

      Thank you for this. meant a lot to read what you said.

      Paul

      1. byebyebeer says:

        People person to me means someone who is friendly and energized by interactions with others. I tend to feel the opposite. I love individuals, though. Love their stories and even the contradictory ways they think and feel. I like real people with paradoxical thinking and grey areas. In groups, some of that gets lost. Not necessarily here, though. The anger, I get it. I know it. It passes more quickly when I let it. I hope today is better for you.

        1. Ah okay – thank for clarifying. I am great one-on-one for the most part (depending on the topic), but once another energy enters the picture, I tend to slink back. It’s almost automatic.

          Today was better, thanks for asking. I have to admit I was up for an hour in the middle of the night trying to forget it all, but it still had a hold on me. Resentments…ugh. I will have to do some work on it. 🙂

          Thanks again!

          Paul

  5. Paul, this was an poignant and eloquent read. You have such a way with words. It’s a gift. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with the urge to want to drink, but I have been intimate with fear in all that that entails throughout the better part of my life. Reading your post reminded me of the times I had difficulty really connecting with people even though they didn’t know it. I did connect but not on a level I wanted to. I was always on the outside looking in. People connected with the my social persona because of societal expectations that were ingrained in me at a very early age. As you recently read in a guest post I did, I was conditioned by my parents, by my teachers, by religious leaders, and my culture to be polite, not authentic. So it’s much easier and less stressful to be alone and be authentic than hang out with people who simply want to see that side of you which society expects.

    I was having a conversation with my mother just yesterday, and I told her I’d rather be alone than to be with someone/people with whom I can’t be myself with, flaws and all. Does that make me selfish? Is being me selfish? I don’t consider introverts selfish.

    “Or perhaps who I have in my life is all I need and I am fretting about nothing.”

    Perhaps that is the case. My mom and step-dad, who have been married over 40 years are best friends. They are content with each others’ company. I enjoy my own company, and I am selective with those I want in my immediate circle. I see nothing wrong with that. They are the ones who see ‘me’, and want to be around ‘me’. When I stopped comparing, I became content.

    But if you are not content with your circumstances — then that’s something you will have to work out, of course. But if you are content with your own microcosm, then there’s no need to be intimate with every star, every planet, every galaxy in the universe. Just be. 🙂

    *hug*

    1. I was laughing Victoria, because I didn’t feel it was elegant at all. I almost didn’t publish it because it felt “ranty”. But thank you for the kind words.

      I think fears need not be related to booze (I don’t think I even mentioned booze in the post much), so I am glad it resonated with you. I think fears and connections with others is universal, and you clearly show that with what you shared. Polite, not authentic…love that. There is a certain conditioning that we all go through, bad or good or none of the above.

      “So it’s much easier and less stressful to be alone and be authentic than hang out with people who simply want to see that side of you which society expects.” I love this because this strikes a chord with me. I would rather just be “me” and alone than put on a mask for others. And the mask was alcohol and vice-versa. Others put on a show, sans booze. Others get into massive people pleasing. We all have our ways.

      “I was having a conversation with my mother just yesterday, and I told her I’d rather be alone than to be with someone/people with whom I can’t be myself with, flaws and all. Does that make me selfish? Is being me selfish? I don’t consider introverts selfish.” Good question. I don’t have an answer. It can be read as both. Perhaps us holding back on our authentic self might be seen as selfish, but I read more fear, as in we fear how others will react. And God forbid if they like us still!

      Thanks for the insightful and wise comments, Victoria. You rock.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  6. jrj1701 says:

    Ahh fear, the other side of the tangled skein that we call life. I one time heard that all emotions are derivative of just two, love and fear and that both were necessary to our well being. When I heard this I immediately dismissed it as an over simplification, yet the more I listen to others the more that this duality keeps making itself evident. Fear can cripple and cause undue stress, and I tend to fear and love the wrong things and realizing that has helped to make the choice to align my fears and loves towards the ways that are good for me and others, this can be a long hard process, I have to figure out the moves, to practice the notes, to sand off the rough edges, to acquire the knowledge, to learn how to fix the mistakes, and not refuse to play because I fear I will screw up, or that others will screw me up.

    1. I have heard that too, about the two things all emotions come from, and I believe it. It took me time to understand when they said that anger comes from fear. I thought it the other way around most of my life.

