Slow Ripening Fruit

If this ever pops up as my screen saver in a non-ironic hipster way, please hunt me down through the triangulation of my IP address and beat me with a shovel.
If this ever pops up as my screen saver in a non-ironic hipster kind of way, you have permission to hunt me down through the triangulation of my IP address and beat me with a trenching shovel.

I am not a good friend.

Ok, now let me rephrase that in a more positive light, in a new context, a way that doesn’t make me sounds whiny and self-pitying, which is not the point of this writing.  Here goes again.

I haven’t learned to be a good friend.

Is that better?  Does it resonate in a manner that is spiritually more grounded and closer to the intention of my spirit? I am not sure, to be honest.  But I think it speaks closer to my truth, rather than Truth As We Know It.  The Iron Clad type truth that is set in marble and recited as gospel at the light of the 10th Tempest Moon at late harvest.  You know, that kind of truth.  But it’s where this alkie sits at things when it comes to something that seems to pop up often enough in my mental caravans and analytic dalliances.

If memory serves me well, I may have written about this sort of topic in the past.  And that’s fine, as I will no doubt repeat myself when it comes to things that have affected my life, or is something ongoing.  And this certainly is ongoing, one of those white dandelion tufts that flies in the air and gets caught up in the winds and never really settles for a while.  This is one of those core issues that seems to arise again and again – annuals of the soul, weeds of the spirit, if you will.  Each time I start to pin it down, I see something different, although it never really dissipates.  Core issues are the things that still linger within me, that carry a residue long after I think I have it nailed down. Core issues are the sort of beasts that refuse to lie down, without a lot of work and examination. So bear with me.

Some old chums of mine from the rabbit hole days.  I am the one with the funny ears.
Some old chums of mine from the rabbit hole days. I am the one with the funny ears, near the middle.  But left of that.

I see solid, strong friendships around me.  For example, my brother-in-law – he’s a wonderful dude if there was a wonderful dude.  He has a best friend, who he has had since high school.  He too is a groovy cat.  They have seen each other through thick and thin.  They share much with one another, are present in each other’s lives and are rock solid in their commitment to one another.  They aren’t inseparable, unlike a bunch of giggly school girl BFF’s would be, but then again, they’re grown men.  And yet they share a spirit.  They seem to complete each other and allows the other one to step up, standing on the shoulders of one another, moving through life’s turmoil and joy.

And while I see this and bear witness to this relationship, I don’t get it.  I mean, I get it, but I don’t truly get it.  It’s nice for them, I think to myself.  A real measure of one’s growth can be reflected onto the mirror of a true friend.  Or at least that is the kind of thing they say when I look up friendship quotes on line.  Aristotle said that “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit”.  Some other dead folks said some lovely things about friendship too.  There is the idea that a friend walks with you in the darkness, who still stay beside you despite faults, and are there when others have abandoned ship. Almost looks good enough to investigate, but not sure if I want to commit to that investigation, even.

Oops, did I say the “C” word there again?  Commit? Me?

I took the analogy too far, Mr. Aristotle.  Let us distract ourselves with Sophistical Refutations and just call it a day.
I took the analogy too far, Mr. A. Let us distract ourselves by discussing Sophistical Refutations and just call it a day, shall we?

Growing up, I never really had true friendships.  Sure I had the occasional local kid who didn’t mind killing time with me as we looked for grasshoppers and spiders to put in an Ultimate Fighting Pit that I put together with Lego.  I had some acquaintances in grade school and I ran with some other disenfranchised brothers-in-arms while in high school, but never had that one or two guys who I bonded with in blood, or at least fake blood.  I certainly don’t keep with any fellas today that I can call true and deep friends who came ship bound from my past.  I never carried a connection to my past, other than ancient resentments that helped keep me in the depths of my alcoholism.  It just didn’t seem like it was in the cards for me. What I had surrounded myself for so many years weren’t friends, but drinking buddies.

Now, I do have some friends today.  Well, let me qualify that.  I have friends who started out as my wife’s friends.  I think we all have those group of men and women, who came along with our partners.  Fellow travellers, all in coach.  I have some very caring and kind-hearted people in my corner who saw both my wife and I through the rough spots of my bottoms (yes, plural) and are still here today.  Some visited me in treatment, some took care of me by taking care of my family while away.  These souls are still with us today, and I am grateful.  But outside of that, there isn’t really much on the menu.

