I know I keep saying this, but this time – this time – will be different. I’ll do better at staying in touch. I will. I will.
But the tiny voice inside me, that voice that knows everything, says: You are defeated already. You know you won’t. You never do, even though you say you love – you do love – all those people you don’t stay in touch with, not even on facebook.
And I feel bad about that.
So, why don’t I stay in touch? Gooood question.
Answer #1: I guess I feel my life isn’t all that interesting? What do I want to tell people about? “I went to the pool today.” “I had an egg for breakfast.” “I feel strong.”
But do I not want to know how they are doing? I do! I do! So why wouldn’t they want to know how I am doing? Huh.
Answer #2: “I’m so busy.”
Answer #3: It takes so much effort to tell people what I’m up to. In order to do that, I need to sort things out in my mind, process my experience, open up, talk about myself. Huh.
“The unexamined life is a life not lived.”
And this: Open up, you say? When did I stop opening myself? When did I become the shoulder to cry on, who never cries on anybody else’s shoulder? When was the last time I had a girlfriend I talked to every day, confided in, trusted with my secrets? Ah. Before Jack. A very long time ago.
So what the hell happened?
Alcohol gradually formed a buffer between me and the world.
Burnout – literally got so busy, with work that overwhelmed me, with volunteer activities that consumed me, with family obligations –monthly trips to Toronto, trips now magnified by having two families to visit, complicated by the sheer distances between family members, happy but exhausting weekends of driving, driving, driving, punctuated by the good stuff — the love and laughter over meals and endless cups of tea (and, at the time, glasses of wine to wind up the day).
The internet: changed the way I relate to people. Fed into my natural reluctance to pick up the phone and call people. More emails. A buffer. Now I text just to check if it’s okay to call. Exacerbated by the need to call people for work, to which I also developed an aversion.
Telephone technology: I was bad enough at making/returning phone calls when we had landlines that worked perfectly all the time, every time, with reliable clarity and connectivity. Now we’ve traded quality for mobility, so that perfectly functioning landline has been replaced by unreliable, often crappy, VOIP phones and cell phones, the crazy-quilt complexity of routing calls through RingCentral, the spotty coverage of cell phones. (I’ve actually stopped using our magicJack phone altogether except for the odd local call because our internet coverage here in Florida is so spotty. Very frustrating!)
Emails: why don’t I write more? BECAUSE IT TAKES ME FOR-FUCKING-EVER (see answer #3 above)
I’ve become increasingly solipsistic in my old age, increasingly protective of my own space-time. Last year, it was my relentless focus on losing weight and gaining fitness, and on my spiritual path – the Buddhist training and the sobriety both.
So now what?
How do I get over this hump and start doing better at keeping in touch with the people I care about? I know it’s not just a matter of will, any more than losing weight or quitting drinking is just a matter of will. And I know it’s not just one-sided – it’s not like everyone is beating a path to my door and I’m ignoring them and not calling back. But, from my side, how do I support myself in making a change in how I open?
A special thank you and shout out to Nancy Sorenson, whom I met through mutual connections on Instagram, and who generously agreed to let me use her awesome photograph to illustrate this post. We’ve never met, and as far as I know only just heard of each other through this one contact, and yet. Nancy, you’re wonderful!