      “I have to figure out the moves, to practice the notes, to sand off the rough edges, to acquire the knowledge, to learn how to fix the mistakes, and not refuse to play because I fear I will screw up, or that others will screw me up.” – This is very powerful stuff, JR. Thank you for this. Loved it.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  7. I’ve never had those close relationships that some women have and I consider myself lucky to have two women that I can sincerely call friends. I recently started getting chummy with another mom, which is exciting and terrifying. She’s the first person I’ve made an effort to befriend in many years and I have no idea what I’m doing! Like you, acquaintances were my safe zone for all the reasons you mentioned. Paul, whenever I need another reason to be grateful for my sobriety, I read a post like this. My attempt to get to know this woman would be fraught with anxiety (will she like me? am I interesting enough? I need to show off for her, etc.) and instead I’m letting the process take its course knowing that all I have to do is be myself and it’ll be fine. It’s not easy making friends but nothing is as easy as it looked from the outside when I was in a constant state of numb. I love your insights Paul!

    1. Glad this resonated in some way, Karen. I am also glad for you in connecting with others, in a non-recovery way…ha ha. That’s something I am going to have to learn – talk to others and have it NOT be recovery based. A bit tough at the moment. But I like how you think – letting the process take its course is best, without trying to sabotage or force feed the outcome. Ego is involved in both regards.

      I do have to say that talking to other kids’ parents is a transition for me, and have had some success in. Some talk food with me (they know what I do), some talk running, some talk kids talk (of course). So it’s putting the toe in the water type stuff. I never thought of this until you mentioned it – so thank you!

      Glad you’re here, Karen…you always add something rich to the mix 🙂

      Paul

  8. Oh, Paul! I know exactly what you mean! I am an extrovert, I like lots of people around me, lots of people who I don’t know is even better! Somehow I have an easier time opening to a stranger that I will never see again, than to a dear friend who I see often. My sponsor recently told me, after calling her in a panic about a situation I felt helpless about, that it would be more beneficial if told her about these things before they explode. That got me thinking about why I haven’t told her about this. I have known the woman for 4 years, she has helped me through many tough times, I’ve done the 5th step(several times) with her for God’s sake and yet… I still held the doors closed.

    It’s like I want the intimacy but I don’t know how to be intimate. Then I whine that no one wants to be my BBF, yet I don’t do anything to learn how to be a BBF.

    There is this other part of me too, that keeps me from getting close to people, I think it’s the fact that I don’t really know my inner workings either. I am still getting to know me. And I sure don’t know how to be a friend. I have to still learn these things. It’s a process I suppose.

    And yes, the self centered fear still lurks. And to help me with that I have to continue to reach out to others, to help, encourage and inspire. (I just have to make sure that I am not collecting brownie points to embellish my ego at the same time! Lol!)

    And then, in the end, I have to stop listening to the crazy in my head too, there is just too much junk up there anyway!

    Hang in Paul and be kind to yourself -it’s about the process not the perfection! Sending many hugs.

    1. It’s funny – you’re maybe the third alcoholic or so I know who is clear cut in saying they are an extrovert. Most of us mope about being hidden in the corners or having a hard time talking to others. I do know a few others in the rooms who explode with energy, especially when others are around! So it’s great to meet another one 🙂

      I understand what you say about your sponsor. Hell, I don’t even know my sponsor’s last name and yet he knows everything about me. Strange.

      “It’s like I want the intimacy but I don’t know how to be intimate. Then I whine that no one wants to be my BBF, yet I don’t do anything to learn how to be a BBF.” Yes! I always quell some of my self-pity by asking myself one simple question – what have I done to further the relationship? Hmmmm….well, it’s pretty much the same answer – none! So then why am I griping about it? Ego of course…lol.

      Thank you for the wise and insightful words, my friend. Have a great trip!

      Paul

  9. stephrogers says:

    Oh wow, I can so relate to this. I have had walls up my entire life. The girl who currently has my heart is the first person I have ever really let in behind the walls. People have always thought me cold and aloof, or worse stuck up. I was just low and self critical and unable to trust. With the help of my girlfriend I am learning, bit by bit, to let people in, and life is better. I finally have connection.

