Thankfully it’s been a much more interesting day. I was back at Uni, which meant I had some pretty involving stuff to occupy my mind with for the best part of the day. When I went in I saw friends, had a good chat, and I also got to feel clever taking part in a presentation on a pretty complicated subject (temporal construal theory in economics, for anyone who cares!)
Afterwards I made my way to town where I attended the meeting that I usually attend on Fridays. On my way there I was really looking forward to it, as I know it’s a really good meeting now, but I couldn’t help remembering that whenever I’ve looked forward to meetings in the past, my expectations have usually been let down. This is not because the meeting turns out to be bad, it’s just because reality can never possibly live up to my lofty expectations. No matter how good the meeting is I always seem to be let down by something, and so I was very weary of expecting anything fantastic to happen tonight.
When I got there I saw everyone I knew, felt welcome instantly, but of course not as many people said “hello” to me as I would have liked, so my hopes for the evening were shattered instantly. I might be coming across as a bit of a misery guts – but this is my alcoholic thinking that I’m trying to describe. No matter how many people say “hello” to me it will never be enough, and even when lots of people do greet me I’m thinking: “Why are they saying “hello” to me? They must be making fun of me.” I have a warped perception of reality which means that I can’t just see things the way they are; there’s always an imperfection, always something wrong.
So once again I sat down in the midst of that prickly, awkward uncomfortableness that I always get in social situations. For the first half hour or so I struggled to ignore it, even as people were sharing. When I’m not feeling ignored I’m paranoid that everyone is looking at me, judging me. Someone said that in their share tonight, and it captured the precise social discomfort that I always have. It’s going to take a long time for it to sink in that no one is looking at me and judging me; no one is bothered by what I’m wearing or how I’m sitting in my chair.
Eventually I settled in a bit and found the strength to share about something that I’ve never told anyone before. The chair had talked about a suicide attempt at the age of seven; somehow tonight I just knew it would be the right thing to do to talk about my own suicide bid, at the age of sixteen. As I was talking about it I found myself speaking like a normal, confident, intelligent and mature person in recovery. For the first time my voice wasn’t broken by nerves; for the first time I didn’t beat myself up for missing bits out of the story or not sounding poignant enough as soon as I’d finished.
Once I’d finished I felt relieved, a part of the room once again. After the meeting was over my self-centred inner child expected everyone to come up to me and congratulate me on my stunning bravery. What happened is that a couple of people told me they’d liked my share, and that was it. My selfish inner child was determined to get a resentment over this lack of attention, whilst my rational, serene inner adult refused to fall into the pit of negativity again. I went home calmly ignoring the waves of resentment, reminding myself that I will have the rest of my life to give attention-grabbing shares in meetings. Tonight I shared what I needed to share and it does not matter how many people did or didn’t congratulate me afterwards. The world doesn’t revolve around me; it’s not important what other people think about me.
I got to the tube station and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by someone from the meeting who I’d never spoken to before. He was a visitor to London, from America, and would be getting the same train as me. For fifteen minutes or so we chatted freely about our recoveries. It was very pleasant and refreshing. After he’d gone I was humbled and rather astonished that I’d managed to hold a friendly conversation with someone I’d never met before. I didn’t just sit there and let him do the speaking – I took an equal part in the exchange, expressing my own opinions and being fully myself for the whole fifteen minutes. The nerves didn’t bother me at all. So I was able to come home even more content with the evening’s events, having made a new friend. That person brightened my day, just as I probably brightened his.
Today I’m grateful that I managed to make a new friend. I’m grateful that I was able to remain confident, calm and content all day. I’m grateful that I didn’t have a drink today. I’m grateful that I did the required work for the afternoon’s lecture. I’m grateful that I always have a warm and secure home to come back to.