Flying on a Wing and a Prayer...
I always get good writing accomplished on a plane. I am held captive in my seat which makes me prone to boredom and so I will do almost anything to exit this feeling. And writing is a great outlet for that, well for lots of things, but boredom really gets punctured because if I can’t be entertained by my own thoughts, fuck, we are in for some rocky times.
I am headed to the East Coast today to see old friends. My 35th high school reunion is this weekend and I am going. Yesterday as I was drying my hair it occurred to me that going to this reunion was a horrible idea. And I was kind of embarrassed that I hadn’t thought this thought before right then, the day before I left...
I haven’t see most of these people in 35 years. I mean it kind of begs the question: “If they haven’t reached out, and I haven’t reached out in 35 years, perhaps there is just nothing to say or do?”
And the truth, my truth anyway, isn't that I had nothing to say to them, I stayed away because I was embarrassed about who I used to be, and how I used to behave. I reviewed all of my past dysfunction and found it hard to return, so I didn't. As was the case pretty much every time in my life while drinking, I left because I didn't know how to not fuck it up, to fix that which I fucked up, or to stop fucking it up. So leaving always seemed like the best course of action. So that is what I did.
Now 35 years later, I have so much fear. I want to show up tonight, sans expectations, and just be present for whatever may happen. If it be delightful, then so be it. If it be painful, so be it. If it is a combination of both, well, ok then.
Today will be a hard mental line to walk because there is so much of me that wants to just not go. It would be easy. I have a million reasons to just stay in the city and not drive all the way out to Reston. But that would be me taking again. Me saying that I will do something, then backing out because I am afraid. And that is all I used to be. My ability to show up completely compromised by soul crushing fear. And when I did show up, it was usually to get something. A taker to the highest degree.
But I am not going because I want anything from them. I am going for three reasons:
1. To make amends for my past conduct. I don’t know if there will be actual formal amends, I am not in charge of timing, but I am willing to make them should the opportunity arrive.
2. Because I am terrified to go. So scared that I am not worthy and no one will even remember me or care that I am there. I mean I am looking forward to seeing all of them, and I do not feel that way about anyone (wishing they weren’t there) but I do believe and fear that they all just wish I would have stayed away for another 35 years.
3. By going, I get a bonus to see all my old DC sober peeps, and that is a worthwhile endeavor every single time. Getting to go “home” and be in the town that I grew up in intermittently, with the people who were instrumental in helping me grow up and take responsibility for myself, is never time wasted.
So there you have it. Amends. Fear Confrontation. Environmental connection. Those seem pretty solid.
I have to now also admit that there is this huge part of me that is going to now spend a great deal of mental energy avoiding feeling and even thinking about number 2. I am fine making amends, and I am happy to be on the East Coast and to see my more recent old friends. But 2, 2 is gonna kick my ass all weekend.
I had this same exact agenda when I went to my 10 year reunion...well, except number 3 because I actually lived in DC at the time. But I was so scared to go. So afraid that I would be outcast and alone. Standing against a wall, talking to no one, feeling dejected and unwanted. But that didn’t happen, everyone was lovely. I am not sure if I provided anyone else healing at the 10 year, but they did me, for sure.
I realized finally that it was never them. They all really did a great job of welcoming me and making me feel a part of...however, because of how and who I was at the time, I couldn’t be a part of anything that would actually have me as a member. So I picked it apart and pulled it asunder. Writing a script that made them not like me, when it was really me hating me so much that I just couldn’t encroach, or really participate. And 35 years later, I have learned (the hard way most of the time) that you cannot love or even like someone who is hellbent on hating themselves...
They welcomed me into that school our junior year. They included me. They called me friend. It was me for whom it was never good enough. It was me that could not accept their friendship. Me. Isolated by a fear that griped me and always left me feeling alone and outside whatever circle I was standing next to...
I went seeking things last time. This time I am just showing up to give. I have no agenda (other than that which I mentioned above) and I just want to show up and be open to whatever happens. If my worst fears come true (which so far in life has only happened like once) and no one talks to me and treats me with disdain, I can be ok with that because chances are, with who I used to be, I caused that reaction, even if it was 35 years ago. And that is ok. I can run the social gauntlet today, it is ok. I am fine as I am, even if no one else thinks so.
So I am flying towards that which I will do. That which I fear. And that which I love. This new version of myself that no one has met yet, not even me. And I am open to all the new experiences that I encounter. As free from the shared past as we all can be. Open to the new experience of what shall happen...
This prayer seems fitting:
God, today help me set aside everything I think I know about these people from my past, the new people I will meet, everything I think I know about myself, everything I think I know about others, and everything I think I know about my own experience so I may have an open mind and a new experience with all these things. Please help me see the truth in you, in me and them. May I come to serve in the same place that I used to take...
Here goes everything!