Bedtime Tale – The Lone Wolf


lone-wolf-picturesWhen my oldest son was a baby, we used to read him bedtime tales.  Simple, repetitive, quick books to read.  While we tired of them quickly, he was endlessly fascinated by the zesty words, the radiant pictures, the playful inflection in our voices as we tried to razzle dazzle him with these little stories.  He would ask for the same ones, again and again.  And we gladly obliged.

As he got older, the stories would change.  They got more involved, and the pictures were in sharper detail, and the tales would grow and they would get more involved.  A for Ant soon turned into Curious George chasing bunnies which turned into dinosaurs attacking other dinosaurs.  Rawr.

I mention this because for me, I know that there are stories that I have told myself over and over again.  Except that they weren’t always at bedtime, but certainly bedtime was when they flourished most because it was easier to let the tape play out in full Technicolour Majesty, complete with Gore-Tastic Smell-O-Vision.  Nothing like lying in the dark letting the bogey-man from within rip me apart.  Again and again, like Prometheus getting his liver plucked out and eaten while alive, day after day.

Quit it.
Quit it.

We all have these stories, of course – the lies we tell ourselves, the fantastic creations that we buy into, the garbage that we polish over and over again that still remains rubbish.  “I’m not good enough”, “I’m never going to amount to anything”, “They’re all after me”, etc.  The self-sabotaging beat down that we bring down on ourselves.  The old idea of half of our brain manufacturing bullshit and the other half buying it.  I was a Grand Wizard at that stuff.  And hey, why not really punctuate all that by getting hammered and showing the world what a piece of shit we are?

Self-fulfilling prophecy, n’est-ce-pas?

One of the stories I have always told myself, and still go on to this day (with intermittent frequency, mind you) is that I don’t need anyone else.  That I am fine on my own.  I am a steely and wily wolf, a Charles Bronson-esque archetype, a Duke of Badass-ery.  This worked perfectly in my favour as an active alcoholic, prolific introvert and avoider of social situations.  I got to play that role which ill-suited me and I suffered for it.  I couldn’t pull off the trick, and found myself miserable and unable to survive much on my own, although I found being alone was my default.

There is no darker spot for me to be in when I both crave community and yet fear it like I would a crate of snakes.  That was the great friction in my life – I so wanted to be with others, and yet they scared the living daylights out of me.  The tall tale I told myself was that I didn’t need them after all.  Look at how great my life was without those people getting things messy with their needs, their weaknesses, their wanting, their drama.

My reaction when I get an evite.
My reaction when I get an e-vite.

But wait.  Was I not just projecting myself onto others – the neediness, the weaknesses, the wanting, the drama?  That was me.  And still can be. My stuff.  Perhaps it was me that I feared – that part of me who was a scared little boy wanting safety.  The part that never grew up.  The part that alcohol anaesthetized.

And this has played out all my life.  Even now.

For example, consider my race a couple of weeks ago.  I had started to get to “know” a few folks online via Twitter – folks who had raced before and were going to be at the race.  We would share tips, or talk shop or whatnot.  I knew what they looked like by their running pictures, and they each had their personalities slowly show.  I was excited to be a small part of the community and looked forward to perhaps even meeting them.

Then the story started to play out – “Why would people want to meet YOU?”, “What do you have to offer?”, “You barely know them”, “You suck as a runner – they’ll laugh at you,” etc.  Typical of how my ego (in reverse) likes to put me in a chokehold and squeeze the air out.

So when it came time to go to the expo the day before to pick up my bib, I avoided.  I took snapshots of some of the folks I had intended to meet (they were on stage doing talks) but didn’t approach them.  I shrank back.  I played small.  I felt like an imposter being there.  I recognized some others from their own pictures but blended into the shadows. Somehow I mustered some courage to meet with and speak to a fantastic woman and runner while there.  She shared some wisdom with me and it was great to talk to someone face-to-face.  I felt like I had warm blood running through me again.

Later on, I mentioned online about my reticence in meeting people, mentioning names, and I was met with some distance and even anger – “Why didn’t you come up to us?”.  “What’s wrong with you?”. “Don’t be a wiener” one guy wrote (I love that now, looking back at it).

Selfie.
Selfie.

This is exactly how I used to approach all the other parts of my life – stay at distance, avoid the sharks and keep low on the radar.  But boy did I ever want to jump in and play ball with the other kids.  Still do.  And so my challenge is to be aware of my lone wolf tendencies and pray for the courage to change the things I can and push through the fears. What may be ferocious in effort for me is painfully easy for others.  I get that.  But I am not them.  I am me learning to grow.

