When I’m awake and moving through the day, I need to remember to look at the things around me. Look at the sky above me. Look ahead and side to side. Acknowledge the nouns around. Pay attention to anything but my self-absorbed shoes.
Step Twelve: having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
One of my strongest character defects, one that’s been a holdover from my drinking days, is isolation. In the truest sense of the word, I spent a great deal of time alone over the past few decades. But I also learned how to isolate in a crowd, or in a meeting room, or at Thanksgiving. It goes like this: keep my head down and hang back. Speak when spoken to, and minimize the follow-up questions. Everything was better once it was over.
And that desire to get everything over with still pulses strong within my brain. I’m still rushing to the end goal of true isolation, the one that alcoholic me believes to be 100% earned. I’ve dealt with everything. There aren’t any outstanding responsibilities. That’s how I know my life’s still manageable. Everyone can get along without me for a few hours, while I go succumb to my powerlessness over alcohol.
Eventually, they did learn to get along without me. Of course, I resented it.
Well, what did I expect? That everyone would just sit and wait? Actually, that’s exactly what I thought, even though there was plenty of evidence to the contrary. But boozy time has a way of stretching the days into years, and the blur is permanent. Things continued to change and evolve for those around me, while I continued to become more and more of what I didn’t want.
Today: I know what I want, and more importantly, what I desperately need: to be a part of the world. It’s not always fun, and it’s not always interesting, but at least it’s real.