Tuesday, January 19, 2010

admission is the first step

It takes a tremendous amount of...grace...to look at one's life and admit that the way they've been living it is no longer acceptable. I've been given this grace; I've been gifted with this insight. And this insight is what's prompted my resolve to live life more boldly.

To be a light unto the world, in whatever capacity that may take, I must be among the world - and for years now, I've literally been hiding from it, in one way or another. And I can't do that anymore. My inner, higher self has expanded exponentially and I can't keep living as though it hasn't.

It's a paradox if there ever was one. I love the beautiful and curious things that other people bring in to my life. I love what people add to my experience; I honestly do. I love when I allow myself to be a part of things. I love when I allow myself to interact with others and to step outside myself. I love when I'm given the opportunity to offer something of value to someone else. I love when someone else benefits from my presence as I do from theirs. I want to give and be a blessing to my brothers and sisters of the world. The trouble is...I can't bless them, I can't really love or receive them, if I'm spending all my energy fearing them. And as hard as it is to admit - I do fear them.

By nature, I'm more introverted; I love, and am replenished by, time alone. But what I've done is use this as an excuse to convince myself that I really am happy living in isolation. And what I've come to see is, that most of the time, that just isn't the case. It's simply a pattern of avoidance I've cultivated over a long period of time that has developed in to a very real case of social anxiety/phobia.

There was a time when I wouldn't leave the house. I wouldn't go to the grocery store. I wouldn't even ride in the car for fear of being seen. I've come along way since then, but still, if given the chance, I'd say that 70% of the time, I'll avoid social contact if I can. I even avoid talking on the phone. And this response to things is diametrically opposed to my higher wish to rendezvous with all that life has to offer.

With the new year, I've decided that this is one of the things I am going to change in my life - probably the most challenging of them all. And I have to say, my first attempts at this have not only been feeble, but fruitless. I signed up with Meetup and joined a group designed to bring people with the same kind of social anxieties together, allowing them the chance to get to know people in a supportive environment. Another group I joined was headed by a psychologist and professor that teaches Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The first meeting was this past weekend and it had to do with overcoming shyness and anxiety. I couldn't even bring myself to attend. That, coupled with the fact that no one even said hello to me or introduced themselves, made me decide to delete my profile and quit Meetup altogether. I can see how silly it is to expect total strangers to automatically want to befriend me! Honestly, I just wanted an excuse not to go through with it. And I didn't.

Another approach I took was to join a telephone personals line, hoping to meet friends that I could talk to and get to know. Bombarded with ads from people only interested in sex, I realized quickly that I'd chosen the wrong forum to seek friendship. And again, I knew better; I'm not a stranger to this kind of thing. A few people seemed cool, but one guy mistook a message I sent as being "clingy" and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Again, another excuse to bail.

Of the two, the Meetup group had the most potential, but using other people reaching out to me as a condition to stay online, was just setting myself up for failure. Both of these approaches were transparently flawed and I used them to make myself feel like I was actually doing something. Fortunately, I've always been brilliant at spotting my own bullshit.

Anyway, now that I'm done busting my chops for screwing around, I need to try again. I will try again. Maybe I'll sign back up for Meetup. I'm going to have to actually do something - and that pisses me off! ;-) Posting online, not attending meetings, and sending text messages does not equal bold - and it doesn't count as dangerous.


  1. well ... you could always talk to me on the phone to get warmed up! I'm just a total stranger who befriended you. Hey, wait a minute ... actually, YOU are a total stranger who befriended ME! hmm. maybe you've been acting boldly for longer than you are giving yourself credit for?

  2. Thank you, Karen.


    And I may just take you up on that!