I have cocooned myself for the last two months.  Very little human contact.  Isolating.  Playing possum.  Other than some online presence, I have delved inward and played a character that is very tiring to play.  Lone wolf.

But I can see myself getting out of this one now.  Slowly. I have recognized my need to breakout lately, in that when I would talk to the neighbourhood parents, I would yap a mile a minute.  Over sharing.  Getting stuff out that perhaps is inappropriate.  I laugh as I recall keeping one mother hostage in the produce aisle as I regaled her with countless tales of this and that.  Minutiae of my life that was uninvited.  Poor woman wanted to buy pears and pomegranates and leave.

So here’s the takeaway – I need folks.  I need them.  I need you.  I need family.  I need neighbours.  I need recovery people.  I need runners.  I need friends.  I don’t want to need them – let’s be clear on this.  But I need them.  And that’s the new tale that I have been allowing Creator to tell me.  I am no longer in charge of my stories – I leave that up to Him.  And He speaks to me through others.  And they tell me that I am needed too.  Who would have thought that – people need me too?  That goes against the lies of my 44 years on this planet.  That flies in the face of my ego which would rather be simmering in self-pity.

They have a point. I don't condone it...but they have a point.
They have a point. I don’t condone it…but they have a point.

And here’s the deal – I have taken on a coach for running.  That involves me joining his running group, which is nearing 40 people.  That means I have to talk to these strangers.  Once a week, if not more. And to be vulnerable in my slow speed and newcomer status. I also reconnected with an old timer friend of mine from the program, who yesterday actually leaned on me and shared things that are going on with him and who hasn’t shared with anyone else.  I felt useful.  We are going to meet more regularly.  I am reconnecting with my sponsor.  Maybe hit some meetings.  I am making plans for my birthday to actually dine with others.  I have made a vow to meet other runners at the next marathons and races I have already registered for.

All of this scares the living shit out of me.

Part of me would rather be Prometheus there.  Pluck pluck ouch ouch. But this is the only way I can change.  And it’s going to be slow, and I will resist.  I guarantee it.  But I will persist.  I have no choice.  The only way I stretch and grow is with others.  I will be honest and wish I didn’t need others.  I wish I could be that seemingly cool badass canine. But I do need others.  I need you. I am a human social animal like y’all.

I love being part of these communities – recovery first and now my running one.  Well, I love the idea of being part of them, and yet I am already ensconced in them, even if I don’t see it or feel it.  So they are stuck with me.  In a good way.

What I am learning is that it’s possible to change the stories we tell ourselves.  It’s possible and very likely to break out of our self-imposed prisons and facades.  It’s possible to see that you are meant to be something greater than you imagine. It’s possible to live in a new way, an authentic way and be part of something greater than self.

And hey – wolves travel in packs.  They howl to assemble their group, to find a mate, to communicate their position, to show love.

They aren’t so lone after all.

Paul

WolfPack_DigitalVision_479x238

65 Comments Add yours

  1. mishedup says:

    I love this paul, and so identify.
    the stories, the lone wolf (or the isolating ostrich?), the needing people so badly and fear of letting anyone in.
    classic alcoholism, classic human-beingness? doesn’t matter.
    the recognition and the changing is all that matters, right?
    I’m excited for your running club..that sounds awesome, and with 40 people, you never know who might need some of your usefulness.

    changing the old stories is what i’m about right now too….we can do it, we have a whole bunch of those pesky people behind us, yes?

    1. Thanks M. I think it may be classic human being-ness, just magnified for us alkies. But that is my struggle that I speak to of with my sponsor(s) – letting people in. I was always used to the classic flitting about like a butterfly – never really staying long enough in one place to make a go out of any relationship. Now it’s tougher to stay in it 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words – yes – the club should be interesting 😉

      Paul

  2. nonotesnotes says:

    Thanks for sharing this… When sober, I’ve realised that actually, everybody is lonely, everybody is scared, everybody has doubts and regrets… Everybody hurts sometimes… Some people are just better practiced. When drinking, especially by yourself, it’s easy to think your the only person who feels like that. I bet there’s a good chance the lady at the supermarket (although she may have been in a rush) was happy you spoke with her, although next time maybe try get her doing the taking by asking questions… The cure for those feelings and to not overshare (one major issue of mine too) is to ask and listen to other people. Cos we’re all the same in terms of our basic desires: to feel accepted, acknowledged, and wanted.

    Great news about your running group, sounds like a lot of fun! Good luck, and hope you make the most of it and enjoy the other people!

    1. nonotesnotes says:

      My other issue is posting too long messages on other people’s posts 😉

      1. No worries – love it. Have you seen how long my comments get sometimes? I usually go longer than the actual posts!!! lol

        Any time 🙂

    2. “Some people are just better practiced” = absolutely true!

