If you don't count one semester at the University of Tampa when I was 17 and two months in Monterrey when I was 21, I've lived in four cities in my life – two of them two separate times. I was in Philadelphia the first 23 years of my life, San Diego for the next nine, Philadelphia for five more, New York for seven and a half (two years in Manhattan, two in Astoria, one in Manhattan and two and a half in Brooklyn), back to San Diego for almost three and now in Los Angeles since January. If nothing else, I am good at moving. You'd have an easier time keeping track of someone in witness protection than of knowing my whereabouts from one year to the next.
When people go on about the number of Facebook friends I have, which isn't even a lot by Facebook standards, I point that nomadic journey out to them. When you consider the time lapse between the two times I lived in Philly and the two times I lived in San Diego, I essentially have lived in six different cities. Plus, most people in NYC will acknowledge that when you move from borough to borough (particularly when you move out of Manhattan) your circle of friends changes. Honestly, if you move from the Village to Hell's Kitchen you have to add more friends because of all the people who won't travel above 23rd St.
Then there is the whole being sober thing. If I had the inclination and the attention span, I could probably determine fairly accurately how many people on my list of friends are people I know from being in recovery. But I have neither of those things (if you read Sloth you already know that). So I'll just take a wild guess and say half. Probably 600 of those people I only know because I was once a crazy cracked-out mess (of course, they replace the 50 or so people I knew WHEN I was a crazy cracked-out mess that I don't know anymore). In other words, I have had the opportunity to collect a lot of friends and acquaintances over the last (let's not quantify that exactly) however many years.
What's my point? Well, it's that things can look one way from the outside, feel completely different on the inside and be radically different from both of those in reality. From the outside, it appears to people that I'm incredibly outgoing and can make friends with anyone. Regardless of how many friends are on a list, or how many people have been crammed into my apartments for Christmas parties and Chocolate parties, on the inside it feels like I'm completely and totally socially inept and that I'm completely unskilled in the friend-making department.
The reality, of course, is that I'm exactly as good (and not good) at making friends as 99.5 percent of the people on this planet. The number of people who like me is pretty big. A smaller number think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. A number that is smaller than that probably think I'm the devil (or at the very least a douchebag). I am pretty certain that this is the reality because it's the reality for most human beings. We all have friends. We all have people who think were nice people. We all have people who adore us and who hate us. It's the human condition.
The problem is that how it looks from the outside AND what it is like in reality are irrelevant to my malfunctioning brain. When I say my brain is malfunctioning, I'm not being self-deprecating or down on myself. I'm a recovered drug addict. The problem that caused that drug addiction centers in my thinking. Most of recovery from drug addiction is learning NOT to listen to my brain when it's telling me all the stupid shit it loves to tell me. I know full well it's lying to me. But sometimes it's such a fucking ordeal to fight with it. Sometimes it's just easier to say, “Fine. Everyone hates me. Good to know.” And not because I actually believe that, but because sometimes I don't want to have to take the actions that I'd have to take otherwise.
This is my fifth time being new in a city. I know the drill. All the people who live here have routines and hobbies and habits and friends. They are all doing their thing. Just like I'll be doing after I've been here for two years or so. I am well aware that if I want friends (real friends, not just people I say hi to at meetings and talk to at school or work) I have to step right into the middle of those routines and habits and say, “Hey let's do something.” Here's the thing though. It's my fifth time being new in a city. I just have been dreading having to do that again. It's kind of exhausting to tell you the truth. I have to be out of my comfort zone. I have to do stuff sometimes when all I feel like doing is nothing. I have to put myself out there and risk running into that small number of people that thinks I'm a douchebag. It feels like it's just easier to go to Disneyland alone and share it with 1200 friends on Facebook.
I want to be clear. This is not a post about no one liking me. I KNOW that's not true. I am 100 percent certain that I have friends here in LA and that if I made even a 20 percent bigger effort than I'm making my world would probably get bigger by a factor of ten. This post is about me being the problem. And about how just like a diabetic can struggle with eating right when he knows what the consequences of eating poorly are, I struggle with taking the actions that I know will improve my emotional and spiritual life.
I'm not going to enough meetings. I'm not calling anyone. When I do go to meetings I leave and go right home rather than going to eat and socialize after. Instead of calling the several people I know love Disneyland and inviting them, I throw a half-hearted invitation up on Facebook when I know that people don't respond to those. My sponsor in San Diego told me – more than once – that you can say you want something to be certain way and really believe it, but you have to look at the evidence to find out if you're telling the truth or full of shit. I say I want to make friends and be involved in stuff in Los Angeles, but that's not what the evidence suggests. The evidence clearly shows that I want to sit in my apartment eating blackberries, watching episodes of Charmed and waiting for my boyfriend to come back from Georgia every month. I hate the evidence. It has a way of turning a perfectly good pity party into a call to action.
I probably should not have written this blog post tonight, because I'm not completely sure I'm ready to do anything different and now it's just going to suck the fun out of watching Charmed all weekend.
*I cheated with tonight's post title. I've been doing one-word titles all month. I could have come up with a true one-word title for tonight's post, but nothing I came up with would have been as appropriate as SBS, because SBS stands for Sober Bitch Slap. A sober bitch slap is when an addict is being all whiny with his first-world problems and someone steps in and gives him a dose of reality. The good news is that I've been around long enough now that I know when and how to do it to myself. Let's just hope I listen.