Growing up with an alcoholic mother, we had an isolated life. Mom made it that way to accommodate her drinking. I spent a lot of time alone – reading and writing. I loved writing because it enabled me to create stories and characters I could control. There was beautiful predictability and stability that didn’t exist in my real life.
Most of my classmates were into other things – video games, sports and even back then, I remember feeling weird. Different. Not normal. So, I never spoke about how much I loved writing and reading…and being alone. I was embarrassed to share that.
In high school, I stopped writing and reading – the two activities that gave me so much joy. Instead, I tried hard to be normal. Elusive normal! I spent my time doing normal teenager stuff. This continued into college and as a young adult. I was too busy balancing everything, including practically raising my little sister after Mom’s alcoholism dramatically worsened. But I felt extreme pressure to do common grownup stuff in the little bit of free time that I had.
I remember being about 25 and my friend kept inviting me to get togethers with her friends. You need to be more social, she’d say. Bless her heart for being such a great friend. And so, I would go and sit around a bonfire for hours while her friends got drunk or I’d sit in a bowling alley making conversation about the traffic or that yes, I really ought to try that new restaurant in town. But all the while, I’d think, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??!!” I’d go home and then think about what a weirdo I am. I should want to relax with fellow human beings. This is what grownups do. I’m going to end up an old hermit cat lady.
When I was 26, at my rock bottom, I started writing again. I joined local writers’ groups, went to writing workshops and joined organizations. Around this time, I also got active in learning about alcoholism. I went to Al-Anon meetings. I met so many inspiring and amazing people. I was SOCIAL! They inspired me, they encouraged me, they made me feel more normal. People in my family and at work would ask about weekend plans, I’d feel embarrassed to admit that I was attending a writer’s workshop, doing volunteer work or doing some other uncommon activity. They always seemed slightly concerned that I wasn’t doing what they considered normal R & R. I always felt they wanted me to say I planned to sit around on a boat with people or lounge by a bonfire for half the weekend. 34 years of feeling so weird!!!!
Recently, something happened to change my perspective. A TRUE ACoA journey milestone. My friend invited me to a day at her lake house. They had a house full of friends and I really need to get out and about. I abandoned my plans for that Saturday and I drove an hour to her cottage and arrived in the backyard and introduced myself to everyone and learned the rules of their lawn game and made conversation for 45 minutes and then heard this in my mind: I’d rather be writing or reading or hiking.
So, I told my friend: I must go. I’m sorry.
I have different interests and am free to spend my time how I want it.
HOW FLIPPING FREEING THIS IS!
I want to spend my time around people who inspire me, who want to do more and who are called to do great things. All the times I’ve given time to what I want to do, I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone and attended events and joined groups in which I met amazing people.
I’ve spent all these years feeling weird and anti-social when it’s simply that I’m not around the people I want to be social with and I been forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do.
I’M DONE FEELING GUILTY FOR LIVING HOW I WANT TO LIVE.
I don’t have to sit at the lake house and I don’t have to take a pottery class and I don’t have to worry about my ovaries aging – I don’t want to have my own babies anyway!
Today, I wrote all day. By myself. I didn’t feel guilty about it.
I hope you trust yourself and your intuition about how to spend your time and live your life.