Now please let me make one thing clear, and this is very clear on my end after much inventory and discussion and deconstructive navel gazing – this whole thing is of my making.  I am not a victim here.  I am not wallowing in poor spirits over this.  I am not pouring spirits over this.  I am staking a claim in something that I own, and that bears down on the haunches of my life and my choices.  To have a friend, I need to be a friend.  Simple as that.  And going back to my original premise at the top there, I haven’t learned, nor have I had the strong inclination to be a friend.  That’s where the buzz is.  That’s where I see my part.  That’s where the rubber hits the road for this wretched chimney sweep.

Don't do it Dino! You're still a rat in that pack.  Frankie says so, and Sammy seconded it.  Joey abstained.
Don’t do it, Dino! You’re still a rat in that pack. Frankie says so, and Sammy seconded it. Joey abstained.

I had a old mate / work acquaintance of mine email me a week ago.  He wanted to get together for coffee, something that he and I have volleyballed around for months.  I ignored it.  He emailed me yesterday saying “You can’t ignore me forever.  I’m a cool guy”, half in jest.  Sort of sums up where I stand on things, I suppose.  I often “overlook” emails time after time and then wonder why I don’t get emails any more.  I sometimes dismiss phone calls or any sort of attention where my presence is requested, front and centre.  I tend to squirm out of coffee dates and I definitely avoid meal dates at all times (gahhh!).  I like the soft and easy approach to friendship – don’t have any.  And while that sounds rather brusque, I have to be fully honest and say that I just don’t know any other way than that of the Lone Wolf.  It’s a predisposition of the mind.  A strong echo of my old ways.  A leftover from my self-contained manner of living.  Self-reliance run down to another level, yes?

This all boils down to one of my real truths, my real issues, and that is I want to be seen, and yet don’t want to be seen.  I like the idea of being surrounded by those who like being around me and see me for who I am, and not who I think I should be to them.  I enjoy the visual of holding court with strong men (and women) who know me inside and out, who are there regardless of my character defects and unflattering flabby bits.  What I don’t see is my effort being put into it.  As my wife has said to me over and over again, being a friend takes work.  Ugh.  I have to work at this?  Don’t they all just come running up to you, tugging at your elbow, begging to be included in those reindeer games of yours?  No?  Oh.  Am I ready to be there when one of my friends flame out in some part of their life?  Am I ready to take calls at 4 am and just listen?  I am prepared to drop what I am doing to be at a friend’s side, tout suite?  Am I willing to put my ego-centric ways aside and just be there for them?  I don’t know.  Call me selfish (you’re selfish, Pauly), but I am not there right now, because I don’t know what it’s like.  I never went to camp for that.  I didn’t read the instruction booklet. I never got the the pamphlet on how this thing shakes down.

Oh God no...not another picture break!!  Let it go already!!
Oh God no…just get over yourself already!! Let it go, will ya?!!

Did you catch what just happened?  I just lied.  In the last few lines above.  I am blaming something else for my situation.  Poor childhood, etc. Did you see that?  I should have left it at being selfish. Done.  So, I post about something that I tell myself is not a big deal (oops, another lie), and then I come here and am dishonest.  Justification and rationalization are ugly things, but very powerful and real things, to alcoholics.  But catching it – aha! That’s the real gravy, and that’s where I mine the material for the work I need to do.  That’s the difference between then and now.  Here and now, I get to catch things.  I don’t get them all, but I snare some shortcomings, and I wrangle them to pen and paper, to someone’s ear, to the Creator, and I get about some clarity that will get me into further action.  That’s the beauty of what we get to do.

So here’s the real deal, the real crux of it all, my entire post put into a few words: I feel isolated because I don’t have friends.  But I am selfish, fearful and closed-minded about opening myself to others.  I want, but don’t want, others in my life. Then I wonder why I feel isolated and don’t have friends.  Did I leave anything out?  Oh the wonders of being clear on things, how fantastic is that?  I love it.  I build my sandbox, create the borders up high so no one can come in, put in the toys, muck around in it, then wonder about the sand in my shoe and try to read it like tea leaves when all I had to do was step out of the sandbox and play on the swings with the other kids.

