Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle . . . mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle. Prince Pyotr Alekseevich Kropotkin, Mutual Aid 1902
Oh, poor David A-S, our tenacious SCAnner editor. That boy [Boy? Ed], has been patiently prodding me to meet my deadline and commitment to write this piece on socialization for oh-so-long. If I weren’t sooooo busy socializing, I would have had it written by now. I’m really taking this tool seriously. How’s that for addict rationale?
I’ve been using socializing as a third-column tool for a while now, and mind you, I won’t be placed in the annals of SCA sobriety sainthood real soon. But when I do focus on fellowship and spending time with friends, my compulsion seems to fade; I’m too exhausted or having too much fun to engage it. I’ve been out of a committed relationship for about 15 months now, and I use "committed" loosely, because my addiction continued to rage some when my boyfriend and I were together. I’m sure it contributed to the other issues, which ultimately ended our relationship. I continue to yearn for the good things in that relationship, and there were many; but I know that the only way I can have the relationship I want is to get sober, and socializing is helping.
Case in point. Two days after my boyfriend and I split up, I adopted a dog. Of course, there are other ways to socialization (and boyfriend replacement), but it added to my responsibilities, subtracted from the time I had to act out and brought me closer to people. It also made the streets of New York a friendlier place to be. I rarely get down the street without a smile or friendly comment about my dog from some passerby. Granted, Mickey’s the world’s smartest, most beautiful and well behaved dog! I’ve also made a lot of friends at the dog run and began a dog therapy training program so Mickey can comfort hospice patients. These activities helped to create a new life with more people (and dog) interaction than I ever would risk before. I expanded my social circle exponentially. I guess the point here is that by getting involved with something I love, my dog, I engaged in a new culture with people of similar interests who compelled me to act and react, rather than act out.
I’ve also grown more assertive with my SCA buddies inviting those I’d like to get to know better to fellowship. This has helped me to be more comfortable in social situations, and also has resulted in dates, travel partners and companionship when loneliness sets in. SCA buddies offer a great laboratory to test out your latest, evolving personality. During my eight years in SCA, I’ve met many friends with similar interests and have incorporated them into my life outside of SCA. The benefit of them knowing my "stuff" and being able to go to that deep place very quickly when necessary, is something for which I’m very grateful.
Socializing has warmed me up to other people and them to me. I’ve become less shy about asking for help or favors from friends when I need them, and more accepting when it’s not available. One of my SCA frustrations has been getting close to people that sometimes fade inexplicably out of my life, but it’s not stopping me from continuing to try. I’m learning that we’re all addicts and that SCA is a selfish program where I get what I need if I ask for it. If it’s not available from the first person I ask, I move on to support my recovery. I’m also learning to appreciate whatever I’ve received from a particular person, and I’ve received a lot, regardless of what direction that relationship takes. I’m becoming more grateful, forgiving and less resentful. So take some risks. Socialize, don’t fantasize!