Yesterday, I went to an Al- Anon meeting with my sponsor. It was a speaker meeting. The speaker had a thoroughly different story and background than me, yet I heard, over and over, my words, my phrases, my thoughts come out of her mouth. As ungracious as it sounds, I'm glad to hear someone I've never seen in my life, someone from a different world in a way, say those things I've thought. It was one of those "Fight Club" moments: "You are not a special snowflake. You are not thoroughly unique." Knowing that my sponsor and others I know had been through some similar stuff helped, but not in the way that hearing it from someone I've never met did.
She mentioned her faults, running down the alphabet. It was almost an echo of what I've chastised myself for.
What broke a chink in my armor of shyness and introversion was the kindness people showed me after the meeting. They sought me out to welcome me. They didn't seem to mind my cloak of near hostile shyness. They seemed to understand without my saying a word. I nearly cried when a woman I just met offered me a hug. It struck me as Right and yet alien. It flew in the face of what I knew. You Don't just open up that way to new people.
As my sponsor introduced me to people and kept saying how far I've come in such a short period, I kept trying to accept the compliment, trying not to brush it away. I'm still not sure I've succeeded there. It's hard to see how far I've come when I can see the miles I have yet to go. A wise woman once told me "there is a difference between humility and devaluing yourself. That difference is accepting the truth, even when it doesn't make much sense." I think I'm still trying to figure out how to not devalue myself and my emotions.
Knowing I'm not alone, knowing I'm not a special snowflake, knowing that there is a place of acceptance by people who've never met me... it's scary, in a way. But in the same way, it's releasing and cathartic.
At the end of the meeting, I felt wrung out and tired, but in a good way, a way I've felt very little.