It's end of term and I'm in the middle of researching and writing a paper and deadlines and all that jazz, so I haven't posted in over a week. But I'm still here.
Eleven weeks! At the beginning of the semester, I set myself 13 weeks as a goal. I don't buy into the whole goal-directed life thing all that much. To me, it's better to have a general sense of where I'm going, and then stay open to what happens. But pointing myself toward sober meant reorienting what I was willing to be open to, and I'm glad I did set a goal. I won't start drinking at 13 weeks. Now that I'm here, I doubt I will ever drink again, though I'm not going to try and work out all the details of that plan before lunch today! I'm sticking with the foreseeable future, and there's no booze there for me!
At this point, in this second round of not drinking, I'm realizing some things about myself that surprise me. One is this: I'm actually not all that shy or anxious. How is this possible? I am plenty of awkward things, that's for sure. I am opinionated, and intense, a bit difficult. I'm not everyone's cup of tea. But I enjoy the back and forth of a good discussion, and I will neither give up my argument to appease someone nor bully someone into doing the same. Disagreement is uncomfortable, but maybe learning to sit with it will lead to better discussions. And I think that's part of what I'm learning, how to sit in the discomfort. Discomfort is a big part of what used to cause me so much anxiety, and that really is fading. It's not gone. But I'm starting to see that being anxious is not some essence of who I am, which I had long thought it to be.
Same with being shy. It's not that other people have thought of me as shy, but I have been so anxious in so many social settings, I just accepted that anxiety as some essence of myself, and I called it shyness, or being unsociable. But it isn't either of those things. I like being with people, bantering and jousting about ideas, or just being silly. And without being all tangled up in my anxiety, I can get out of my own way and enjoy being social. Now, my version of social will sometimes seem a little egghead to many people's. I'd rather talk about something I read (or something you read) than go dancing, so I'm not going to be the life of any party. But that's not being antisocial. It's just a different kind of social. I remember years ago being on a bus, talking to a friend about a George Steiner essay I'd read. She was embarrassed and shushed me. For her, taking about that sort of thing on the bus was "pretentious," and we had to stick to frothy commentary on trivial matters, or something like that. But I think that's just as pretentious, faking being interested in what's considered normal, and keeping your own interests locked up in private so no one thinks you're a geek or nerd or whatever the current term is for that sort of thing. Maybe sometimes I'm a bit egghead for my rural-born, down-to-earth family or the people at work, and I'm a bit down-to-earth for folks who can talk about ontology the way my people talk about hockey or the weather. So I'm not an easy fit into lots of the kinds of social events that crop up. But that's not the same as being shy or antisocial or anxious.
The other day I enjoyed going for drinks with some interesting people. Cran and soda for me thanks, to everyone else's beer, and I didn't care! Not even a twinge of wanting a beer (or the awful wine at the pub) for me. I was happier not drinking. I didn't have to talk all the time, and I didn't worry that I wasn't getting a word in. I wasn't monitoring myself at all. I took part in the conversation, and made the occasional witty comment when something struck me as funny. I was in it, enjoying it. I wasn't my (old) usual several steps outside, watching myself and evaluating how I was going. Man, that stuff was exhausting! I'm getting over being too caught in my small, separate self, and that leaves me more open to actually participating with other people.
I keep writing about this presence thing. I see now this is what I was writing about a few weeks ago. But I keep learning it, and it keeps surprising me. I say I'm not much of a dancer. But it occurs to me that what I'm talking about, enjoying conversation and interaction and participation, getting out of my own separate-self way so I can take part, it's all a big dance, isn't it? Getting over all that tangled mess that I thought was "me" lets me take part in the big dynamic mess of life. who knows? If I get comfortable enough with this, maybe I'll start dancing after all.
But for now, I'm off to write a paper. For anyone who read my last post, the thesis is more or less done and accepted. I have to defend, but the writing is done, barring some minor edits. Hooray for that! One last paper to go, and though it's a big one, I think it will be fun doing it.
Happy start of spring to you all. Peace and joy and sunny days to you. And dancing, whatever that looks like in your world!