    1. Thanks Steph! It’s amazing how others perceive us without them knowing what lies beneath. So they saw you as cold and aloof, but wow – lots going on inside. I am so very glad that your girlfriend is allowing you to open yourself up to her and perhaps have that carry over into other parts of your life (I am sure your kids do that too!) Very happy that you have that special person 🙂

  10. JJ says:

    There is a natural balance in the Universe: introversion and extroversion. It’s similar to the thought that you would never recognize a good day if you never had a bad day. If there were not introverts in the world, everyone would be an OTT extrovert. Save me from that–no balance.

    There are several books on introversion, it’s not a crime. I get you about secrecy and alcoholism, BUT it is perfectly natural to be an introvert and not spend a lot of time making friends.

    Books:

    1) Part of One by Anneli Rufus
    2) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    As I get older I read books about healing or depression and how you “should” get out there and make contact. It’s just not me. I love to chat with people about books and art, but deeper relationships–I don’t connect, don’t want to. I like to be alone and putter away at what I like, my creative pursuits, reading, reading.

    I am comfortable with that. I enjoy my life and quiet, while giving an occasional wave to people. Don’t discount the natural balance of human personality. I accept that, accept that in myself. It’s natural for some humans, it’s biological. No big angsty deal, the imposed fear comes from society.

    I prefer the Eastern approach to the balance of life, and the acceptance that there are different ways and that connection to the quietude of the Self is not a crime. Not having friends, or not constantly pushing yourself to make friends is a natural flow to various personalities. It’s a freeing thought. You are not wrong or bad or some freaky loner/loser.

    Some of us are NATURALLY inclined this way. The Universe nods and smiles, everyone in harmony with their joyous selves.

    1. Thank you JJ for this insightful and well thought out response. I apologize for the delay in getting to this.

      I have been meaning to get Quiet for some time now. I think I watched a TED talk with the author and I loved it – really identified.

      “I enjoy my life and quiet, while giving an occasional wave to people. Don’t discount the natural balance of human personality. I accept that, accept that in myself.” – love this (i laughed at the waving part). Freeing myself from the idea that I “should” is something that appeals to me. It does.

      Thank you for all of this – I am ingesting it. You are very kind 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

      1. JJ says:

        I went through the wringer with this for some years. When I mentioned at work in 1987 “I think I’m a misanthrope,” a woman I worked with laughed out loud and said to me “No you’re not, you’re an introvert.”

        It was like a light going on, I thought “Could this be?” and “Is that what it is?” and it was the beginning of my acceptance and realizing that this wasn’t abnormal people-hating behaviour, it was a natural way, a natural personality type, a natural reserve and reluctance to join in that some of us exhibit.

        Wow, eh? 😉 Another person I was reading said that introverts are the engine that drives society. Far from being weirdos, we are thinkers and creators, liking to ruminate happily alone, ramble by ourselves.

        It IS very freeing.

  11. Hi Paul, lots of end of school year stuff, followed by out-of-town basketball tournament, and I’ve got lots to say on this, I will be back 🙂

    1. Oh gosh don’t worry. Live life, Josie. No need to comment, my friend 🙂 Thank you though!

      1. But what if I WANT to comment? Because I really do 🙂

        I was serious about having lots to say. This is, sadly, a topic I would like to explore, but don’t feel like I can in any authentic way on my own blog, as most of the people closest to me read faithfully, and I am not sure I want to get quite that honest with every single one of them. Not sure if that makes one lick of sense or not, but… there you have it.

        So first, in reading this post, the comments, and other blogs on this subject, I am always left with the feeling: extrovert = good; introvert = not so good. Maybe I am crazy and no one else gets this, but it strikes me as odd… why would this be?

        So we get into the car and I am full of thought about this, and I ask my husband: “Am I an introvert an extrovert?” He thinks for a moment and says: “invtrovert.” And if I could have fallen off my chair I would have (I was safely seatbelted in, so no worries there!). An introvert? ME?

        So I thought some more about this topic, and here’s what I’ve come up with: I am a recovered extrovert. Why would I need recovery from this condition? Because, for me, being an extrovert meant bending over backwards to make connections with people, to be witty and entertaining, to feel like everyone’s best friend. It usually meant putting my feelings, needs, etc. on the back burner, to make sure everyone around me was as comfortable as they could be.