      I did try to engage her as well – I constantly catch myself prattling on about myself and then shift it and ask them questions. I was usually the opposite – didn’t want anyone to know anything about me, so asked them endless questions about them (we’re our favourite topic, don’t you know!). So I will find that balance 🙂

      Listening – I am trying to be more “active” in my listening 🙂

      Thanks for the great comments and insight…much appreciated!

  3. Bea says:

    A timely post for me, Paul. Isolating lone wolf? Me too. Ack. And, in case you were in any doubt, you do help people here, enormously, profoundly. So thank you. You’re a brave, loving soul and I appreciate you. I’m glad you’re getting out there more so that others will get to share you and you get to enjoy the comfort of the pack too. Bea x

    1. Hi Bea – thank you for the kind words. And you are helping me along my recovery too, even if you don’t know it 🙂 We don’t do this alone, as much as we would like to. I tried stopping countless times on my own, and it failed. It wasn’t until other folks took me in and cared for me until I could care for myself and show me what worked for them, I was lost. Thank you for being here and a part of this community 🙂

      Paul

  4. iceman18 says:

    Good stuff!

    Recovery is not done alone, we need others. But boy did I try! One of my first meetings I attended, an old timer leaned over to me and said…”if you want to get this, you will need to reach out to others”. Almost before he finished his sentence that voice in my head said “that will never fucking happen”. Three years of sobriety later and a lot of self-imposed suffering, I had had enough. But, not to fully concede, I tried the half measures program. Over the next three years, it availed me nothing! After a lot more suffering, I was done. I became willing to do whatever it took. My life changed from that point forward.

    1. Thank you iceman! You are absolutely correct – we don’t do this alone. I was lucky to find the rooms and to have others love me before I could love myself and show me precisely how they recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of body and mind. I have been somewhat aloof in the fellowship for a while now, and reaching out again to face-to-face folks has already been a bit of a spark plug for me. I want to do more now and hope to get myself right back in the middle of the pack. While it may be uncomfortable at times, I know deep down that is where I need to be.

      Thank you for sharing a bit of your story – I tried to stop many times on my own, and it was hell. Fully conceding – that was when things turned around for me too 🙂

      So glad to have your here 🙂

      Blessings
      Paul

  5. Hi Paul,
    I get your story, or so I think, hope :-). One remark on the practical level: I do think that you would make it easier on yourself if you go the ‘speak with’ road in stead of the ‘talk to’ one. ‘Speak with’ puts less pressure on you to ‘make it happen’ and ‘to succeed’.
    And smart to start with women! We tend to not eat men for breakfast 😉 and on average seem to want to speak 5000 words a day and men only 2000. So, easy win. 😉

    PS: there’s a pdf on the net and it is called ‘The fine art of small talk pdf’. It is from a book and it is MARVELOUS, it helped me out big time in my professional carreer (I did get the book). It is not so much about ‘small talk’ but about starting and maintaining meaningfull conversations in situations that one (mostly everybody…) might not be comfortable in. Good luck! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comments and advice. Small talk – well, I don’t even know where to start there. I have a hard time with it when I really would either want silence or to get into something deeper…lol. I guess I need to find that middle ground. I can act the role, I suppose, but would rather come from authenticity than falseness. I am a work in progress there 🙂

      thanks for this – hope you are well!

      Paul

      1. Hi Paul,

        No no no no no, don’t mix up small talk with falseness. Sorry I forgot but yes, I had the same apprehension as you do now. But it has nothing to do with hiding or lack of anything deep. Really, give it a try, she is very good and ‘small’ talk is a good sober tool. Being at ease in an interesting conversation is 10 times better than not knowing what to do and therefor grabbing a drink as so many of us did.

        Examples of the book I use:
        – Look for the people that are alone too, they are easier to start a conversation with.
        – At conferences there is nothing wrong with asking ‘hello, can I join you?’
        – Social gatherings; ‘How do you know the host?’
        – Business gatherings ‘How did you become a builder.’

        All very, very logical once you have read it but for me it was an eye opener. The whole book is filled with examples, I am very sure that it is worth looking into. 😉

        Enjoy 🙂

        Regards, Feeling

  6. Paul says:

    That is a vey honest and real post Paul.Thank you for sharing. I too am a bit of a lone wolf but I get over it naturally once I get involved. It’s odd that when i first join a group – be it a new employer or a wedding party or wahatever, i feel exactly as you describe : What do I have to offer? I realized that I was that way because I saw the group as those with a shared interest and history. As soon as i saw it as a gathering of individuals, I could befriend other indivduals and I was fine. In fact, it is common that when another new person joins, that they see me as a part of the group without realizing that i once felt as they did – an addition with no history.

