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.
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.
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.
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.