        I seriously had to delete three paragraphs because I was veering so off-topic from your post and into my own stuff… like I said, I have lots to say!

        So back to the issue at hand: I think this is one of those areas in life where we have to get quiet with ourselves (and our Creator), and decide what scenario makes most sense to our authentic selves. I could be mistaken, but a real extrovert is one who derives “energy” from being with other people, whereas an introvert derives “energy” from being alone. If I am correct in that meaning, then I can say without hesitation that currently I lean towards the introverted side of the spectrum, although a few years ago I would have said the opposite, and who the heck knows where I will be a few years into the future?

        I really like the exchange you and Karen had in the comment section: if you feel like you are missing that intimate connection that close friendship brings, try very small incremental steps to initiate it. Nothing overwhelming, and if your reaction is a positive one, keep moving in that direction. I am blessed with a decent number of lifelong friends, and so I know the blessing it brings, but I understand the fear too; many times when I find someone being too “needy” I want nothing more than to run in the opposite direction. A shameful admission, but an honest one. So I get the fear, but the beauty of just starting out is that you set the pace with which you are comfortable.

        You’re probably thinking at this point, “Man, I wish her basketball tournament was still ongoing, reading this comment just ate up half a day!” Sorry for the wordiness, and (obviously) I appreciate your initiating this subject matter, and for letting me explore it! Love your blog, Paul!

        1. Never apologize for your words, Josie. They are always spot on and what I need when I need them. You are right about extroverts energizing with others while we are the opposite. I am not going to get into the whole introvert / extrovert thing, but you are right when you say that there is an inclination for us to think that extros are more the norm and intros seem to have something ‘wrong’ with them. I know as a parent I try to nourish both sides for the boys. Their inclination will reveal itself in time.

          I understand the connection between the extro and people pleasing. It’s not always mutually exclusive, but it’s there at times. And hence the flip side is that introverts are selfish in other ways. But there not need be any selfishness or self-centeredness attached to what we are pulled to. It just is.

          I am so very happy for you that you have those lifelong friends (I remember vividly how you wrote about them in your blog) and I admit I used to be jealous of that kind of thing, and sometimes that does crop up for me, but it is what it is. The question would be, of course, what did I do to foster any friendships? Hmmmm…nothing! so that’s what I get…ha ha.

          Anyway, thank you for this. I am very grateful to have you in my recovery life.

          Blessings,
          Paul

  12. jamilynaz says:

    Paul,

    This was a great post for me to read today. I have been thinking a lot lately about the relationships that I have with people in my life. While I am thankful that since getting sober my level of intimacy and trust with those closest to me has increased dramatically, I still struggle with it and wish that I was able to be more open to it. I have always been the person that people feel comfortable talking to, even in the depths of my drinking, but I rarely give up anything about myself. The walls I have built up are enormous. Slowly I see them falling, but I don’t know that they will ever be completely broken down. For now I am content to recognize when I have the opportunity to connect with someone. Nurturing that connection is the next step, I know. I’ll get there sometime. 🙂

    Thanks for this post. I’m always relieved to know that I am not alone.

    ~Jami

    1. Thank you Jami for this – I got a lot out, especially the part about having others open up to me, and I say nothing or very little in return. I have a friend like that to this day where when we meet, it’s him talking for about 95% and I just nod and listen and add very little, especially if it comes to me. It’s perverse, as I enjoy that but also wish he would ask how I was. So not the healthiest thing, is it?

      i too am allowing those walls to fall down…but it’s progress, not perfection. It will take me time. Trust is an issue, isn’t it?

      We’ll get there my friend…we’ll get there 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  13. Laurie Works says:

    I love this post, Paul. I so get it. I have spent a lot of time behind that uncracked shell I keep myself in – a shell composed of brick. Recently though something in me has broken down some of that shell. It’s been a weird and beautiful experience. The thing that’s brought it down for me is that I deeply trust myself. I am learning to wholeheartedly embrace the fact that I am empowered. I have repeated a phrase often to myself lately – “It is my sacred duty to take care of myself.” I used to cower in the face of that idea because I felt absolutely incapable of it.
    But my perspective got switched and now I see – “OH. It is my sacred duty to care for myself, therefore, I must take the responsibility and do what is needed!” and somehow, I feel empowered in that. Completely. It’s caused me to take more action in my life and to interact freely in the world, because I absolutely trust that even if I get into an awkward, scary conversation, I will remember it’s my sacred duty to care for myself, and I’ll step forward and do that. I can be around people I would normally be afraid to interact with. Before, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to rescue myself if something awkward happened between me and them. Now, I know I can, so it’s not a big deal.
    In any case, just thought I would share. I’m glad you wrote this. I always love reading what you have to share and seeing your face around the blogosphere. Peace to you.