    Anyway, great post Paul. Thank You.

    1. Ah – a sort of divide and conquer?? Lol. I see what you mean, Paul. I immediately jump into this whole scenario in my mind where they are all the closest buddies in the world and then there is me. Even if it *were* true, doesn’t mean that I can’t be a part of. We all start somewhere. I am seeing this with the running mates that I know online and will also soon know face-to-face – many know each other many years, have raced together and have broken bread together. i can’t compare where I am to their own history. I don’t win…but when is it about winning? I guess that’s the big question – or is it about just simply relating?

      Thanks Paul for getting my noggin’ thinking.

      Fantastic comments.

      Blessings
      Paul

  7. jeffstroud says:

    Paul,

    I wasn’t sure I had anything else to share, and maybe I don’t? As from the above comments you are not alone. Many have already expressed that, it is our dis ease talking, if it can get you alone long enough it might just get you to use again! Or it might get you to find a quiet place to practice meditation, or yoga, or even running.

    Were you alone the first time you went to a meeting? I was! Did people care of you had anything to share with them. They welcomed you, they told you you were the most important person in the room at that moment. They even told you to keep coming back, might have offered to take you to coffee, etc… you understand what I am getting at.

    Once again is about finding balance. It is about creating healthy spaces for everything to evolved.
    Awareness is the key, action is the path forward!

    Blessed Be,

    Jeff

    1. Dang you, Jeff! There you are again speaking common sense and good, solid program. Ha ha. But you are right, again – I certainly didn’t care at the time when I went to my first meeting – I just wanted relief. I wasn’t concerned with the ego-centric sides of me. I wanted help. To connect. To get well.

      But what you said – where does this lead me – can it be going further from the drink or closer to it? Does this want to take me deeper into a new space – writing inventory, writing step work, practising meditation…or does it pull me into darker places? I certainly don’t want darkness. I have been feeling rather light lately – been talking to more guys from the program and have felt some sort of balance lately. More meditation (I will be doing that after I respond to some comments here) and just being of service. Small things, but important to me. I am not burdened by much in the meantime. And reading your words also help me a lot, Jeff.

      So thank you for the service you do – and you certainly do that when you reach out and comment.

      Love and light
      Paul

  8. This post fills me with such hope. I think, in my heart, even after all I have changed within myself, that I don’t think it’s possible to change the stories we tell ourselves. I have been struggling, really struggling, to reframe my perspective on a certain issue (that I have discussed, ad nauseum, on my blog), even prayed about it in a special way this morning. And I’m thinking, even as I type this, that this post may just be His answer to me.

    Of course it’s possible. So the new story I have to tell myself is: it’s possible to change your story, so go ahead and change it. Right now.

    I promise to work on changing my story, just as you are working on yours, and we’ll both see how it goes.

    And when’s the birthday dinner? Do we even share similar birthdays? Mine is next week!

    1. Happy almost birthday, Josie!!! xo

      1. Yes! Almost happy b-day (I am curious to find out what day – if it’s the same as mine, then we are officially twins separated at birth…sort of…lol)

    2. Hi Josie!

      I am glad that this resonated with you. As I write these posts, I have to reflect upon them down the line as well, as I don’t always follow through as much as I want to. Progress, not perfection, yes? But being aware is a good start I suppose. It’s not an overnight matter for us, or at least for me. My shifts and changes are slow, but that’s fine – as long as I am moving forward then I am okay. Of course we want it all NOW, right? Gotta chill on that one, for sure!

      As for the birthdays – I am on the 9th of this month. You??

      1. Maybe astrology explains all of our similarities… I am the 12th 🙂

        1. There ya go – another Scorpio!

  9. Like you always do, in the process of processing yourself and your thoughts…you reveal huge remnants of me.
    Thank you for taking us through this journey of wanting/not wanting; needing/not needing to be with people. I love that you do it from such a place of gratitude and reflection.
    I had an instance of this yesterday! I’m a community volunteer for our county Master Gardener’s. In order to stay certified, one has to participate in advanced training–6 hours/year…with 80 others. Yesterday’s topic was landscaping for birds (don’t laugh!) I looked forward to it for weeks and then an hour before I was supposed to go, started finding inner excuses not to. Can’t I just go and then be myself in the corner and learn about birds?
    Nope! I knew I’d need to interact, participate in small talk and soak up all the energy from the room. Not that it matters, but did I mention that I’m about 20 years younger than the average age of our master gardener club? Anyhoo, it was a great class and I connected with my gardener besties as we bonded over hip and knee surgeries.
    And here we go…all about me. Ugh. Sorry.
    I’m thankful that you are where you are at with your journey and self-assessment, because I’m just not there yet. Correction–just not now. Heading into winter is my trigger. More than a lone wolf, I’m feeling like a bear. Somebody who just wants to go hibernate and wake up only long enough to eat. Thank you for drawing me out of my cave for some food for the soul. xo

    1. Are you kidding me? “All about me” – I love that you shared that story about the course and feeling a bit outside of it, etc. That shows me just how much we are all similar – basic wants and needs to be accepted and seen and all that other stuff. This is human stuff. Dirt from the human garden. Holding it up for others to see.