In the final analysis, I do find it difficult to open up to others.  I take a very, very long time to trust and feel some sort of connection to someone else.  I can make fast, throwaway friends hinging on the flimsiest of foundations, lickety split…that’s not an issue.  What I am talking about is the soul lifting, spirit changing, full on bred in the bone type deals here.  The concrete you can build condos on, or launch rockets off of.  Those folks or opportunities don’t come often to me, and perhaps I have those in my life already and just don’t see it.  Or not.  But in the grander scheme,  what it comes down to is being where I need to be, getting clarity where I’m at and then deciding what actions to take…and believe me, I do have choice in my decisions.  I am no longer the victim, not longer the patsy, the stool pigeon, the dump site.  As one of my favourite sayings goes, “If it’s on your plate, you’ve ordered it”.  Not sure if there is any slow ripening fruit on that plate. So, I can introduce myself to someone or not.  I can offer my phone number or not.  I can muster my courage and say yes to a cup of coffee at the local cafe, or turn it down to catch the bus home.

I can. I can. I can. But as for now…I’ll catch a raincheck on that one. I have a book I would rather like to read.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Running From the Booze says:

    I relate to this BIG TIME and it’s one of my mental loop topics that I take out and examine when I’m stuck at home dusting, mopping or cleaning the bathrooms. I should make more of an effort, I guess I’m just too lazy.

    1. We all have our mental loop topics, don’t we? I usually find something that comes as of late, then write it out, here or in a journal of some kind. I find that it doesn’t loop as much, the act of putting it down. Putting it down also lets me explore it a bit, as stuff comes to me as I write it. I think we all have room for improvement…clearly I know I do. But I just see it for what it is, and sit with it, and also do the actions needed to move through it. I actually got back to my mate there with the email and we are meeting up next week. It will actually be good to see him. So I know that the impetus on these musings gets me out of my comfort zone and and out there.

      Thank you for the comments – nice to know that we’re not alone!


  2. sherryd32148 says:

    I have one friend who’s known me since I was 18 and who knows me better than anyone. She’s my “sister from another mister”. That’s it besides the hubs who is my other half. I have other “close” friends but really? They don’t know me. I don’t open up and it’s mainly because I know they’ll hurt me and I’m just not willing to risk it. I tell myself that I’m old and that I have enough friends and that it’s just too much work but really and truly it’s because I know I’ll get hurt.

    Sad but true. Then there’s this…about 5 years ago I let myself get sucked into another friendship with someone I thought would be another one of “those”. Little by little I opened my heart as we grew closer. I thought, “Well that’s not so bad…maybe I CAN do this!”

    Nope…she betrayed me. I won’t go into details but it was a biggie. I’ve forgiven and we’ve patched things up but she’ll never be the friend I thought she was going to be.

    Man…do I sound JADED or what?

    Can of worms Paul…can of worms.


    1. Sorry to be the can opener on this, Sherry. I am also sorry to hear about your experience with that women who betrayed you. It is almost like it validates our fears of opening up and then brings us further into our turtle shell. I have to be aware of that when I get out there and speak to others or do something that I have a fear of. I can’t let one experience stain further ones. Easy to say, of course, isn’t it?

      I think what you said about forgiveness is great. There is also something to be said of expectations, and I too have to watch for that. I too have been burned by someone I had expectations of…hoping that they would be one thing or another. I just let them be now. Again, easy to say…lol. I kind of learned this in my HR sort of training. The “Halo Effect” as it’s called – where we see a bit of ourselves in a candidate and hire them because of that. We put the expectation on them that they will turn out like us (fabulous! stupendous!) and realize that they are just different. I do that with people in real life as well.

      Thank you for sharing, Sherry – you’ve actually given me some food for thought (non Whole 30 food)


  3. risingwoman says:

    Oh, man. Have you been reading my mind lately?

    I am really happy with my life as it is now, but it is missing friends. I don’t mean work colleagues or people who like me. I mean FRIENDS. I just don’t have any. Not real ones.

    It would be easy enough to say, “Well, I live in a foreign country! So language barrier!”. Well, yes. And also, well, no. Because the truth is that, like you, I have NEVER had real, deep, abiding friendships. Not at school, not in the neighbourhood growing up, not from my whole life in Canada where I was totally fluent in English. None.

    I have spent years thinking about this whole thing, and I have also had to admit that I have been a lousy friend at times. I have also been an awesome friend, but pretty sporadically. And as I get things in my life more and more lined up, I am spending more and more time wishing I had some girlfriends to meet for coffee or dinner, or just to call and chat to in the middle of the day. But I don’t. And that’s down to me, 100%.

