Yesterday, I started working on Chapter 2 of the book, so I didn’t make time for a post. As it turns out, the work that I did felt like it will likely be Chapter 3. It’s all good!
Where have I heard that phrase, “It’s all good,” lately? It was texted to me this morning by an old college friend, Gary. It requires a bit of an explanation.
Gary and his wife, Nina, live in Asheville, NC. They were among the first people from this area who reached out to me on Facebook to say, “let’s hang out while you’re in town,” which I immediately agreed was a good idea. Nina and I used FB Messenger many times while I was still in New York and I said I’d reach out when I got to town. I haven’t seen either of them in over thirty years. Gary was a fraternity brother of mine and we were roommates during my Junior year at F&M.
Despite my early enthusiasm about a reunion, I haven’t been responsive to Gary’s phone calls or Nina’s texts since we’ve been in town. I think it’s fair to say that I blew them off and subsequently felt ashamed for doing so. And when I mess up – I typically delay more and feel progressively more shame. Ugh.
Yesterday, though, I screwed up my courage and texted Gary, again. We now have plans in place for the four of us to go to the White Horse in Black Mountain, NC for an evening of fun on Tuesday, our last night in town.
At the end of our texting conversation, I apologized again for not being a better communicator. That’s when Gary replied, “It’s all good.”
When my behavior gets wonky, it’s usually because I fear something. In this case, I believe that it was a fear of hanging out with a fraternity brother, a guy I used to drink with in college. And I didn’t just drink in college. I majored in it.
As many may know, I gave up alcohol in December of 2020. Well before that, though, I’ve consistently passed up opportunities to hang out with my fraternity brothers. I said “no” to many college reunions and never attended any get-togethers over the years at ball games or other events. It was always because I feared a return to my old, party-animal self.
I haven’t done much work on that – until now – on this Adventure!
Like a lot of sons, I inherited some good and some bad traits from my dad. This includes a tendency to disappear when I feel really, really scared.
My dad moved to California and then settled in Texas after he left our family. His shame was very pronounced and it had its roots not only in my parent’s divorce but in his youth and adulthood whenever he felt emotions he didn’t understand. Like many men, he went into “his cave” and, eventually, never returned. Sorry to say, my dad’s recovery was incomplete, so the legacy I inherited includes the necessity to finish “the work”.
So, when I missed the first couple of calls with Gary, it went from fear to shame. I wasn’t aware of the drinking connection, yet, but my behavior indicates that I used isolation, like my dad, to protect myself from emotions I didn’t understand.
The Adventure, then, includes a new part of my Recovery. And Recovery in my case is “recovering” the person I was before my dad’s behavior imprinted itself on me. It’s a terrific amount of work. And it typically involves making mistakes that can bring up shame. It’s a bundle passed down from many generations.
The most recent “work” began at a men’s meeting I attended last week. I participated in a psychodrama about men in my life, like my dad and others who have triggered fear, anger, and sadness in me – men who have betrayed me in some form. It was facilitated by another friend, Giles, who lives in Asheville (not a drinking buddy).
With the help of Giles and the men present, I was able to see that I needed to feel these feelings AND take action to be a better man – to recover the power I give away when I feel scared. This is how we stop passing on our family legacy.
That’s why I went to another Open Mic after the men’s meeting. I need to practice working to be present, to use my powers. And it’s why I found the courage to look at this issue, make amends and call Gary.
As it turns out, Gary was right. It’s all good.