I consider myself an environmental introvert/extrovert. It wasn’t always this way, I used to be an all out introvert! (There’s a contradiction in terms for ya.) It even made my friends and family mad at me anytime we were around a group and I wanted to cling to them and steal some of their attention back towards me. The way I learned to deal with this is by drinking. I called alcohol my liquid un-inhibitor and it worked really well for a couple years…until it didn’t. Then I drank more to try to get the same “fun and carefree” girl back, but it just made things worse. It soon loosed my tongue and not just my hair, so that all of the fears I was trying so hard to hush, came out in words and actions. You think that’s bad? It got worse.
Eventually, during my last 2-3 years of drinking, I had reached a point in which I had lost ALL control. I was no where to be found. (Literally and figuratively.) My words, actions, even the very way that I looked no longer resembled anything that I used to be. My thought process no longer functioned properly, my body no longer functioned unless it was fed with a steady supply of booze and my relationships no longer properly functioned without them just simply letting me have my way in order to keep the demon at bay.
After I finally sought treatment and became a “reborn” person, I began to relearn how to do things. One of those things was learning how to talk to people without alcohol in me. Sounds silly but I literally thought I couldn’t say anything interesting without being at least a little tipsy. I now HAD to learn how to be social with anyone and everyone with nothing but myself to drive me. AA meetings were a huge help in getting started. If you can sit in a room full of strangers and get deep and personal, I’m pretty sure you can strike up small talk with the cashier or the boss’s wife at the next gathering.
That’s not to say that I’m a chatter bug now. I still keep so much more inside than I let out at times. I am more comfortable in certain situations and environments than others, but I’m finally ok with (and look forward to) getting to meet someone new and hopefully striking up a conversation. Those are things that I believe even extroverts would agree with. My husband for instance is very much an extrovert, however, stick him in an art gallery with other artists and he’ll probably feel very lost. He would still try to have a conversation with someone, even if it’s not a very interesting one with completely different interests at hand.
I still enjoy my quiet time. When you have 5 kids, all under the age of 8, running around your house and wearing out your name like an 8 year old pair of underwear, come and tell me whether or not you crave quiet time. The difference now, is in the past, when I would get free time to myself away from work or from family, I preferred to go out on my own. To be out in the middle of nowhere, where there is little chance of being around someone who may dare want to speak with me. Now, when I get a chance to get away from the kids for some “fun time,” I’m always looking for friends that can join me, or to be around as many people as I can find and I strike up conversations with perfect strangers. I, Jess, actually turn to people now, without provocation and without a lead in, and I strike up conversations!!! Standing in line at check out. Pumping gas at the station. Walking through the park or sitting at the playground. I’m always bugging people now! I can’t help but giggle to myself afterwards, because not 4 four years ago I would have been terrified at the thought.
So, where did this change come from? How did I so suddenly get the courage to be more outward after 32 years of being inward? My relationship with my Higher Power. That’s where it started. As rehab and AA helped me to understand, I HAD to 1. Admit that I was powerless- that my life had become unmanageable. 2. Come to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. and 3. I had to make the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him.
At first I had an easier time simply calling Him my “Higher Power” because his actual name had so much of my past attached to it. It felt unloving, judgmental, confusing and mischievous. Not a name that I wanted to place my hopes in, even though my “Higher Power” was, by personal description, everything that God was. So I slowly built my relationship with God and He became the source of my strength and courage. I turned to Him in trying times and I sent out praises of gratitude daily. Even if the only thing I could feel sincerely about on my rough days was gratitude for another day of life.
After a couple years of sobriety and changing, I noticed I had become complacent and wasn’t walking as closely with God as I was in the first year of my new life. I still had negative connotations attached to God and I still felt the weight of false beliefs weighing me down. I was blessed with still having my husband and children after everything I put them through. To still have a few of my close friendships intact and relatives who still loved and cared for me. However, this baggage was still causing problems in my relationships. I was still depending on human relationships to fulfill me. I was still feeling unimportant and unwanted so I was still getting angry when I wasn’t forming the connections I still so desperately craved for. Life was still all about me.
That’s when I made friends with Jesus. He has been the most important friend in my life! He has taught me how GOOD God actually is and how I am loved and desired just as I am. He is teaching me more and more how to take the focus off of myself. He is showing me how to send the credit to where it is due and how to find joy and company in him and in our Father. The closer I walk with him the more I feel God’s presence in my life and the louder I hear his answers when I pray. It has actually become very much like having a conversation with a trusted friend at times. The ONLY thing that I wish I could get out of our relationship is the warmth and strength of His arms around me when I need a loving hug and human contact or when I need a comforting hand when I cry.
When all other relationships fail my needs or desires, when I feel misunderstood and when I don’t feel like I matter, I remember one thing and am SO thankful in this:
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
I no longer need nor want alcohol. I don’t crave it anymore. I am forming healthy relationships and am always open to making new ones. I have an incredible amount of strength that is renewed whenever I seek Him and cover myself in his love for me. I am being turned inside out (extroverted) and seeking him in my every day life, whether be in people I come across, situations I encounter, relationships I want to build or just in the day to day details. I don’t need alcohol or a person to help hold me together or to give me value because He gives it all! As for when I’m craving closeness from a tangible, loving embrace…I purchased a weighted blanket and I just wrap myself in it and imagine it’s His powerful, loving arms! I haven’t slept so good in YEARS! (only downside is now I have a very hard time wanting to wake up and get the kids to school)
Turn your life over to God, with the help of Jesus, and you won’t regret it! The change won’t be instant. You won’t be cured in a day. You have a lifetime of lies and beliefs that need to be dispelled and weeded through, then it takes trial and error as you grow and the Spirit grows in you. However, if you turn your life over to his care, he will be better than any cocktail, ice cream sunday, joint, hit, poker game, job, sex or whatever your choice of “drug” may be. God is good and everything that falls into that definition! Thank you Castle Craig and AA for introducing me to God again, and thank you New Life Baptist for introducing me to Christ again!
Above all….Thank you God for creating me and Jesus for loving me unconditionally!Tags: 12 Steps, AA, Castle Craig, courage, Extrovert, faith, God, Introvert, Jesus, Relationships, strength, Unconditional love
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