Things are going well, generally. I’m still keeping on top of the Uni work, I think, doing a bit every day. For my main project I’ve written about half the introduction, which is good news because the introduction is always the hardest part of a report to write. So there’s nothing to worry about on that score, I guess. I’m still getting to lots of meetings, as well, and the relationship with the sponsor is still a working one. I think we’re finally going to get on with the steps together this weekend; we should be meeting at some point on Saturday so I can get step 3 done and make a start on step 4. I’ll be looking forward to it because it’s way too long since I left my program at step 2. It’s a good thing I’m looking forward to doing step 3 now – a month ago I wasn’t. So in a way maybe it’s good that my program was left on a hiatus all those weeks ago. If I’d jumped straight into step 3 after finishing step 2 with the first sponsor, I may not have been ready.
There’s still a bit of fear every time I go into a meeting. Last night, for instance, I felt only a bit less nervous on my way to the Tuesday meeting that I always attend than the first time I went there in July. You may say ‘a bit less nervous’ is a good sign, but it would be nice if I was ‘a lot less nervous’. So I feel like on the social side of things, I’m changing very slowly, and I don’t like it. I was able to share about this last night – the main chair had talked about the socializing after meetings being as important as the meetings themselves, and I forced myself to admit in front of the room that I still didn’t get how to feel comfortable in those post-meeting situations, where everyone is standing around chatting. I talked about finding it impossible to approach people I don’t know very well, so that people have to approach me if they want a conversation with me; I also said that I still can’t always respond when someone does approach me. Being sociable has never come naturally to me, in my whole life, and it’s beginning to look like it will take a very long time for me to learn to feel differently about it.
I’m afraid to say that there is someone in the meetings who is avoiding me completely. It’s not just me avoiding him. So he must in some way feel differently towards me than he did a few weeks ago, when we were friends. I’d love to say that doesn’t bother me, but of course it would hurt me if it turned out to be true that he does dislike me now. Still, I’m not ready to do anything about it. I can’t do anything about it. It’s hard enough for me to behave normally with friends all the time. It wouldn’t be in my nature to go up to this person, take him aside and sort things out. I wouldn’t know what to say. The reason I know I’ve done something to upset him is because I know what he’s like – though I haven’t known him for long, I know him well enough to know he’s just like me, and if it was the other way round, I’d be behaving just the same. I am behaving just the same. We’ve come to feel awkward with each other and neither of us knows how to rectify it. We’re both painfully similar and I guess it’s just as hard for him to deal with that as it is for me.
I’ve actually spent so much time thinking about this, I’m embarrassed. I’m doing exactly the same thing that I’ve done with people before, those who started off friends and quickly became enemies because of the co-dependency issues that I have in my head. Hardly any friendships and none of my ‘serious’ relationships could ever last because I either got too dependent on them or they got too dependent on me. Mostly it was the former, but none of these ‘relationships’ ever lasted long enough to really become important.
My relationships with anyone are fraught with difficulties and awkwardness, insecurity and mistrust. I don’t just get nervous walking into meetings because I’m scared of talking to strangers; I’m scared of seeing people I know, just in case they’re pissed off with me for something I’ve done. Usually no one’s pissed off with me for anything, but at any given time I’ll generally feel awkward with about four or five people in the room, just because I haven’t spoken to them for a while, or I once caught them looking at me in a funny way. All the evidence I’ve got for this particular person’s ‘resentment’ towards me comes from looks that he’s given me recently, as well as the fact that I feel resentful towards him – my feeling resentful towards him makes it easy for me to believe that he must be resentful too.
I haven’t shared about this issue in meetings yet. It would be far too honest and profound. Just thinking about it makes me feel a bit cold. When I get onto steps 4 and 5 with my sponsor I know I’m going to have to tell him about how I can’t be normal with certain people – to tell the truth I’m not looking forward to that part of the program. No one likes doing step 4 and 5. That’s why they’re the most important steps. This particular problem that I have with feeling awkward around certain people is one of the main reasons I first turned to drink, and if I don’t get it out in the open in step 5 I could eventually turn to drink again. I might feel like I never want to drink again at the moment, but I don’t know what’s around the corner. The programme is just for today, which means that we have to work it fully and refrain from getting complacent every single day for the rest of our lives. The progress I’ve made in the past 109 days may well be greater than I can give it credit for at the moment, but I still have so much progress to make. I was talking about my dreams last week, the things I’d like to have in my life, such as a good job, a partner, and a home of my own – these are not just naïve clichés, they are things that normal people can and regularly do have.
A few people in the meeting last night talked about becoming ‘normal’ thanks to their programs and how happy that had made them; I really want to be normal too, because once I am normal, I know that the things I want will really start to come to me. At the moment my head isn’t normal, it’s ill. I don’t love myself. So I can’t expect a partner to love me. In the past the partners I’ve been with had such power over me, because I gave it to them. I was never on an equal footing with anyone. As for jobs, I had no power there either because I wasn’t really choosing the jobs properly, I was just taking anything that came along. In the future I want to go about these things differently, but can I really do it better next time? Could I really choose the ideal job and partner and be happy with them? These things seem very uncertain, which is, I suppose, what has always scared me about them. I’ve said it a million times, but life is uncertain, as well as strange, and difficult, and complex. What’s happening to me in recovery is that I’m finding out so many truths about life and I’m beginning to accept them; I’m slowly exposing myself to the real world, to honesty, and to love. This process of opening up, which I practice a little bit every time I share in meetings and speak to my sponsor on the phone, is bringing me forwards into the world and, I hope, making me a little bit more normal.