    1. Thanks Laurie for this – lots going on for you I know and I am so very honoured and flattered to have you swing by here and share so deeply.

      Perspective is a lot and I sometime lose mine, or allow it to go to unhealthy places. I am not in that place of sacred duty yet, but I am not not liking me…so that’s a good shift, yes? ha ha. I’ll get there. Just feels like sludge at the moment.

      Good luck again with all your projects. Sounds like you’re going to be even busier than you are now.

      Blessings
      Paul

  14. mike says:

    Paul
    I relate. Been there. Done that. About 9 years worth.

    They say misery is optional. But you gotta do, what you gotta do. Pain will become a major motivator.

    The joke is on you though bro. You spend all this time dedicated to training for a marathon. Its slow at first, you stumble and fall, sore a shit. Yet you get up the next day and try again, because you are working torwards a ‘known’ goal. The training gets easier and you push for new gains

    Whats your goal in sobriety. It aint stopping drinking. You already did that. Your goal is to lessen or stop feeling like shit. Its your thinkin that needs changing. All you gotta do is suit up, show up, and share honestly from your gut. It aint like writing for an audience, capeche. And don’t let the weight of those 3 coins in your pocket hold you down. Or you will sink to the bottom. Meetings are like training for a lifetime marathon. So yo, you haven’t ever done this before, so listen to the coach that has.

    When you get sick and tired of being Paul. Make a decision. Back to basics. 90&90 and share honestly, And don’t bullshit, you got the time.

    Hang in there.

    1. Thanks Mikey. I get angry sometimes when I read your responses, and it’s not at you (although that is what my feelings are telling me at first), but I know it’s because you’re right and I am just bullshitting some. Not all, but some. Delusions are a powerful thing, Mike, and I am not naive enough to think that just because I put the bottle down that I won’t get caught up in my own warped thinking. That’s the thinking problem. And yeah, 3 coins ain’t nothing, to be honest. I look around the rooms and realize I know jack shit. So pain will be my motivator. Always was. I choose misery sometimes and I don’t enjoy it, oddly enough. Time to watch my feet.

      Thanks

      1. mike says:

        Paul
        You are helping me more than you will ever know.

        You ever heard that phrase. ‘we got a built in forgetter’?

        When you write, ‘something is wrong and you cant quite put your finger on it’, I get it. When you write that you don’t feel worthy to collect your 3 year coin, I get it. When you write that you feel like you’ve done a ton o work and still feel like shit, I get it. When you are beating the shit out of yourself because you don’t think you are at the ‘sober’ level that you think you should be at, I get it. When you are around people, in and out of the rooms, and you aren’t making the connection you would like to make, I get it. When you write of the solution and how the solution doesn’t always work like we’d like it to. I get it. When you leave a meeting feeling worse than you did when you went in, I get it.

        If I’m not in the game to hear guys like you, I’m going to forget all this stuff. Also the comments that I write are the stuff I gotta do too. That’s why I write them. Its a reminder to me as well. If I’m lying, I’m dying.

        You know how when we start this journey on the steps, some things are lifted pretty quick, other things get less, and still other stuff barely moves at all? In the beginning we beat our heads against the wall trying to change these defects and shortcomings. Some of us, (me) do it for years and years and then some. For some strange reason, we think they should be relieved, like the compulsion to drink was. When I was finally able to surrender and accept my character defects and short comings and stop fighting against them is when I turned the corner. When I’m fighting against these things, all I am really doing is fighting against myself. Its a no win game. Its another form of doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. I have about as much chance of changing my fear and self centeredness and other defects, as I do of changing my eye color.
        My only chance of doing anything about these shortcomings, that permeate and taint every aspect of my being, is to constantly be aware or inventory, talk to other people about them- honestly- and pray for em to be removed. You know what the coolest thing is? A lot of times now that I have this knowledge, I’m able to catch this stuff and walk around it. Sometimes when I’m faced with this stuff, the best I can do is pray for the courage and try to get through it. I’m not fighting it anymore, I’m working with these defects and I’m making them work for me.