      A bear? Ha! I know many people are affected by the weather. I don’t mind the winters (I am Canadian), and after last year, this one should be a cinch. Don’t hibernate too much! Mama bear will be grouchy…lol (although I can’t see you being grouchy)

      Thank you for the warm comments – I don’t know where you find this well of generosity and joy, but keep at it. I am always in awe when I read your comments here and on other blogs. You are a real empath 😉

      Paul

      1. Lol! Not grumpy? Clearly, you haven’t seen me at the end of a work day.
        I need to come to Canada…some of the coolest people I know are from there 😉

  10. lucy2610 says:

    Great post Paul and resonated with me too. Been isolating lately too and need to change my story too xx

    1. Hi Lucy – well, let’s both get out there and share of our selves. Those skype chats you do are a way of reaching out!! But yeah, isolating is not a good place for us 😉

      Glad you reached out here, my friend!

      Paul

  11. NotAPunkRocker says:

    My first instinct now that I am “home alone” is to withdraw further. Work, home, work, home, repeat again. Home only on weekends. I know I need to do something or my recovery will stagnate, or possibly send me down a different road (drinking again or starvation).

    I find it promising that I at least recognize it now; I think a year or so ago I wouldn’t have. That’s got to count for something, right?

    1. You are absolutely right – it *does* count for something. Sounds like you are awake to what is going on for you…and that’s something that not many of us can say we are…so that’s fantastic. I too get in the work, home, sleep cycle, and not reach out as much as I can / should. I find excuses, and say I am too “busy”. But then I have no problems finding time for other things, do I? So my priorities have shifted…and that’s not good for me. I need to keep recovery first and foremost or I can lose it all. A wee dramatic, but you know just how quickly we can slide, eh? 🙂

      Glad you’re here (I have been lurking your blog, but not commenting as much – my apologies!!)

      Paul

  12. Singanewsong says:

    Dear Message in a Bottle Paul, Yes I totally relate to this…. in fact, one of the theme songs of my life has been that haunting tune by Paul Simon here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My9I8q-iJCI
    “I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries”. My challenge is to keep reaching out, because I need people and relationships. Thanks for your deeply thought writings

    1. Thank you for sharing that video (wow, they were *kids* there, eh?) I can relate of course – I think we all can, smothered in addiction or not – it’s a human thing that we all have felt no doubt. The old joke about no man is an island except for Freddy Madagascar comes to mind…lol. But certainly I don’t do well on an island. I can visit, but staying there erodes me in some way, you know?

      Thank you for being here and sharing. It means a lot 🙂

      Blessings
      Paul

  13. k2running says:

    Wow! This is so me. The craving to be with others, but retreating & isolating instead. “just leave me alone!!” ugh, its too much work to get up, show up, participate…etc…. BUT I know that I NEED to do all of the above. For my serenity and my sanity! Good for you joining the running group. I was once a marathon runner-hoping to get back into it-runners are a unique breed, kinda like those of us in recovery…. good people😊
    Thanks for your meaningful words!
    Katie

    1. You were a marathoner? Wow! You ran marathons, so you’re still one, yes? (in my books you are). I think you are right about runners being a unique breed of their own…no wonder I feel some affinity towards them!! lol.

      I am hoping that after next Wednesday (the first time I meet/ run with the group) I will have an update! It should be interesting (the running part doesn’t scare me – it’s the talking!!)

      Glad you’re here Katie 🙂

      Paul

      1. k2running says:

        Paul, good luck with your running group. I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Yes I was a marathon runner, Columbus, Ohio twice, Cleveland, once. Multiple 1/2’s…. I’m hoping to get back into it. I have no desire to run a full, too much training. The actual race is easier😉
        But I would like to do 10ks and halfs. And you are correct, once a runner always a runner!
        Have fun!

