I’ve been attending a new group therapy and it’s been amazing. It’s been painful, awkward, uncomfortable, revealing and difficult – you know: amazing!
I started my healing journey by sharing – by confessing. I confessed my addiction, my addiction-fueled crimes, my rape – my healing. And it worked. I found compassion and was given support from everyone I talked to.
And boy, did I talk! In my blog. On social media. At work. At parties. In group. At breakfast, lunch and dinner. In meetings – both therapeutic and business – you couldn’t shut me up.
But recently, I shared a little piece of my vulnerability with someone with no vested interest in me or my healing. His response was indifference and his attitude – in stark contrast to mine – ended up offending me. It was the start of a really rough day. So I talked about this to my new group, and my sponsor. And here’s what I’ve learnt:
There are three kinds of people I interact with:
1. The casual contact: “How you doing? Good? Not Good? Right…let’s get down to business.”
2. The close casual contact: “How you doing? Good? Not good? Yeah…me too. I know how you feel. Right…let’s get down to business.”
3. The close contact: “How you doing? Good? Not good? Before we get down to business, let’s just take a moment to connect, share, empathise and listen to each other.”
That is a very simplified way of looking at it, but it contains everything I need to know about what to share.
Where I am speaking to a colleague, or an acquaintance – unless they ask to be invited into the space where I share the story of my life and my recovery, I only risk damage to my vulnerability and insecurity if I simply open up and start sharing, without being asked to.
Close friends have my interests at heart, like I have theirs. It is a shared space of friendship, love and compassion; it is the right space to open up about me, my thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams – all those little personal intimate things that are mine.
Group meetings and invitations are other healthy spaces to share, as is my blog – because the people listening or reading have come out of their own interest and their own free will.
This has been quite a revelation to me. It’s taken a while to sink in – but this week, finally, it has. I found myself yesterday silently appraising people in the group I was talking to and applying a number to them, based on the three types I listed, above – and then measuring my discussion with them to fit the level of intimacy that we connected on. Amazing.
So, what does this mean? Well, probably less intimate Facebook updates, for one. And the people at work will probably find I am a little quieter – more reflective – than usual. I may come across as a little withdrawn, not quite the loud, life-of-the-party I was before…and that’s OK. To the ones who matter – the ones who fit into Type No. 3 – they will come forward, and firmly establish that common ground where friendship and compassion belong.
© Dave Luis 2014. All Rights Reserved.