On Isolation

“But that shit’s not the truth. The truth is, you are the Weak, and I am the Tyranny of Evil Men.”

I love this scene from Pulp Fiction, because Jules spends all of the previous line boasting, taking a position of moral superiority, and musing to himself. Then he catches himself and offers this cold, hard reality of the situation immediately, all in real time.

This scene plays out in my internal dialog more often than I care to admit, because I can ruminate like a motherfucker. All writers can, and if we’re not careful, we’ll wall ourselves up and cut ourselves off from the rest of the world in the process. Self-isolation is really shitty place to be. I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out how to live completely alone and isolated from the rest of humanity, but the more mature I become, the more I realize how ridiculous that is. Even monks live in community.

All of the meaningful aspects of life exist in relationship, which is something my Sponsor taught me years ago. His exact words were “relationships are the most difficult and meaningful part of life.” How grateful I am to that kind and gentle (but still has some fire make no mistake) old man. I’ve rarely required him in the role I originally sought him for, instead he has become a friend, and mentor who I trust; completely.

One fine example of my rumination (and ability to fantasize) finally found its Jules Winfield moment back in September. Completely my own fault, failure to read signals, and read far too much into other aspects, I found myself on the other side of the country, reading body language and finally assessing:

“Nope!” She definitely does not see me that way.”

I still had a blast out there, still would jump in front of a bus for that woman, and her family truly feels like an extension of my own. So when I came home it took a few days for me to let my heart be broken. Not that it made any logical sense, but emotions are what they are, and they are still valuable regardless. I’ve left a lot of broken hearts in my wake over the past two years, and I needed a swift kick in the chest to start acting like a compassionate human being again. I forgot what it felt like to be rejected, to read things so far out of focus, and to get my hopes up. All of them up.

Thankfully my friend and mentor is also my sponsor, and is able to read between the lines in an otherwise mundane “everything is great” kind of text message. He called immediately, even though I had passed my third year of sobriety the month before. As it happened one of his childhood friends had passed that morning, and so we had dinner that night, as two friends in need of each other’s company.

When shit hits the fan, or just gets really rough, I always try to fall back on that old habit of isolation. Then I do my best to remember that a major difference between the man I was five years ago and the one I am now, is the company I keep. Keeping that company has taken a lot of work, the kind that has required me to step up and be a better human being.

More often that not, we cannot self-diagnose a situation accurately in real time. We need that barely perceptible nod, or muscle movement in our friend’s face to tell us plainly and indefatigably:

“But that shit’s not the truth.”

Be kind to yourselves.

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