Things I do to Honor and Evade a Crippling Introversion

“People empty me. I have to get away to refill.  I´m what´s best for me, sitting here slouched, smoking a beedie and watching this screen flash the words. Seldom do you meet a rare or interesting person.  It´s more than galling, it´s a fucking constant shock. It´s making a god-damned grouch out of me.  Anybody can be a god-damned grouch and most are.  Help” – Charles Bukowski from The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am prone to what essentially comes down to crippling introversion.  If Carl Jung stuck his finger in my butthole, he’d say I’m an INTP.  The “I” stands for Introverted.  We won’t go into the rest today.  When in conversation with my folks, I’ve told them that I’m an introvert and get uncomfortable in overtly social situations.  They then relate a story about Ol’ Rojo being a young whippersnapper at a car show or some shit.  It’s said that I just went up to a group of strangers and introduced myself and played with them all day.  I don’t remember that, and I can tell you that for the majority of my conscious life I’ve never been like that.

However, there are things I want out of life.  One thing I omitted in my previous post, is that I’ve been able to make the majority of my scratch by freelancing around town.  In order to do that I’m forced to interact with a large number of people, and I have to go even further and sell myself.  By selling myself, I mean I have to promote my services constructive manner.  That shit sucks.  It’s why I always had trouble with the music scene, because there’s a business side that is a complete foreign language to me.  I want to show up, rock out, watch the last acts, get my money and leave.  I don’t want to negotiate wages, I don’t want to promote my merchandise.  I just want to play.

Though I had this post rolling through my cranium for a while now, seeing this tweet by Mark Braivo inspired me to kick out my experience.

In an earlier post by my pal, Lucky Lothario, he states that introversion is not the same as shyness.  It wasn’t until I read Party of One: the Loners’ Manifesto by Anelis Rufis that I understood the concept of introversion.  I knew I liked some people, I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t do small talk on any level for an extended period of time. If you’re confused about what it means to be an introvert, I highly recommend that book.  It helped me out a lot.

I learned that I am not shy, I just get worn out in social situations.  That’s why I don’t want to go the river with a bunch of people the day after the monster party and instead I’d rather walk my dog and play some music alone.  I have a necessity to recharge.  What I get to do because I understand that, is decline certain invitations in order to honor the introvert in me. To excuse myself from a social setting when I am overwhelmed with my introversion is a healthy way to honor that part of who I am.

zen bow

Me to Me: I honor you.

On the other hand, it can be a lonely fucking world for an introvert, and as Mr. Braivo said, there’s no reward for those unable to adapt to our extroverted world.  It’s tough to adapt though.  People are constantly staring at their phones with ear buds in.  It’s hard to even buy a smile from someone passing on the street and it seems everyone but me, is packing heat.  But it’s more than possible. If I can do it, you can do it too.  I read yesterday, that introverts react differently to reward neurotransmitters in the brain.  They don’t get energized by dopamine like extroverts and are more prone to use the reward neurotransmitter acetylcholine which makes introverts feel better when turning inwards.

Now that we have brief understanding of what introverts are, let’s look at a few things I’ve done to overcome this.  These are going to be suggestions without the use of substances.  As you know, if you hang out here, I have given up alcohol so the opiate of the masses, that social lubricant, is not available as a tool for me.  This isn’t about losing control, this is about being in the moment.

tablet

Don’t talk to me

 

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is a form of meditation which brings ones attention to the present moment.  I probably don’t do it “correctly” but there isn’t exactly a correct way to do it.  What I do is I sit still, firmly grounded, either sitting in a chair with my feet flat on the floor and my back straight, or cross legged on the ground with a straight back.  I then close my eyes, try to relax my body and breath.  I take deep breaths into my stomach and release each one slowly.  I focus on my breath and picture I am bringing golden light into my body and releasing dark energy on my out breath.  This slows down my thought process and brings me into the present moment.  I will probably talk more about this in the future because it’s benefits stretch further than just focusing the mind.

For starters, try sitting still for 10 minutes a day.

