Staying power is not my strong suit these days.
Nor is small talk, dancing, drinking or tuxedos. I’m in bed by 7 most nights and already a couple hours tucked two sheets in while others are still out getting their three sheets on.
Parties were once calendared in pen at least twice weekly until one day many years back when I made the brutal self-discovery that I’m not the man I used to be. And fortunately so.
I was the life of the party and also its casualty. I thrived on attention and made myself the center of it often when I wasn’t. Insecurities compensate for ego in sometimes unimaginable ways.
I tried way too hard to be liked mostly because I didn’t like myself. Wearing lampshades would send me home in the wee hours with the false sense I was a treasured friend to many when in reality I was likely just a poorly behaved nuisance, tolerated and even more likely pitied.
Then one day several years ago very early in my 12 step program, another addict shared his own similar embarrassing epiphany and his story stopped me cold, as addict’s stories often do.
I had a very long and very deep cry over my countless embarrassing recollections of parties past and finally began liking myself. Sitting on the sidelines gradually became as satisfying as all my years in centerfield had seemed to be. Private conversations with a few in attendance became genuinely more preferable than grabbing microphones and lampshades to prove some personal point to myself that I was cool.
Growing up took much longer in life than I ever expected, but like so many times before, it took an honest addict at a meeting to be the messenger I didn’t know I desperately needed.
Tonight I’m dressing up and going to a Christmas party. I may dance, I’ll probably chat with a few people and I’ll be quite comfortable in my own skin. And no one there will ever know what it took me to get to this point except that guy who saw me crying after his story at a recovery meeting years ago whose name I don’t remember but whose words I’ll never forget.