Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yes, Brain, I'm Talking to You: And I'm Not Listening

I've been dreading this upcoming weekend. There's a family reunion we are attending (Chelle's Dad's side of the family), and though I know a handful of them, most of them will be new to me. In fact, some of them even Chelle hasn't seen since she was a child. Usually when we hang out with Chelle's family, it's really Chelle's mom's side of the family that we're with--largely because most of them are still here in California. This one is different; there will be about fifty people, screaming kids, adults I don't know, and my introverted side is kicking in already. We're not even there yet.

We're renting an RV for the weekend because there is no way 50 people can fit themselves into a single house. So people are bringing tents and pop-up trailers and RVs and camping all over her parents' forty acres. I've said jokingly, half seriously, numerous times: "I'm just going to hide in the RV!"

I've downloaded four movies to iTunes to spend watching in case the wifi isn't working and I need to get away. There are some big drinkers in this crowd (there's at least one or two in every crowd; I don't care who your family is; and that's not a judgment, just a statement of fact). There is also, I'm told, a born-again Christian and a bet going on which of the family fights with another family member first. Chelle is taking some money. I say this half proudly, because I know that if anyone were to have the audacity to tell us we're going to hell because we're gay, or that our marriage isn't real because we're gay, or that my tits can't be real because I'm gay--you get the idea--Chelle is not going to take that sitting down.

But conflict and confrontation have always been trouble spots for me. It's not so much the actual conflict as it my fear of the conflict, or my fear of what MIGHT happen if there's a conflict. (See how we alcoholics live in our heads?) No conflict has killed me yet, but the way I try to avoid them, you'd think I'd at least have lost an eye or a limb at some point. Me, in a strange situation, surrounded by drinking people: pass me the booze. Let me tune out. Let me not care.

Well, that way of coping with anxiety is no longer an option.

And then I came across a quotation today that puts it all in perspective. It's something overheard at an AA meeting:

"It took me a long time to understand that saying, 'What you think of me is none of my business.' Now I get it. And when I'm kind of getting worked up over somebody or what I think somebody thinks I just say that to myself and it kind of brings me up short: What they think of me is none of my business."

It's true. What is it, when you boil away all the bullshit, about a confrontation with another that I actually fear? I fear they may judge me harshly. I fear they may judge me unfairly. I fear they won't like me.

That takes all the power away. I have to chuckle at how inane it really is. Why would I care what anybody else thinks, as long as I'm okay with myself? (Which I finally am.) What they think of me has nothing to do with me. If they like me, fine; if they don't like me, fine; and if they don't, that has everything to do with them and not me. It's their business.

There are so many constructive ways to just smile nicely, say, "I disagree, but you're entitled to your opinion," and just walk away. If it even comes to that. Chances are good that every last bit of fear I'm feeling can just be chalked up to the lies my brain likes to tell me. Well, brain. I'm not listening to you anymore. Chances are excellent that they will all find me completely loveable and nobody is going to be spoiling for a fight at all. Why not proceed with the assumption that everything will be just fine?

To end on a sillier note, I snapped a quick photo inside the RV today. That's my pillow, for resting my hapless head.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny how a lot of us are 'people pleasers'? We go out of our way to make everyone like us! I could walk into a room of 100 people where 99 like me and 1 doesn' what do I do? Get upset,worried,and spend all my time wanting to know why they don't like me and what can I do to change that? In the meantime there's 99 others waiting to be nice to me!! Why can't I just accept that as just life? Why endeavor for 100%?? Who really cares except me? But no! That 1 person can have me thinking about a drink! Well bugger them! How dare they?Taking up my head space without paying rent!Next time I'll go the others and pretend I don't even notice that 1 person...or will I??? Alcoholism is a funny dis-ease!But I have it and I'll look it in the eye and say 'Just for today you're not winning'! You'll be just fine Joyce.Think of all the rest of us that go through exactly the same thing! Be your wonderful self,be proud that you're strong enough to be there sober,and remember your friends that are thinking of you!FEAR...Face Everything And Recover!xxx

Joyce said...

I know, isn't that maddening? I like the idea of making somebody pay rent for my self-defeating thoughts, though... I'd be rich! LOL
Thanks for the support. :) I know I'll be fine.
But just in case, I have movies hahaha

Shannon said...

Thoughts like these can trigger any addiction if allowed and it's hard to overcome the temptation. You are strong, funny, smart, and lovable. If others can't see these qualities, then it's their problem and there will be many others who can. You'll do great and will have great posts for us :)

Joyce said...

The more people in recovery I meet, the more it becomes really clear that all of them are profoundly sensitive people who never learned how to cope well with feelings of fears, anxiety, grief, etc. We are so filled with fear that it freezes us right where we are; arrests our personal growth and we start living in our heads and relying on our addiction of choice, whatever it may be. Recovery is not just giving up your substance--that's the easy part. It's then finally learning how to cope well and how to be an adult and how to live with your words and actions aligning with your values.
We actually have a nice set-up here: the wifi does reach our RV from the house, so I'm sitting outside in a lawn chair as I type this.

FROG'S new PAD said...

good one. good words!