I still remember the last time I made a real friend. It was January 20th, 2011; the night I met my wife.
No, this is not a story about how I met my wife and then became a recluse who shunned all social contact outside of my relationship with my significant other. Really, nothing could be further from the truth; my wife has always encouraged me to go out and enjoy myself and I’ve often taken the opportunity to do so.
No, this is about the realization that I haven’t made a single real friend since… well, since before alcohol.
Anyone I know in “real life” would probably be surprised to read this post because I’m more or less universally well-liked. I’m gregarious, friendly, helpful, funny, intelligent – just a decent, easy going dude (If a little immodest). I’m usually one of the more boisterous people in a group, and I’m happiest if I’m making those around me laugh.
But being well-liked by someone is not the same as having a real friendship with that person. A meaningful friendship requires that you be able to talk about the things that make you uncomfortable. It requires accepting a certain degree of vulnerability. Accepting that vulnerability opens you up to the risk that someone will see the “true you” and not like what they see – or even worse, exploit what they see to harm you. To me, that is simply unacceptable.
My family’s discovery of this blog was one of the most devastating things that’s happened to me recently because of how vulnerable I’ve made myself here. This blog contains shards of the real me, the part you’re not supposed to see.
My relationships, or at least the ones I’ve formed since I started drinking, are all superficial. I show exactly what I want to show, and absolutely nothing more. And what I want to show is carefully curated to protect myself from risk and present myself in the best possible light. It’s pathetic, but I realize now that the risk I’m protecting myself against is that someone might (gasp) not like me.
Sobriety has helped me realize that being universally well-liked is actually kind of a bad thing – it means I’ve never shown anybody anything except what I think they’ll like. Nobody dislikes me because I’ve never stood for anything! There’s nothing there! I’m completely nebulous – I’ll agree with whatever you tell me! I’ll like whatever you like… Just so long as you like me! I become whatever you want me to be.
Alcohol was the one thing that allowed me to become vulnerable at times. It was the only thing that could pierce my armor and allow me to open up to people. In a strange way I owe a great debt of gratitude to alcohol – I would never had met my wife without it. I probably would have been too afraid to say a word to her; or I would have just said the same boring shit that I say to everyone. And she would have thought, oh he’s nice; and then in a day or two she’d have no memory of me just like everyone else.
Since becoming sober six weeks ago I have not hung out with anyone but my family. Drinking was the glue that held my relationships with all my “friends” together. I realize now that there’s nothing there – only the most superficial of relationships that exist solely to facilitate and legitimize the drinking.
I want to get better though. I want to make real friends because let’s face it – I’m lonely. I miss talking to my buddies the way I did when I was a kid. I miss having stupid inside jokes. I miss saying and doing stupid crap and sharing memories.
I need to find a way to accept vulnerability. But like everything else with sobriety so far, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do, and absolutely no idea how to do it.
Well my friends (see what I did there), I’ll see you in week 7… Continue reading “No Quarter – An Alcoholic’s Recovery: Week 6 – No More Friends”