  14. clearlee says:

    We all need each other! I don’t know where we get this idea that we need to be lone wolves. I like to blame Western Culture and Capitalism for it. But I like to blame Western Culture and Capitalism for everything and that’s another story!
    The truth is that we are so completely interdependent that true independence is a myth. We depend on others for not only our emotional needs but our physical survival. No one is completely self-sufficient (Except maybe one guy living off the land in the woods). Our identities are actually products of our relationships with others and our cultural environment. There is no SELF without our experiences with others. It is created through and by relationships.
    Keep reaching out- not only do you need others but others need YOU.
    🙂

    1. Wise words, Lee. I think culture of the mainstream also propagates this – look at John Wayne and all those other sort of types who are solo “warriors” and we would look up to those kinds of dudes. Especially for us men – we are almost expected to be lone wolves. Strong and silent types, etc. I think that may be one of our gender’s issues – that image of that rugged, self-sufficient man who can take it all on. Obviously women take that on too.

      It’s still a bit of a default for me to retract, but I just see more and more how interdependent I am in the end. It goes against my ‘story’ but that’s fine…time for a rewrite right now 🙂

      Great comments !!

      Paul

  15. JJ says:

    Oh boy, this seems apt. We are moving next year and I was looking up local groups in one town and delighting that there were these groups at all and then the shrinking back started in my mind. I thought of all the people and having to talk to them, even the ones I didn’t like, and sharing my work, opening up.

    I often use the line from the first Rocky movie when he was in the ring and getting clobbered: “Ain’t so bad.”

    Ain’t so bad Rock, ain’t so bad.

    1. ain’t so bad…love it…lol.

      Thanks JJ for this – I got a good laugh out of it, and also understand where you are coming from. Double win 🙂

      Paul

  16. Daisy says:

    Hey there Paul, Hello first time comment from me. I feel like a similar person except no strength and braun more of a lone-sheep, maybe not a sheep, maybe a lone koala quite cute but with the nails and the sharp beak. (I’m married to my own lone wolf, he’s solitary, it suits us both.)

    I actually took a sharp intake of breath when you said you’d joined a running group/coach. Like with real people, shudder. But, I get up today and go to a place where fellow humans are to do some volunteering, hard and scary but my greatest interactions at the moment are with the lady at the checkout of my local supermarket and I don’t shop that often. I’m volunteering in an education environment you know where you have to talk and demonstrate and teach. What was I thinking.

    Lovely blog thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Daisy – thanks for the comments and for being here! I laughed at the koala remark..ha ha. I think you don’t give yourself enough credit – getting out of your comfort zone and doing things like volunteering is wonderful. I am not there yet, although I try to do service in a different way. So it’s funny you think that me joining a running club is shudder-inducing, but are making great strides in other areas!! Kudos to the fuzzy koala 🙂

      Cheers – look forward in reading your blog 🙂

      Paul

  17. stacilys says:

    Hey, hey, hey you canuck blogger friend of mine. Hahahahaha. I’m so sorry but I just had to let out that laugh first. I love that Selfie photo. I literally laughed out loud. And how about that photo of the naked man. Whoa. I sure wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.
    Ok, serious now. Of course people need you Paul. And of course you need people. We were made for community, my friend. We’re wired that way. I loooooovvvvvveeeee my alone time, but heck, I’ll go all squirly if I only had me to be with. EEK. Paul, YOU ARE AWESOME times two. No, forget times two. Make it two hundred. Seriously. If I had been in Toronto for more than just that day (and it wasn’t an overnight flight), you wouldn’t have to convince me at all, I’d be on my way to meet you, that’s for sure. No doubt about it. I’d love to meet ya. Hey, why don’t you move down here with the family so we can be real-life buds? I can give you all Portuguese lessons. What do you say? Hehehe. Can you tell I’m in a bit of a playful mood tonight?
    Ok, so sorry that my comment is sounding a little flighty. I’m really not a huge airhead. I just wanted to let you know that you are needed, yes, and that you need others, yes, and that you are sooooo loved and respected and appreciated, my friend.
    Oh, and once again, love love love your vulnerability.
    Many blessings and hugs.
    🙂

    1. You’re one of a kind, Staci – and I don’t say that in a flippant way at all. You make me laugh and I can “hear” you saying this as I read it…ha ha. thanks for the kind words – I am glad that we crossed paths and we certainly do all need one another.

