As was our habit, the Professor and I were headed out to a light dinner Saturday night. Sometimes the evening includes a meeting (sort of a Sober Safari -- we'll thumb through the Meeting Directory and randomly pick an AA meeting neither of us have been to. It's good to go outside our usual orbits), or a film or what-not. There had been some discussion of going to a mutual acquaintance's sober anniversary bash, but I voted for a low-energy evening, having just returned home after attending a sober convention many miles away.
On the flight back I caught up on some articles I'd bookmarked. The bounty of the internet -- aside from showing us all that somewhere, someone is into you (it's just that they're generally five thousand miles away) -- can make for an eclectic and lengthy reading list. Especially for a borderline ADHD like me.
It takes some discernment, too, to sort out maybe the more scholarly writing from the "some guy with a blog" essays (**coughglasshousescough**). I would say that one thing about having written Mr. SponsorPants for very close to seven years now (dear God!) -- even if some of my output has lapsed into "here's a thought for the day" observations rather than more considered posts (And does "considered" sometimes equal verbose? Oh, to be sure!) -- is that I have developed a keener ear for when someone may be writing just to fill column inches versus someone who has a real thesis to explore. (Even if that thesis is based on pop culture frippery. Life can be tough. A little frippery is a welcome relief.)
This particular article was an exploration of the "Outgoing Introvert" personality type. And it included a quiz! I love taking quizzes which are supposed to reveal some new insight about myself. (Helen? Is that you?)
If you Google "Outgoing Introvert" you will get something like 365,000 results. Many of which are articles in the "list" format -- another type I love! There are 8 Signs You May Be, 6 Reasons Why You Should Date, 8 Things You Should Know Before Dating (better flip the order on those last two...). 18 Challenges..., 20 Famous...
Some interesting observations and maybe lots of column inches being filled.
Having read the list and taken the Quiz (I got a high score! Fist pump! Woo!) I decided that I was, indeed, an Outgoing Introvert.
(Never underestimate the appeal of a new diagnosis to an old alcoholic. It's almost like getting a congratulatory telegram from the American Medical Association! "On behalf of the AMA, hearty congrats! Here is a Brand New Way you can consider yourself special and unique. Feel free to view this as a Previously Undiscovered Wound you can lovingly explore. Be sure to indulge in lots of self obsession disguised as new insight!").
The Professor picked me up and we negotiated our dinner destination. Flush with this new information about myself, I proceeded to answer his completely unasked question as to why I preferred a quiet dinner over a party:
Mr. SponsorPants: I read the most fascinating article on the plane. I think it revealed a new...
Professor: Oh God. Here we go.
Mr. SP: Hey!
PROF: Sorry. Sorry. Go on.
He said this with perhaps a slightly more theatrical sigh than was completely necessary, but I decided to take the higher road and ignore it. Plus, I was in self-obsession mode, and not to be distracted from sharing this new insight regarding my favorite topic: Me.
Mr. SP: So anyway, I realized, based on reading this article, that I am an Outgoing Introvert! That's why I didn't want to go to the party!
The Professor responded with what can only be described as a derisive snort.
PROF: Well that's nothing. We're all Outgoing Introverts! Go through any meeting and you can see that there's not a person there who isn't one to some degree.
I was stung. And crestfallen. And, like any child when you take their new toy away from them, a little peeved.
Mr. SP: Well you didn't have to snort at me.
PROF: I didn't snort.
Mr. SP: Yes you did! You dismissed me with a derisive snort.
PROF: Well I apologize if I was rude, but maybe some things deserve a derisive snort.
Mr. SP: Fair point. Maybe they do. But you are pretty free with your snorts.
Now he looked slightly peeved.
PROF: Maybe so.
A mildly frosty silence played out for several minutes.
I believe this sentiment wholeheartedly. I think Mr. Maslow is correct.
But at the same time there is a grandeur to this idea that feels almost too elevated for my life, day in and day out. Perhaps stronger people, more driven, more impassioned, more... something... can do this 'again and again' on their own.
I can't. Some days I need help.
The great lesson I've learned in AA is that it is foolish for me to try to do it all on my own. Sometimes I need a little inspiration, or example, or guidance or assistance.
Sometimes to choose again and again I need to ask God, as I understand God, for help, and then accept it in whatever form it is offered. As the old expression goes, "Sometimes God works through the people around me."
(Though sometimes that, too, is an 'again and again' I need help with. Sometimes I even need help accepting help.)
Of course, as I reread what I've written, and reconsider Dr. Maslow's quote, I realize that he didn't even suggest I had to do it all on my own. That's just how I heard it.
My alcoholic thinking conflates 'powerless' with 'helpless.' When it comes to dealing with my alcoholism I am powerless. I am without power. But I am not helpless. I am not without help.
In AA meetings this isolative mechanism -- this alcoholic thinking which unconsciously and reflexively clouds my vision and casts me as a man alone -- is often revealed to me through listening to other people speak and share.
I still need meetings because on my own I make things harder for myself without even realizing I'm doing it.
I was in school. Junior High, though some places I guess it's Middle School. Anyway, we were studying "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." And reading some of it in class aloud, which was pretty painful to hear, actually. Anyway, there's this part where Maggie is pleading with Brick not to take another drink. "Please, Brick, please don't have anymore." Well, Tennessee Williams probably put it better than that. But Brick keeps saying, "I have to. 'Cause I haven't felt the 'click' yet. I have to drink till I feel the 'click.'" And everyone in the class is talking about what that might mean. What Brick meant, or what Tennessee Williams meant by that. All these big Southern Gothic themes and metaphors and Brick vs. Big Daddy and fathers vs. sons and just these grand theories. But I had read about Tennessee and I knew he lived a drunken life and died choking on the cap to a plastic pill bottle. I knew he was a drunk, and I knew that the 'click' wasn't any grand southern gothic literary allusion. I knew it was what I drank to feel.
I drank to feel the click. Simple as that.
This striking abstract portrait is by South Korean painter Kwangho Shin.