So, today I went back into Uni to try again with my final year research. I brought my questionnaires with me, and I really thought I was going to get some filled in today. Unfortunately the fear hit me as soon as I got on the train this morning, and it got progressively worse during the journey, so that by the time I got to University I felt just as nervous as I did yesterday morning. I was so nervous I couldn’t approach anyone. I sat through the afternoon’s lecture with crazy thoughts going through my mind, such as “how am I going to fake 100 questionnaires?” It was hell, and the only thing that stopped me from losing my mind was the realisation that I could ask for help. I don’t think I can do this alone. I will have to ask my friends if they can find participants for me, because it’s just too much for me to handle by myself. I can’t approach strangers, I just can’t.
I was beating myself up about this as I left Uni and made my way across London to an AA meeting that I haven’t been to for a while. I decided to go to this one, instead of the one I normally go to in my local area with C, because the chair tonight would be given by T, a guy who I have considered something of a friend from the start of my recovery. I wanted to see him tonight as I know that he will be leaving the country at the weekend for a career move to Germany, and I may not see him again for a year.
When I got to the meeting all the usual people were there from the gay meetings, and I couldn’t speak to any of them. T was at the front of the room and I couldn’t even approach him. I think my anxiety over the stuff going on at University really affected my ability to be normal tonight. I isolated myself at the back of the room, while everyone else socialised ‘over there’ away from me. It came as something of a relief when my sponsor walked into the room just before the start of the meeting. I kind of knew that he would be going to that meeting tonight, which is another reason why I wanted to go. We talked about my week, and I explained honestly why I had not phoned him for so long. I told him I had been lazy and feeling sorry for myself too much to pick up the phone. He was very understanding, as ever. I also told him about my lunch commitment on Sunday and we have agreed to meet up next week to continue with my step 5 work instead. I’m now looking forward to getting back to step 5. I need to throw myself back into this program, because I haven’t been working it properly this week, and it’s really affected me.
Tonight’s meeting was OK. People shared about a lot of stuff that resonated with me, such as parenting issues. I wanted to talk about my father – it seemed such a perfect opportunity to do so, and I rarely share about my father in meetings, something I know I could definitely do more – but I couldn’t open my mouth. My barriers were up and I didn’t have the energy to bring them down. I left the meeting only saying goodbye to my sponsor. I didn’t even attempt to socialise with T and the others. I don’t know why I’ve always had such a problem with that particular group of people. I knew they would be going to a restaurant afterwards, for T’s farewell meal. I would like to have gone, but my head was telling me that I wouldn’t be welcome there, and I relied on old behaviour to protect myself from rejection.
My head tells me a load of complete rubbish, I know this and yet I STILL can’t ignore it. I STILL isolate and push people away, when the truth is that I may well have been missed at that meal tonight. They may have been wondering why I wasn’t there, why I didn’t even say goodbye before leaving the meeting. I’m so ashamed of how I’ve behaved tonight, I could cry. It breaks my heart that I’ve probably hurt T’s feelings, and that I won’t get the chance to apologise to him until he comes back to England next year. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve been in this situation. I’ve pushed T’s friendship away many times in the past, along with the friendship of many others, just to maintain the illusion that I am protecting myself from rejection. As I’m doing it I know it’s wrong, but I can’t stop myself. I can’t take that leap of faith with certain people, I can’t take the risk and trust them fully.
They’ll all be enjoying themselves now at the restaurant. If I had gone along, it may have been great, but it may equally have been awful. I may have looked at them, as I often do, and thought that I didn’t deserve to be with them. To me, they’re still the ‘cool’ group, and I’m still the outsider, in my head. I thought I’d gotten over this, but tonight was the first time I’d seen them all together in ages, and I was reminded that that feeling hasn’t gone away at all. I still can’t get over this resentment, and it really pisses me off that no one else seems to have the same problem. People share about being socially phobic all the time, yet they don’t look it. It’s been a long time since I found myself resenting them for that. I thought I’d realised a long time ago that people aren’t actually lying when they share about being terrified in social situations.
Tonight I sat there judging people, wanting to shout at them for claiming to be ‘terrified’ when most of the time they all look absolutely fine amongst the group. I feel like I’m the only one who ever really struggles with it. Why can I never completely be at ease in these situations? I’m still nervous, all the bloody time. What scares me the most is that I know there’s only one thing I can do to change the situation. Instead of deliberately isolating myself at the back of the room, giving off bad vibes with my closed body language, I should be opening up much more, sitting at the front of the room and sharing freely. I should be talking to people properly, instead of only saying “hello” to them sometimes. I should be doing all of this by now because it’s easy. There’s nothing stopping me from changing, except myself.
I hate the fact that I have to work so hard just to do the things that are seemingly easy for others. Right now, I’m sat here almost in tears, feeling so sorry for myself and so angry at life, just like I was on the 15th July 2007, my first day of sobriety. It’s like nothing has changed. People keep telling me I’ve changed and some days I feel it too, but today the only real change I can see in my life is that I’ve made a few more friends. That’s it. I’m aware that I’m letting fear and anger cloud my judgement, and it’s blocking me from seeing all the good things that have happened to me recently. Tomorrow I’ll probably be OK again. That pisses me off even more right now, the fact that this stupid, pointless resentment isn’t even going to last.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.