I met with my sponsor Sunday at my favorite coffee shop, the one where I write, read, and ponder life (not nearly as much as I’d like to…pesky work). One of the reasons I like the place is that there are generally few people when I go. I met David around 1:30, which isn’t my normal time to visit the place, so I was curious to see how many people would be there.
Not many, as it turns out. There were a handful of college students, and most of them got their drinks to go. The long-haired, older fellow who types away furiously on his laptop and only takes breaks to pop outside to fire up his pipe was there. His always there, and it’s kind of comforting.
I sat at a table and began looking over Step 10 before David arrived. I glanced around the place and sighed contentedly. My family was at home, winding down after church and lunch and watching a Harry Potter movie. I had about ten minutes to myself and an hour or so to meet with David and. It was lovely.
David joined me and we caught up and then discussed Step 10. After that, David cleared his throat and said, “If I could give you some advice, I’d like to see you get a little more involved.”
“Involved?” I replied.
“Well, yeah,” David continued. “I mean, you got AA meetings locked down, your work, and your family situation is getting better every day. But I’d like to see you be more social. It seems all you do it go to work, meetings, and then home to your family. I’m afraid one day you’ll just explode.”
I accepted what David said and didn’t outright reject his advice, as is my wont. During my time at rehab, Katie pointed out (accurately) that I visibly reject anything people say that I don’t like. I contort my face and pull my body back; my wife has mentioned the same thing. I’ve worked to control it, but it’s not easy. I kept my face relatively neutral when David was talking, and I’ve been seriously considering his words.
He’s right–I don’t do anything social. I haven’t had a close friend in fifteen years, but that hasn’t bothered me, and it’s not particularly bothering me now that I’m sober. My anxiety level is down in social situations, and even though I’m still on medication for anxiety (and a mood stabilizer that’s a godsend), I feel much better about myself and my interactions with people.
But I’m still an introvert. I’m not shy, however, and I think some folks confuse shyness with introversion. I’m a teacher, for crying out loud, so I don’t have the luxury of being shy. When I teach, I’m animated, energetic, and I help every student that I can. I love teaching and interacting with students, but it does drain me. I have to be careful and practice good self-care, take naps when I can, and have time alone to recharge when I need it. If I keep everything in balance, I feel pretty damn good at the end of the day when I lay my sober head down on the pillow. If I don’t keep things in balance, I get all pissy and cranky, and no one wants that, including me.
I’m going to run all this by my therapist when we meet next. Left to my own devices, I’ll continue working, going to meetings, and heading home…but my life doesn’t stop there. My interior, creative life is extremely important to me, too, and I’m happy to report that it’s flourishing. My wife gave me a wonderful acoustic guitar for our fifteenth anniversary, and I’ve been playing the hell out of it. I haven’t had an acoustic since the neck of my old one snapped years ago. This weekend, I also managed to write a song, a poem, and work on the draft of a story. In the process, I didn’t ignore my kids, but I told them firmly when I was working on my creative projects. They aren’t hobbies; they’re passions, and I often use the phrase “I’m working” when the kids ask me to do something and I’m in the middle of a story or song. I’m not rude about it (though I can be). I’m protective, and I think I should be.
I’m happy with the rhythm of my life at this point and feel absolutely no need to add anything else, like socializing. I was like this before I started drinking, too. I had a small group of friends, but I spent far more time by myself than I did with others. I’m not isolating; I’m just living my life as a sober, introverted person.
Another thing Katie said stuck with me, and I’ve said it here probably more than once: in recovery, we have choices. When I was an active alcoholic, drinking severely limited my choices. Now that I’m sober, I get to create the kind of recovery I want. I’m not blocking people out, when we a meeting’s over, I head to the ol’ minivan and take off. That may change one day, or it may not. Right now, my system ain’t broke, so I ain’t gonna fix it.
That’s all for now. I wish all of you a happy and sober Monday.