It was time for a change.

These days, staying power is not my strong suit, especially at parties.

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 compensated for ego in sometimes unimaginable ways.
I tried way too hard to be liked by others mostly because I didn’t like myself. Wearing lampshades would send me home in the wee hours with a false sense I was a treasured friend to many, when in reality I was likely just a poorly behaved but tolerated nuisance, and even more likely just pitied.
But 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 countless embarrassing recollections of myself at parties past.
Eventually, I finally began liking myself.
Sitting on the sidelines gradually became as just as satisfying as all my years in centerfield had tried so foolishly to be.
Private conversations with a few in attendance became 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 still don’t drink but 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.