Stop Dissecting Body Language All the Time

I’ve read a plethora of books on body language and how to analyze it.  This has been a tool for me in my past, when picking up women, when meeting people for the first time, when figuring out how someone feels about me, when figuring out if someone is lying to me.  But this tool does not serve me when I am trying to be in the moment instead of inside my head.  Often I’ve noticed if someone has closed body language towards me, that they are thinking I don’t want to talk to them or I don’t like them or something similar.  If I open my mouth and say something then I can possibly open up a conversation which gives me opportunity to break out of my shell.  This brings me to my next suggestion:

Say Anything at First

This is just to get out of my shell and practice being more open to small talk.  I say stuff to people, anyone, man or woman. It’s amazing to watch extroverts in action.  They will be looking at peaches in the store and start talking about the fucking peaches.  I saw this the other day, two strangers start talking about peaches.  Then they split, and the guy comes back, and talks some more about peaches located elsewhere in the store.  The other part of this is to have no expectation for the conversation.  If I don’t get a response, or its not a welcoming one, I don’t take it personally.  I don’t even try to justify it.  Let it go, move on, there will be other people to practice on.

Try making a comment to a stranger no matter how stupid it might sound.

Warm Up

Lucky mentions it in his post, but warming deserves mentioning here as well.   In that article, Lucky says that even one on one goofing around and socializing with give him the ease to proceed into more involved situations.  He says to avoid going from zero to social.  This is great advice.  I’d like to add that I’ve used other ways to warm up as well.  A few years ago, as a prelude to going out on the town, I’d go to the gym with a couple guys and put in a brutal workout.  We didn’t work out together.  But we worked out. We got our endorphins flowing and were therefore in a better mood when we went out.

Play this Game

A strange part of extroversion is if you listen and ask prompting questions, the cat who is talking will consider you a good listener.  An extroverted friend of mine recently  told me of a game he likes to play when talking to people.  He likes to see how long he can keep the conversation going and how much he can learn about them.  I try to do this when I talk to people now.  I don’t push it, dragging the conversation on, but sometimes, a lull in conversation can be prodded along with a short comment or question.

Those are five things that have helped me move toward being more social on a daily basis.  I don’t do any of them perfectly, nor everyday, but I work on them constantly.  Being more social goes against my introverted programming so it is way out of my comfort zone.  This is good because it allows me to grow as a person.  The more rounded physically, mentally, and spiritually I am, the more successful I will be in this world.  These are just a few exercises I have used to move me in that direction.

 

 

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A Time Where I Reflect on a Year Without Alcohol

It’s good to be back.  My sober birthday is July 17th, 2016.  I’m working the steps with a sponsor who has a sponsor.  I don’t drink between meetings.  I’m not a powerless cat who is riding an out of control big rig down a curvy road any longer.  Because that is what I was.  A truck.  An overweight truck with multiple drug habits and a regular over indulgence in alcohol.  Hope no one gets butt hurt I blow my AA anonymity here.  Oh wait, I’m an internet pseudonym.   Well that’s not all I am.  I’ve also come to know, that I’m an alcoholic.

You could go as far as to call me an addict.  I’ve gone through benzo withdrawals.  That ominous hallucinatory feeling, crawling all over my body, a thousand miles from any human contact all while beyond surrounded all the time.  That shit was awful.  I told myself I wouldn’t go through that shit again.  I haven’t had to, but even at that point, after a brief hiatus, I started taking benzos again.  I went through withdrawals after two months of taking 1-2mg per day of xanax.  This shouldn’t have activated such a strong withdrawal from me, but I was drinking on top of that.

As a human test subject of my own design, if I can give you any advice in this little rant, is to not combine alcohol and benzodiazapines together.  For me, that combination, when combined with my inability to drink moderately, was always a blackout.  A blackout is oblivion.  It’s also shame and to some it’s scary.  I remember when I met an elderly lady who told me that she had one blackout her entire life.  It had scared her so much that she never drank that much again.  That was some crazy shit to a guy who aimed for blackout almost every time he drank.  I didn’t always hit my mark, and I didn’t always aim for that mark, at least consciously. but I hit it more often then not.

pyramid

Ain’t even eating grains.

