I really love the Fall weather. No matter where I have lived it has been my favorite season. I’m not sure why it is: the chill in the air in the morning, the leaves changing color, the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque, it just is. I dislike October. Not al of October, just anything to do with Halloween. It really makes no sense to me why I dislike Halloween. I just do. In high school, I was in drama. I even lettered, twice. The character thing never bothered me. But there is something about being in a group of people pretending to be something they are not that gets to me. Its like being in a locker room. Everyone scared to death they aren’t as manly as they should be. As a kid, I did see IT and it terrified me so bad, I haven’t watched much in the way of horror since then. I saw Jaws and was afraid to swim in a pool after dark for a few weeks. Perhaps I am “on the spectrum” (by definition a spectrum includes everyone, so we are all on the spectrum. This is a really poor way to describe this problem, but I digress). I need to see faces and try and understand the real person I talk to. I just know I don’t like to be distant or afraid.
All that to say, I am afraid and feel distant. Its different than Nixon masks and being faked out. I am afraid of taking an inevitable next step. I have been in addiction medicine for the last few years. I am much better at it than I thought I would be. The first week they gave me the nickname of, “Dr. Buzzkill.” I talk to people and cajole them to honesty with themselves and maybe with me. I insist on working on introspection. I insist on motivation from the inside. I can be a real ass, I know. However, in my heart, I believe in recovery and that recovery is for those that want it. I get teased a lot that I am too harsh sometimes. One of my close friends reminds me that precontemplation is a stage. I remind him that if someone doesn’t want what recover has to offer, if I force it by keeping them there, I might ruin the next opportunity they have to change their mind.
Again, I digress. I’ve been suggested strongly, that it is time to start my own business again and not be an employee. ITs been a long time coming. The time I spend with people and the work I do isn’t necessarily as billable. There have been changes that will further limit what the hospital could bill for my services. I was given the option of eventually being unemployed or currently being unemployed with some preservation of what I do. I will open Buzzkill, LLC in October.
OK that was the longest preamble I have ever written. I am afraid and isolated. That is the whole point to this post. Let us continue. I am isolated. Its not good enough isolation that anyone would make a movie out of it. I don’t own a volleyball to talk to. My puppy is to hyper to really listen. He doesn’t seem to care anyway. I grew up being isolated. We had this pencil machine at my elementary school. It had the names and colors of every football team on pencils. So boys would save their ten cents, scrounge couches and washing machines to buy pencils, with the hopes of having them all. They’d proudly display their knob turning acumen joined together with a rubber band. They traded and discussed which teams were better and which pencils the most difficult to hunt down. My pencil was yellow and chewed. I still don’t care about sports. I never felt quite right around groups. I truly didn’t fit in. I thought I fit in AA when I started. I did in that first group. And then several people told me that I shouldn’t be at a group, but should go to the medical group. IT took me a minute to realize they were focused on their pencils.
I am afraid. I have spent a lifetime without identity. CS Lewis describes Men without chests. I was that boy. No heart, no life force, no soul. I didn’t have self esteem, I had reflective esteem. I only knew who I was by what you told me. I needed to perform to convince you I was worth it, so you could tell me I was. Id like to say the pencil debacle taught me it was ok to be myself. I lied, I had ten team pencils. I told everyone we couldn’t afford even the dime so I could get more. The chiefs were my favorite because the colors were the coolest. I hid. Drama was an obvious choice for me. I could try on different personalities. The costumes came off, and the support was for the empty costume not for me. The fear worsened as I grew. It was harder and harder to convince people to cheer me on. So, I drank. A lot. I traded me for the illusion of a chest, a heart, a life, a soul. It wasn’t mine, it wasn’t real, but it had great colors. Unfortunately, the fear got worse. What if people didn’t believe I couldn’t afford the dime? What if they saw through the façade? IT rode me around like a dark passenger. The same alcohol I had sold out to, whispered in my ear about how diminutive I was. It taunted me. It screamed in my face like the gym coaches of old. It scared me like only rage in a mask can do. I vanished as the rage screamed and my ex grew weary of having to connect with me. The fear won. I thought it was the alcohol, but even after that was gone, the fear loomed and whispered on. It defeated me at the age of 44. I ceased to exist. I couldn’t fake it anymore.
Fear leaves a dead body. As I rose from the chestless, heartless existence I once thought of as life, I began to see me. I met me and I was ok. I understood me. I generally liked me. When I would stray from being me and reach for a mask, I could see why I feared the unreal. I could be honest. I enjoyed, but didn’t need the support that was my backbone before. I walked. I returned to medicine, doing addiction. I didn’t have to perform in a certain way. I just had to be who I am . I didn’t have any idea how to do this job, nor did anyone else. I was making it up as I went, And it went well. I didn’t notice until right now that I had started to slide into the idea of becoming Buzzkill to please everyone. I am very straight forward and I care about people in addiction who are suffering. But, I had begun to transform to what people said about me. The reason for my fear is that I will only have me to trust on what is my identity. I fear because I am unsure. I have let myself become Dr. Buzzkill as a costume. I wear it proudly, all the time knowing that people don’t really know me. In many circumstances, have no desire to know the real me. But I am named. Not from others, not even from me, but from God, the higher power, cosmos, Universe, whatever. I had forgotten that me is not defined by what I do. If this practice works, fantastic. I do this job well. If it doesn’t, ok I don’t have this color pencil in my pile, move on. I will still be me.