I love people. I love the women and I love the men.
I can say that now. I never dared confess that before. Unless I was drinking, on my way towards being extra tipsy. Then I said it with ease to anyone I happened to be falling in love with after a few drinks and a really deep conversation.
I love you, bro! I love you, sis! Y’all are here! *points two fingers at eyes* Right here with me! You feel me? Yea, I know you do! We feel each other! You get where I’m coming from. I love all you guys!
In those bygone drinking days I had learned — as an occasional socially awkward young adult —that drunks are allowed to be loving. Bubbly personalities tend not to be welcome among soberly mixed groups. People like that are annoying. We, the bubbly ones, are the punchlines in jokes.
On the other hand, weirdly enough, almost everyone gets a kick out of the effusively loving drunk. So that’s the kind of alcoholic I tended to be, the happy drunk. The life of the party.
Then I got sober. And for the first few years of sobriety I hated every fuckin body who wasn’t related to me. Hated them. I used to walk into the Friday night AA meetings growling, relieved that the week was finally done, and relieved that I made it through another five days of exchanges with people who I was certain were put on earth to drive me crazy. I was growly in those early AA days because all I could do was suck it up and find my accountability in the sober scenarios of life, act like a proper grownup. There would be no more drinking to cushion social pitfalls or blur my reality.
Sober days became sober months and sober months became sober years.
When I look back now I can see that I am right back where I started in life before I turned to alcohol as a crutch. I always did want to be friendly and loving. I was like the Gomer Pyles and Chrissy Snows of television world. I was also a lot like Freddie from A Different World. I smiled too much and laughed too readily. I had to find a way to live in a world where most people didn’t behave this way. It was frustrating. Pretending to be things that I wasn’t also made me angry. But I did what I had to do to get by, changed myself to fit in.
Whew! Glad that’s all over. Nowadays I am my truest self more consistently, whether anyone likes my ways or not. Nowadays I say, I love you in mixed company with increasing ease. Nowadays I say, I love you …. a lot. And if it makes others uncomfortable, I no longer make their discomfort my problem.
I burned down my mental house and started living life anew. How did I do this? How did I burn down the house? Tune in to the latest episode of If Not Now, When? to find out. Listen to Burning Down the House—Part 2 here or on iTunes.