“If your marble jar is empty, you don’t have it to give away.” “Do you have marble jar friends ?” “What is a marble jar friend ?”
Trust – is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.
This mirrors A Vision for You, when it says: “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I have a marble jar. I’ve been working to fill it, over these very trying months of my life.
And I have spent time listening to Brene Brown, Timber Hawkeye and others talk about The Anatomy Trust, Vulnerability, Shame, Guilt, Peace, Letting Go, and the Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and finally, The Fuck It List…
When my emotional roller coaster left the station, I observed something that shook me to my sober core. My friends, fellows, sponsors, allies, did not want to hear my pain. They did not want to listen to me, honestly and compassionately, and without judgment.
As the months wore on, the people who did not want to listen to me, became afraid of me, and some, even asked me to go from meetings because of their fear factor.
Men and Women who were double-digit sober, MUCH more double digit sober than I am right now, thought out loud that “Oh, you want us to treat you special, unlike everyone else in the room!” No … I just want to be treated as a human being in difficulty.
I have friends, well, they’re not friends any more, who just cannot sit with me and listen to me talk when I need to talk. If only to hear words come out of my mouth, that seem important to me in the moment.
Yesterday I was sitting with a friend, well, I thought she was a friend. We were talking about HER. There is a situation on the table, she wants to invest in. And she wanted me to walk her through this process, because I have personal experience, in this area.
I have friends, well, fellows, who will invest every dollar of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves with people far away, or on people who have a very low R.O.I. (Return on Investment).
I’ve been floundering here in my own stew of emotional and mental soup for months, and every time I want to talk to and/or in front of these people, they tell me to SHUT UP.
I’ve learned that I have a choice in the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY …
I don’t have to engage in every problem in a room. And I don’t have to invest in something that is wasteful and/or a waste of time.
I’ve done this over and over again.
Timber says that WE need to be LIGHT.
Light as in a LIGHTHOUSE.
A lighthouse is static. Stands in one place, and shines its light for ships to see to navigate away from rocks and danger.
For years and years, I thought I needed to shine my light in people’s faces, as if to say …
“Here is the light, do you see it, I am the light …”
NO, WRONG …
I just have to sit still and be present, and keep my mouth shut until it is necessary to speak.
One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar.
It is apparent to me now, many months later, that as long as I am serving other people, talking about what THEY want to talk about, and helping THEM, as long as the conversation is serving THEM, everything is kosher.
As soon as there is a break in the stream of consciousness, and I turn from helping THEM into hoping they will listen to ME, to help ME, that’s when they tell me to SHUT UP.
Does that seem right to you ? Because it doesn’t seem right to me.
Timber tells us to make a list of our CORE VALUES. Write them down. All those things that we want to be, the men and women we want to become.
When you finish writing, take that list and compare it to WHO you ARE right now.
Right away, we begin to see just how much work we have to do with US, to become the people we want to be.
I have that same list for my friends. People are people and I have to let them be who they are, without expectations, judgments or conditions.
We have to allow people to be who they are warts and all.
But in these times of troubles and strife, I need my friends to help me. I bowed down and asked for help. I’ve asked people to help me, to rise up and do for me when I could not do for myself.
Barely a handful of those people did RISE UP and helped ME.
I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be the voice of reason and sobriety. Not everyone wants to listen to me give them unsolicited advice, because someone, or a friend is in difficulty. I gotta let them work it out. And not get involved in their spiritual journey.
That is one of the Great Sins …
One, to get in the way of YOUR spiritual journey, and TWO, getting in the way of someone Else’s spiritual journey.
I’m tired of my friends, telling me to just SHUT UP.
Essay – Vulnerability
It is Tuesday, a day off. I watched a You Tube Video about Candice Neistat, with Bryan Elliott, which lead to a TED talk with Brene Brown, about vulnerability.
Bryan shared a quote from Brene that said:
“The depth that we are willing to be vulnerable is the measure of our courage.”
When He heard that quote, it floored him. When I heard the quote from him, I had to go to the source to understand its context.
I’ve been working to understand what the entire last year has been about, and why things panned out the way they did, and I think it comes down to being totally vulnerable, honestly and authentically.
Over my life, there have been times when I have been brutally honest, and totally vulnerable. Take for instance, finding out I was sick and was going to die.
Utter devastation makes one vulnerable, because we have lost control, we are not in control, and we end up, out of control, in many ways.
In a sense, I was too vulnerable for my own good, because in that vulnerability to be honest and authentic, scared everyone away. I was in the mix, and my friends and family could not handle the honest, gut wrenching truth.
The person that I was truly vulnerable with, was Todd. He was humble and a force to be reckoned with, when it came to my dignity and my life. Over those years, I shed a great many tears in front of him, with him, and because of him. That is something that I can say, changed my life.
A little while later, I stood up, in front of a room full of alcoholics like me and was vulnerable, once again. I alienated them, and they asked me to go away. So much for wearing my death on my sleeve.