The FDA will tell you the same thing here in the States.  I always thought those fucks were liars.  Everyone knows “don’t mix with alcohol or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this substance” means, potentiate your high with this combination.  Like smoking weed during an acid trip, skyrocket your inebriation potential with this combination.  The FDA already lied to me about the food pyramid, why wouldn’t they lie about drugs?

See, after about 7 months of not drinking, I decided to go full keto.  I dropped my net carbohydrate intake under 20 grams per day, set a protein goal and a fat ceiling and I went for that.  That was on March 14th of this year.  For the first week, I didn’t count calories, I just counted carbs.  Then I started eating a deficit and tracking my shit in my fitnesspal.  But I have to admit right now, that I have been doing lazy keto for the last month or so, and my weight loss has been slower.

Lazy keto is basically where I don’t count anything, but know intuitively from counting in the past, what I can eat to stay in ketosis.  Ketosis is where your body runs on ketones instead of glycogen.  Ketones are formed from lipids, which are fats, so I’m basically fueling myself with fat.  Now, I can’t say if  I am losing weight because of ketosis, or if it’s because I am eating less and not eating sugar.  I’m sure both are true.  I also have to admit that I’ve cheated a handful of times in the last 4 months, which isn’t really advisable, but fuck advisories.   I do what I want.  (Please note, I have lost thirty pounds and five and a half inches off my belly.  Rojo gettin’ his groove back.  All while making gains at the gym.)

broken bottle

So long, old friend.

I know I couldn’t have done what I want if I was drinking alcohol.  I researched keto years ago but never dove in because I was drinking near a handle a night of ye old bourbon.  Look I knew I shouldn’t have been doing that, but I didn’t care too much about it.  Plus I couldn’t truly help myself.  I would tell myself I wouldn’t drink that evening, then that evening would arrive and I’d find myself picking up a fifth or a handle at the liquor store.  I was probably only there for cigarettes, but we all know what I was really there for.

It was painfully obvious, but I wasn’t like what I pictured an alcoholic to be.  I always pictured a dude who shook like a leaf first thing in the morning and had to get some fuel in his pump to get going.  I wasn’t like that.  I drank, usually and almost exclusively in the evenings, into the wee hours of the morning.  That’s how I did it.  Daily.  I could take time out too.  If I had to go somewhere with family, I wouldn’t drink. They already knew I was an  alcoholic and wouldn’t allow it.  I didn’t want the drama anyways.  So a few days away from the sauce was never THAT big of a deal, but I was always ready to get back to it when I went home.

I had a free gene study done through the University of Michigan.  Uncle Sam already has my DNA so it’s been seen before.  I ran my file through Promethease, which references against SNPedia, and found out I had genetic markers for alcholism / addiction.  Ford Trucks built tough, Rojo built to drink.  So I am doing something incredibly different than I am supposed to do.  I’m supposed to drink, but I haven’t.

One incredible thing I’ve been able to do is be in touch with how I feel.   We’ve all heard the “Man should only feel anger and love for his dog,” trope.  Look I’ve admitted here before that I’m bi-polar. I don’t care if you believe me.  I had a hypomanic episode this year.  I know that because I was sober, otherwise I would have drowned it out.  I’m not trying to explain it, but certainly, an inability to deal with feelings was draggin’ on my wagon wheel.  Depression is a very real thing that gets it’s claws in early and doesn’t let go.  I had to deal with it honestly.

I don’t have any answers I just have some emotional sobriety which is a word I had never heard. Dudes gotta learn that shit to be able to handle themselves on the day to day.  Over the last year I’ve freed myself from overwhelming resentment and anger.  I feel like I’ve done my best to level my playing field so I have a fighting chance.  I’ve lost thirty pounds, got off parole early, and I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over a year.  I tell you this, not because I think you have a problem, only to relay that I found a solution to a hopeless situation and a life of crushing apathy.