    So, the truth is that I have spent the past 9 years since stopping drinking building up a life in so many ways: husband, children, job, writing. All good stuff, and it was all important and the priority. Now I want some friends.

    It was so great to meet you for coffee in Toronto, and I left feeling pretty sad that I didn’t live there. I think we’d be good friends, you and I.

    1. “I have also been an awesome friend, but pretty sporadically. ” I identify with this because I too have put myself out there (and not in a self-seeking way, which is what I used to do often) and felt good about it, and then just sank back down into my old ways. I am an introvert, so I naturally recharge by being alone, or retreating a bit into myself. Not always a good place for an alcoholic, even a sober alcoholic. But I know the difference when I am having good alone time and when I am isolating. I can sense when I am withdrawing a bit too much. And that is why I have meetings, or have the ocassional coffee with a member of AA or whatever it is. But if I didn’t have that, I am not sure how I would navigate those feelings and desires of just getting out there and yakking it up about who knows what. So I see what you say about wanting to meet some girl

      friends and just chat. And clearly these things just don’t pop up. I have to work for them, I have to have the energy around me that invites this. I tend to shut down and give off vibes of “don’t talk to me”. I am very good at that. So I have to be aware of that direct it another way. Introduce myself to someone. Be more open-minded and listen (hard to do at times!) to what someone is saying. Sometimes there is a spark there, sometimes none.

      I don’t know, Michelle, I certainly don’t have the answer to this, but I do get stirrings in my heart guiding and nudging me towards what I can do to become more open and willing to start and foster friendships. Ugh…it is what it is, as they say. And yeah, it was great meeting ya for coffee. I think we would have been good friends too 🙂


  4. At least you recognise the situation you’re in. I think Facebook is to blame for making many people think they have hundreds of friends when actually they’re just acquaintances. I only have a few close friends but I am kind of ok with that.

    1. One of the reasons I don’t do FB is precicely what you speak of. I think many of us propogate an online presence that is not always authentic to our true selves, and it tends to skim to certain things. The “friends” thing is alarming, and there is so much hang wringing over “unfriending” someone and the consequences of that, etc. There seems to be a lot more drama involved than true connections. I have enough challenges connecting in the real world, let alone that stuff…lol.

      I am glad to hear that you have some close friends – I think that having these folks around, through the thick and thin so to speak, makes life easier when we are transitioning to a sober lifestyle.

      Thanks for the comments 🙂


  5. Dede says:

    I think it comes down to trust. I trust no one except my husband and children. Well, maybe my mother-in-law. (I know! But it’s true). There’s a line in a Jason Isbell song that reminds me of this. “A heart on the run keeps its hand on the gun, it can’t trust anyone”. It’s just easier not to try methinks.

    1. Trust certainly is a big thing, isn’t it? And for those of us who fear trust, or don’t trust trust, it can be daunting to pass over the fear and into opening up. I think we feel that we are going to be devastatingly hurt by opening up, but I don’t see it that way. I do feel *vulnerable* for sure, but I try to remember that it’s my expectations of others that can and will be my downfall. I have to learn to take others as they are, and not what I want them to be. But it’s easier said than done for this cat.

      I really enjoy that quote there (I have heard his name bantered around before – I do like his music). But yeah, it might be easier in the short term to not try, but I know in my heart that not trying would cause me more disturbance. So, here I go again, going against my own comfort level and getting out there. Sigh…but then again, there is so much to be reaped 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting – I am very touched.

      Love and light,

  6. Hi Paul,

    I’ve got to say this, right up front: as blog posts go, it doesn’t get any better than this one. Here’s why: I get to know one of my favorite bloggers even better than I feel like I already know you, and I get to learn a little bit more about myself. So thank you, so much for writing this, my day is better for having read it.

    I definitely can recall you writing on this subject matter in the past, and what that tells me is that it’s a recurring issue in your life, a nudge you are getting from the universe on multiple occasions. I have several of those in my own life, and I write about them all the time, which is most likely what keeps our blogs going, and keeps our lives interesting.

    These kinds of issues, the ones where we can visualize an uncharted path, and see the end goal as desirable, but wonder about whether the work it takes to get there will be worth it, are challenging. I could easily use the diet/exercise analogy, but even I am sick and tired of hearing me talk about that subject, so I’ll take another one.