      Hope you are doing well 🙂

      Hugs and blessings back
      Paul

      1. stacilys says:

        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 “You’re one of a kind, Staci”
        –My step-dad says the same thing. Although, I don’t think he appreciates it as much as you 🙂
        Even my mom once said to me, “Maybe you’re bi-polar”. Ouch.
        I’m not, btw.
        I’m glad we crossed paths too.
        I’m doing well. Hope you are too.
        Hugs and blessings (as always)
        Staci 🙂

  18. byebyebeer says:

    Yeah, I can so identify with this. I met Josie at a 5K roughly a year ago and it was such a scary experience for this shy person…and this is friendly, down-to-earth Josie we’re talking about. It was just a real reach for me and so rewarding, but I can see that if it was a group of people I knew from twitter or wherever, I totally would have taken the safer, quieter route that you described. I tell you, though, I’m getting more okay with that. Sometimes it feels right for me to remain reserved and shy. It’s such a balancing act to know when to respect who I am and when to push out of the comfort zone for the real rewards. I’m excited to hear you’re joining a running group and look forward to hearing about your experiences. There’s so much to gain as a runner and just someone who’s looking to branch out and grow. Thanks for writing about this…it really did hit home.

    1. Thanks Kristen for the comments – I know, how would we be anxious to meet someone like awesome Josie? And yet, I probably would be as well. I guess that human-ness. And I guess for the introverts like us, a little bit more stressful. But I know, I know, I know that getting out of my comfort zone is where I grow. Sometimes I just don’t want to leave that zone. ugh. But I’ll get back in the game – the running club will help, and I have been reconnecting with some real life recovery folks and I am planning on hitting a meeting or two or more this week. time to get back on the bike.

      Thanks for this, and glad it resonated 🙂

      paul

  19. sherryd32148 says:

    You are so brave!!!! I remember when I met Amy from Soberbia…I was so nervous! Everytime we had to cancel (our schedules were insane at the time) I would breathe a sigh of relief because I knew, just knew I would be a disappointment to her.

    But then we met – and sat at a Starbucks for FOUR HOURS talking. And I realized that yes, I need people too and she was (and is) amazing and I miss her and I wish I could do that with more people out here in blogging land because – without you – I don’t know where I’d be right now.

    Awesome post Paul. Thanks.

    Sherry

    1. Yes I remember you guys meeting up – that was pretty cool! But I know of that feeling of sighing relief in when things fall through in something you weren’t all too keen about in the first place…lol. But most often we are surprised by the results. When I (finally) move past fears, I find that I am enriched by the interactions and actions I take.

      Anyway, thank you for the great comments – thank YOU for being here 🙂

  20. mike says:

    Pauly, you are garden variety pal. A typical alcoholic. Nothing special. You keep doing your recovery, your own way, you are going to reap the same results.

    1. Thanks Mike. Very helpful. Sorry if I am disappointing you in some way. You seem to be tossing these kinds of comments at me lately and not sure what to do with them. If you don‘t care for what I do or say you are most welcome not to follow or read. I’m 3 1/2 yrs into this and don’t often know my ass from a hole in the ground. I struggle. Fuck yeah. Am I a poster boy for AA or recovery? Nowhere near. At the same time I don’t appreciate flippant remarks about my recovery. You don’t like what I am doing, then don’t read. It’s my journey. If I relapse and die that’s my business. Thanks.

      1. mike says:

        Hey man, if I just blew smoke up your ass, I would be doing you and me a disservice.
        First off, I couldn’t run 25 miles ever. Not ever. And you do it the first time out with minimum training, in 5 hours and sumthing minutres? That is fucking phenomenal! If I had done what you did I would have a week long party in celebration.
        Second. I know your fear. I have it too. I identify with all your post’s. For month’s now you have been writing a variation of the same thing. The thing is, the one place you have to go to, you don’t want to go to. I know it and you know it. And I only know it cause I’ve been there myself and I know what you are going through. When times get tough, we gotta double down on our recovery, and meetings, because our natural inclination is to stick to ourselves. For some reason when we slack way off on meetings, all that emotional turmoil starts coming back.
        If I am reading it wrong, I apologize in advance. Hasta la vista.

        1. What did you do to go there? To that place where we don’t want to do? What was helpful? Reconnected with my sponsor and hitting some meetings this week. Thanks.

          1. mike says:

            The comment -above- from Iceman is spot on. Everybody goes through this to some degree at different stages of sobriety. My experience is, you are going run away until the pain gets too large and then you will make a decision.

            A couple of meetings here and a couple of meeting there, every couple of weeks, probably isn’t going to work for you.

            Remember the vibe you picked up At James’s anniversary or at the marathon or any other million times? That feeling and how you deal with it, is the source of all your problems. Today your drinking problem is in remission. Unfortunately, that is not enough.

            You have to work on this thinking problem. You attack your thinking problem in the same manner that you attacked your drinking problem. How many mmetings did you go to in the first 4 months?

            I guarantee you, that if you follow the suggestions’ laid out, those feelings will greatly diminish if not go away completely.

