Needs and wants

In an attempt to “let go and let God” with the job hunt I have followed someone’s advice and started praying. I get down on my knees first thing in the morning and among other things, ask the HP to help me find the “right” job today. It’s important to say the “right” job rather than just “a job” because I am implying that there is a “right” job out there for me and HP knows how to help me find it. I don’t just want “a job”. I want to believe that HP has a plan for me and a meaningful career is involved in that plan. I clearly have no idea how to get a job that will mean something to me – that might, God forbid, actually fulfil me – so I’m leaving it up to HP.

The prayers haven’t worked yet but it has only been two days, so there you go. One of the things I need to do is figure out this patience thing. I met up with A for coffee yesterday and he reminded me of what I already knew: that praying for a couple of days isn’t going to make a miracle happen. I’ve got to keep doing it. I don’t know if it will ever work. He says that it will work eventually, in God’s time, not my time. Until now I have been reluctant to wait for things to happen in God’s time and it has driven me out of AA and made me unhappy, so for a change I’m trying things the AA way and praying continuously, regardless of how hopeless the situation may seem right now.

It was good to see A yesterday and not resent every word coming out of his mouth. I wasn’t especially friendly to him when we had lunch that time a few weeks ago and I wanted to make up for it in some way. I realised that when I was sitting there in that restaurant, seething away, I wasn’t being me. It’s never been in my nature to be confrontational and dismiss everything someone is saying. I saw A with an open mind yesterday and I told him the truth: that I need help in giving this program another try. He advised to me pray every day and to keep sharing in meetings. I know I can do those two things, so I felt better for having some practical advice to go on.

On the subject of sharing, he said that I could be really honest the next time I share and tell the meeting about my needs and wants. I’ve struggled to connect with meetings and to find myself a sober support network in the last few years: why not share about it? In recent shares I’ve skirted around it but it’s true I haven’t really come out and said it yet. No one in AA apart from this guy really knows how isolated I have felt recently. Since the only way I can let a meeting know how I’m feeling is through sharing, it appears that I have to share it. But can I? Expose my real needs and wants to a room full of alcoholics? I don’t know. Opening my mouth and saying my name is challenging enough.

When I started going to meetings eight years ago I could do it but I think that’s because my needs and wants were much simpler back then. I wanted to get sober and I wanted to become financially independent: those things are not embarrassing to share about, not really anyway. Today my needs have evolved: I need more sober friends, to not feel isolated and angry in meetings any more, to not feel like I might as well give up and die any more. If I actually have to say that in a share I go cold, I start to shake and the words don’t come out because it feels so embarrassing. The people who get to hear it are the ones who I have felt isolated from. I’m saying that I have felt isolated and alienated from these people for years, that’s what the truth is, and I feel so guilty and bad for saying it.

The goal, as we’ve established, is to make sober friends and another good way of doing that is talking to people after a meeting. The trouble with this is that I don’t know how to start conversations with people. Haven’t got a clue. If someone starts a conversation with me I’m fine – I can talk about anything (apart from my feelings of isolation and my need to belong, of course.) If no one starts a conversation with me then my only option is to go home without speaking to anyone, because the act of approaching someone and initiating contact myself is just completely alien to me. I’d really like to understand how other people do it, so that I don’t have to be that person who waits around for people to approach me any more. I’d really like to learn the skill because not getting it used to make me hate meetings like the Friday night one in town, where all I ever seemed to do was wait around at the end for people to come over and talk to me. It has been my lifelong struggle – today I can honestly say that it would change my life if I was to experience a miracle and overcome it.

Sharing honestly, talking to people at the end of the meeting, making friends: these are all things that would make me become the person I always should have been in recovery. If I could master them I’d be like all the countless people I’ve watched with envy over the years. I suspect that it’s asking too much of my HP to show me all the answers now, so I must do what I can, take baby steps and hope the rest will come later.

I can share in meetings, I can stick around for a couple of minutes at the end and smile at people, even if I can’t talk to them. Smiling might attract someone over and start a conversation. I can just do that instead of running out the minute the meeting ends. These are baby steps that I can take.

At the Friday meeting I can sit to the side of the room where everyone else sits, rather than place myself in the void in the middle where no one ever chooses to sit. I did that tonight, and it made sharing easier for a start because I felt more a part of the meeting than I normally do. When I started speaking I nearly touched on the subject of feeling isolated and wanting to make more friends, but I had to stop short. I only managed to say that I had fallen out with some sober friends a few years ago and it had led to a difficult period in my recovery. A few weeks or months down the line, I might be able to conclude that statement with the verbalisation of what I really need, which is to replace the sober friends I lost. Tonight it was just too hard to say everything.

Once I’d spoken I tried not to expect everyone to come up and congratulate me at the end of the meeting. It seemed to work as lots of people did come up to me to hug me, say it was nice to hear me speak, ask how I’d been. I heard some people talk about going for dinner: I stopped short of inviting myself, even though they probably wouldn’t have minded, because I’m just not there yet. It’s like with the sharing: baby steps. They went off and I was left to hope that some time soon I’ll be able to do it.

Before I left to go home I saw B, who I’ve always liked because he always wants to talk to me about what I’m reading. We’re friends on Goodreads somehow and we seem to have similar tastes in books. Once we’d chatted for a minute about what we were reading, I nearly asked him to be my sponsor, but didn’t. I’m just about ready to accept that I need a sponsor again, and I think B would be great. Maybe I’ll be able to find the courage to ask him next time.

As I went home it was much easier to feel disappointed about all the things I hadn’t achieved in the meeting rather than feel good about what I had achieved. With some hindsight, I must surely see that progress has been made. Six months ago I was leaving that meeting every week feeling miserable. Tonight I didn’t just share, I spoke to loads of people after the meeting, I was able to smile and feel connected. Without a doubt I had brought a new attitude to it and it worked. I went to it with an open mind, not expecting anything to happen. Earlier this year I was completely closed to it.

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