Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.
I think that’s pretty human of me, but, who knows. These days normal is a pretty foreign concept. In fact, normalcy, it seems to me, may, in fact, be a concept alone. There isn’t one right way to go about things. And, sometimes, it feels like there isn’t a right way at all. Which brings me to tonight’s dilemma. What do you say when there’s nothing to say? How do you communicate?
I found myself in a sticky spot with Lars. A new predicament in my relationship, my sobriety, and in my own self-awareness. That’s to say, I’m difficult. And, I know this. I’ve always known this. But, in the past, I chose not to make a big deal about it or pay it any attention really. If I felt like being stubborn, I would be. If I didn’t want to see or do it your way, I wouldn’t. Easy. Simple.
Sobriety has meant being hyper aware of where I’m wrong. It’s part of being rigorously honest. If you can’t see where you’ve been wrong, you’re lying to yourself, plain and simple. It’s been one of the major rewards of sobriety and working the steps in AA. Frankly, it’s one of those concepts that makes me want to tell every person on Earth, alcoholic or not, to work the 12 Steps. It’s a design for better living, not just getting sober. And, part of living a better life, is being honest with yourself. Knowing that every time you have some kind of negative altercation, disagreement, resentment, or are upset, you have some role in the situation. You can’t just blame other people for your woes. I mean, you can, but, at the end of the day, part of the problem is in you.
I was frustrated when I got to Lars’ apartment. Not with him, but, with something. I’d watched an upsetting documentary, I had spent all day applying for jobs, and I was just antsy. We had planned to go out to a movie, but, Lars was no longer in the mood. And, since I was already in a mood, I let his change of heart be the catalyst for my gloom. But, Lars really had nothing to do with it. I didn’t know why I was such a curmudgeon, only that I was one.
My mood turned Lars’ mood for the worse, and so the cycle began. We snappily conversed over cigarettes, arguing about the merits of being a vegan. Which, right there, shows you the kind of mood I was in tonight. If you knew me at all, you’d know that something is wrong if I’m fighting with you in favor of veganism.
Eventually Lars had had enough, and rightly so. He called me out on my bullshit. And before leaving me to smoke my last cigarette alone before bed, he turned to me and said, ‘It’s just hard with you sometimes. I love you. It’s just hard.’ And, as I sat there dragging on my cigarette, I couldn’t disagree. I was being difficult. I knew I was, that was my part here. He had a right to be frustrated. But, I didn’t have an answer or an explanation for him, or for myself. All I know, is that the old me would have had a snappy response. A passive-aggressive deflection. I was great at that, taking the spotlight of myself and making it your problem. But, in sobriety, I know better. I know that taking responsibility for your poor behavior is an important factor in being a upstanding individual. So, rather than turning it back on Lars, I sat in silence.
We didn’t say a word the rest of the evening. We just watched a movie in bed, in silence. And, it was awkward and uncomfortable. But, sometimes that’s how it has to be if you’re going to be honest. He had to tell me that I’m hard, I’m difficult. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for him to say. And, I, I had to bite my tongue and not quip back, because he’s right, I am difficult. But, tonight, I don’t have excuses or deflections. Well, of course I have them, but I know better than to use them. Tonight, it’s better to be silent in honesty.
Communication is hard. Sober or not. And, if you’re not honest with yourself and the person you’re with, communication is worthless. A soliloquy of finely tuned words, apologies, and excuses is a waste of air. It took me a long, long time to realize that. And, even in realizing it, it doesn’t make the silence that is sometimes required any easier.
Honesty. It will take you far, but, it will fascinate you with it’s innate difficulty.