Imagine having your heart crushed by someone when you are sharing the deepest darkest fears of your soul. In the attempt to recover from numbing your emotions for so long.
Brene says that you cannot selectively numb certain emotions, and not affect the others along with them.
In sobriety, I have been vulnerable to a certain degree. And it has taken almost all of my sobriety, to finally tap that well of vulnerability, like I have tapped over the past year.
I may not have tapped it, but it certainly tapped me.
People who are authentic:
- Have the courage to be Imperfect
- They are Compassionate to themselves first, then to others
- They believe connection is the result of Authenticity
- And they Believe that they are Worthy
- That fully embracing their Vulnerability makes them Beautiful
- And that Relationships are Fundamental parts of existence for us all
- Connection is why we are here on earth. To Connect and not be Alone
Brene goes on to say that Vulnerability is at the core of:
- And the Struggle for Worthiness
- Which is the Birthplace of Joy, Creativity, Belonging and Love
I can see, in hindsight, where I shut down that part of myself. Not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. You might think that I was stoic, on certain occasions, but I don’t think it was stoicism, but maybe fear, numbness and an inability to articulate what was going on in my head.
I’ve spoken about those points in life where I was totally vulnerable and sunk in a pit of despair. I can name them, because the list is very short.
- The day I identified James’s body at the morgue after his suicide
- The night I told Todd that I was going to die
- The day I said goodbye to Todd
- And the emotional response I had to the Orlando Massacre
The last episode was the worst, in many, many years. I had not cried, as I did, since James’s death, the many nights I cried on Todd’s shoulder, struggling with death and his insistence on my survival. Many tears were shed during those two years of intensive work on myself, at Todd’s direction.
That Tuesday night, at the meeting, when I fell apart, it was a cathartic response, to the story that we were reading from the back of the Big Book, the emotional state I was in, because of the massacre, and the fact that only one human being thought to call to see if I was ok.
Then the reaction of my sponsor who humiliated me and accused me of expecting to be treated differently than the others in the room, when all I wanted was a little compassion, that my fellows and my sponsor could not accommodate.
Instead of understanding and compassion, for my vulnerability, I was humiliated and shut down, by people who were incapable of understanding.
I had friends, who were long sober. Whom I thought loved me. They cared for me and supported me, and did charitable acts for me, inside of an organization that I belong to, that I have not set foot in since many months ago.
I ran my steps with a woman I trusted. I told her my deepest and darkest secrets, and she knew my story, and had been involved with my sobriety for a very long time. When I got through my steps she said to me that I was angry and that she and the other women were afraid of me and that I should, in essence, go away …
I raised my voice at a business meeting, then ensued a mass running for the hills by my friends, fellows and sponsees. I had a rough night, and got punished for it with silence and judgment by people I spent an inordinate amount of time with. And when it came time to speak to that truth, I did so. Which probably alienated them all the way gone.
So much for being vulnerable.
I have some fatal flaws that always get in the way of my relationships with others.
- I have an idealistic belief that every human being has ONE redeemable quality, that lends to forgiveness and love.
- I believe in people, from the get go.
- I trust people, from the get go, which stems from the rooms and my belief that most people are good.
- I am also judgmental of some. I can spot bullshit and arrogant men, and people who would do me harm, at 50 paces
- Living with AIDS gives me certain perspective on people, a talent I learned to save my own peril from those who would do harm to me.
This is what I have been feeling and experiencing over the past year. And now I understand it as well.
The price I paid for vulnerability was the loss of many people in my life, who either could not stand my depth of honesty or their understanding and commitment to compassion and love.
Such is life in the world of the alcoholic.
I also know today, that resentment and anger, pointed towards people,is sometimes pointless and wastes valuable energy towards others, when I should be pointing that energy towards myself. And that I need to be a bit more compassionate, understanding and forgiving, and also have a sense of pity for certain people in my life.
It is not always my fault for the reaction or beliefs of certain people in my life. I did not create them, and I am not responsible for their reactions to me, and/or towards me.
Not everyone we know, Not every one we meet, and Not everyone we spend time with are meant to be in our lives forever. In each interaction, there is a lesson to be learned about them and about ourselves.
This has been a year of learning about myself and others, in regards to the way others react to what is going on in my life, in the sense of honesty, integrity, vulnerability and authenticity.
It is true that, for the most part I am totally honest in some ways, but reserved in other ways. I don’t necessarily share my opinions, but when I do, they certainly cause people to look at me with second glances.
Hence, the loss of so many friends and fellows over the past year.
I get a sense that vulnerability comes in waves, as I am able to deal with them. And it seemed to me that they came fast and furiously for a while. It was BANG, BANG, BANG, one after the other.
That dam, failed. And vulnerability came.
I had no way to stop it once it began.
Not sure if I am done with it, but it makes sense now.
We shall see …