  21. Always love how your narratives unfold, Paul. Appreciate the honesty. We have all told the mirror this lie. Yeah right, we wanna be Lone Ranger. We are built for relationships. Even the triune God is in community – and He forever will be. Jesus purchased us not only into relationship with Himself but into a family of adopted brethren. So glad you’re part of a TEAM! You know you are part of us out here, too.

    And you love it.
    *wink*

    1. “And you love it” – loved that part, Diana. A knowing wink is sometimes all that helps to remind us that we’re intrinsically intertwined, whether we know it or not. And I know deep down that I need and I am needed. Just hard to break old ways of thinking, is all. I appreciate your insight, my friend. I can always count on you to point the way.

      Blessings
      Paul

      1. The knowing wink is its own kind of the secret handshake. We’re a team out here and I’ll give you grief if you hide from your blog too long.

  22. fern says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’m always touched by how in tune you are with your inner self. I’m also impressed by the actions you take to work on stuff in your life. (I’ll try not to compare or I’ll feel less than).

    I thought I was the lone wolf but I’m learning I was more like the baby cub living with an over-protective parent, who happens to be my husband. Sobriety opened up a greater social world for me in a way that worked wonders. I found a group of people that have shown me I’m not as worthless and stupid as the stories I told myself. It’s been freeing!

    I know this happened for you earlier in your sobriety because JUST LOOK AT THE CONNECTIONS YOU HAVE! Your kind, sympathetic ways have touched many people. So, this must be like phase 2, when you make connections in new ways that may not have the commonality of alcoholism. That’s a good thing, Paul. You are amazing and inspiring. 🙂

    Lastly, I heard your voice on that podcast. You sounded genuine, humble and articulate — I’m guessing the lady buying her pomegranates enjoyed hearing your stories. In between everything else you are busy doing — write a book. You’re not only mighty with the pen, you spin a great tale with your tongue. You would do well writing and promoting your book.

    I apologize if I completely missed the angle you were going for but I can’t look at what you are not doing when who you are is amazing.

    With love and admiration,

    Fern

    1. Phase 2…ha ha. Perhaps! I know that it’s a thinking problem in the end. Nothing to do with the drink, but if I don’t tackle the think, it could lead me to the drink. I would be naive to think that I have this thing licked.

      Thank you for all the kind words. It’s not always easy for me to take it in, but thank you. I do my best. Or maybe not…lol. I am very happy for you that your are finding your own voice and progressing the way you are. You too teach me.

      Paul

  23. Great post, Paul. I can relate! Sometime I purposely avoid social interactions, functions and events in case I meet people who don’t like me or reject who I am. It becomes an automatic self-preservation response. I don’t want to need people and their approval, and yet I crave it! Such a hypocrite!!! We all need each other and to establish great relationships we need to accept the risks and possible heartaches. Missed reading your posts while I have been away from the blogosphere! Now I just have to find the time to catch up on all that I have missed here at Carrythemessage!

    1. Self-preservation – I think you nailed that. I didn’t think that way, but I see it now – another coping mechanism to avoid the pain of possible rejection. What you say is bang on – great insight. We have to accept those risks, don’t we? And really, how often are we truly rejected? I can’t think of the last time I was actually rejected…and yet, it persists!

      I am so glad you’re back on the mend and back out here – was wondering what happened to Tiff!

      Be well
      Paul

  24. I definitely feel you on this, although I’m also a textbook introvert and when I am around others I have fun up to a point, and then I just need to be alone with my thoughts. Which makes me feel really guilty and often makes the initial socializing hard for me to start, anticipating the antsy-ness.

    I really hate needing people too. Growing up, asking for help led to no good. My sister paid a different price than I did for doing all the asking. She also has a shit-ton more friends than I do, but she also needs to be at the center of everything and loves the drama. I like being under the radar.

    I think it’s awesome you’ve joined a running group and hope you find it fulfilling. One good thing about running is that you can run with someone and not talk if you so choose.

    1. Hi Judith!

      I identify with much of what you said. I know folks who enjoy the drama thing too. It’s another sort of rush or high. And for introverts like us, that would be draining and pure murder…lol. I too learned that asking for help did nothing, so I became my own judge, jury and executioner…and well, that didn’t serve me well either.

      I am going to post about the running group, but it’s been great so far. As for the talking, the one woman I was running with (we have similar paces) were yakking away. She then said that we were talking because we were being polite and that maybe later we would be tired of talking…lol. Loved it! I am okay with someone who may not want to chat and good to know it goes both ways.

      Thanks for checking in – always glad to have you!

      Paul

      1. I find myself wishing that you and I were in a running group together 🙂

        1. I would enjoy that 😉

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