        Pauly, you are on the cusp…..about to turn the corner…….let it go, man.

        ps What I meant about the coins is, once we start accumulating them, people start to think we are some kind of guru or something. In my case, pride and ego started to trump honesty and I fucked myself up with it. Dude, I’m workin on the same shit you are. Sometimes I;m going through the same shit a newcomer talks about, and that self centered fear is jumping all over me, because I want to share the same kind thing, but I’m afraid I’m going to be judged for it. I know- you know- what I;m talkin about. These are the times I have to double down, pray for courage and say fuck it and walk through it. Cause if I don’t face it, the next time it comes up, and it will, it will be easier to cut and run from it. Its uncanny, sometimes I don’t get any relief from the share, but people come up to me after the meeting and thank me for saying it. I helped somebody. That makes it all worthwhile.

        1. “When I was finally able to surrender and accept my character defects and short comings and stop fighting against them is when I turned the corner. When I’m fighting against these things, all I am really doing is fighting against myself. Its a no win game. Its another form of doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. I have about as much chance of changing my fear and self centeredness and other defects, as I do of changing my eye color.” This Mike…this really opened my eyes, kind sir. I have indeed heard of the built in forgetter, and I do forget.

          And what you say about how you are when you read some of my stuff, is how I feel when I talk to a newcomer at a meeting. Or read something on someone else’s blog. It reminds me why I do this whole thing. I hear about the shit that I have gone through, or have forgotten about. Really? I’ve forgotten about all that crappy stuff? But yeah, I do.

          As for the guru thing…I am getting that now, Mike. Sometime I wonder if I am just full of shit or what? Yeah, I can make a nice share but is it real? And like you said, I have to let this go. Sometimes I think I am going to sound like a newcomer again, so I pretend that I have got it, and I don’t have it. That’s when I go to my sponsor or some of the old timers. And they say what you say – let my guard down. Stop fighting. And sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t Mikey. Just writing this is making me tear up because it hurts to be so raw. So there it is – I get scared as hell and want to show a different face.

          But I know I’m not alone. I just act like it sometimes.

          Thank you…I can’t tell you how much this means to me.

          Paul

  15. Don’t sell yourself short with this way of thinking, my friend. The journey is different for each and every single one of us. Deep down, I think there is something inside of you slowly shifting around and molding itself into an entity which will, eventually, learn to let others get close to you. Does this mean you will be skipping around and tap-dancing with every single soul you meet off the street? Heck no! But I think once you grow more comfortable in the skin which the person inside is transforming beneath, it will get easier to let others in.

    Remember, we are here for a reason. Our whole life has happened and unfolded under God’s terms and he has a purpose for every single experience, good or bad, we have lived through. We are meant to serve as examples for others who need guidance and spirituality so they, too, can find themselves on the right path. But in doing so, we need to be open and willing to let people know us better. Sometimes, we just need to let our guard down; especially when we come across the right people. You know… those people who actually accept us for all that are and don’t judge us for the villains we almost could have become.

    It’s strange, Paul. Before I got sober, I relied on close ties and connections with people. I often poured my heart and soul into trying to do everything to please them and would reveal everything sacred about me to them. Now, however, I’ve learned to choose wisely and still, I don’t get too close unless I really know there will be a meaningful friendship established. The sober path is quite the adventure and you never know what to expect. There are continuous revelations constantly beaming down from Him only to surprise us which every step we take as we follow in His footsteps.

    1. “But I think once you grow more comfortable in the skin which the person inside is transforming beneath, it will get easier to let others in. ” <—This. This is pretty much everything in a nutshell, my friend. I'm not there yet. As much as I thought I was getting there, I am not there. Or not as far as I thought I was. So that's the ugly truth. I am still not truly comfortable in my skin, and I react by pushing the tack further into the skin rather than ask for help or let things heal further. Not a good choice, but as Mike said in an earlier comment, we choose misery and pain is a good motivator. Perhaps the pain will get driven in enough for me to say enough is enough. Until then, I am just puttering and muttering and bitching. Not pretty. But it';s where it is right now.

      Thank you.

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