    I’ve had a thought about a future career path for myself (I’m going to keep this general so as not to make this comment turn into a novel). There are many aspects to this dream career that are very appealing. I can visualize in a crystal-clear way how rewarding it could be.


    There are many, many steps between that dream and the present. Many unknowns, much work to be done, and my life is wonderful just as it is. And if I put in all that effort and it goes the wrong way, what then?

    Hopefully this analogy make some sense to you. From everything I’ve read, you are on the path of peace and serenity. You cherish the relationships that you do have, you are blessed with an active relationship with your higher power, and you are in active service to others. You could certainly leave it at that, and make peace with it.

    But you are questioning, so that’s telling me it might be time to test the waters. Like we always say in our circle… nothing changes if nothing changes. So the friend thing comes up, you think about, decide you are okay for the moment, and life goes on. For me, anyway, if I am meant to make changes, the issue will continue to pop up until I address it, and maybe that’s where you’re at in terms of this subject. It’s on your mind enough to write about it, so maybe it’s time to make some changes and see how it feels.

    Alright, I said I didn’t want this to be a novel, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. Sorry for the long comment, you have obviously gotten me thinking, and for that, and for you being you, Paul, I am very grateful!


    1. Ah Josie – love this…means a lot what you said, and you’re the one who has gotten me thinking now. Hmmm….I really liked what you said about this thing about thinking about this, deciding that we are ok, and then moving on. Sort of these litmus tests – checking in with ourselves and our HP. I think just the act of questioning, as you mention, means that perhaps we are on the verge of action. Or the willingness to be willing to act. For me, it is now meeting up with one or two people, and also taking time to email some folks I have neglected, and having wonderful responses from them. So that was good.

      It’s funny, and I know I am not alone in this, I question these things, work through them in the post and then it goes away. We expound upon the thing that is most upfront in the brain and in our hearts and soul and then we sort of work it out a bit, like rolling out dough…stretching it, working it seeing where it goes. So often I look back and say “why did I make such a big deal about *that*?” lol.

      Anyway, lots of insight in these comments, Josie. This is one that methinks I will be back to read again.

      Thank you…and hope you had a wonderful anniversary!


  7. First off, wow. Really love what you’ve done here. The Pauly in real-time thing. Seeing the Truth, then lying, catching it, then telling The Truth again. Watching you work through your stuckage. It makes for exciting reading. And I so personally recognize every flux and fumble. It’s all pure me. And reassuring that the alchemical process is similar.
    But you and I have had different experiences in buddyhoodship. I blame war movies. That was all I watched as a kid. So I wound up wanting to be the guy that takes a bullet for his buddy. Ironic choice of employment for someone we will later find to be a black-hole of selfishness.
    Anyway, I always always had to have a running dog. A roadie. A gun-twirling Deputy Dawg. Was always willing to pal up and complete a crime-fighting (read; vigilante justice) duo. There was always a Marko or a Mad Dog or Monk to roll with. And I consider myself extremely blessed by The Creator for it. But you are right, friendship is work to maintain. When they bed down with your ex, or your sister, or you do wrong by one of theirs, things can get… testy. Sure I would take a bullet for them, but dealing with all that bullshit seemed too hard.
    Ah, somehow you work through it, and you stay close, but a lot of times, a little less. And it feels tragic.
    So maybe you’re not so dumb going Lone Wolf. I don’t know.
    I know that in my zeal to make blood buddies, I wound up pairing up with some bad dudes. A certain sociopathic killer I worked with comes to mind. A few biker dudes that burned me out of some buckage. Some dudes I bounced with that bailed when I got ganged. It took me a while to realize not everyone is worthy of true friendship.
    So I guess like you, I went wrong, Only in the opposite direction.
    Whataryagonna do? Spit apricot pits at the wall and forget it.
    But here’s my take on having that special bullet-stopping pal- It’s like finding a soul-mate lover. You have to be patient. Go on lots of dates. Be polite through the bad ones. Have fun with the okay ones. And when the great one comes along, you go all-in. Spit-handshake it for life. And at’s it.
    In the meantime, you’re no less of a person. Just because you may not have one. Either a soul-mate lover or a Samoan attorney as crazy as you are.
    I know lots of beautiful people who are worthy of the deal (read; you) and just haven’t made that connection. They have friends. A life partner. But maybe not that Willie to their Joe. And that’s okay. There’s plenty of people out there just dying to have somebody to have coffee with. We can hang with them. Make them feel worthy. And well you know the rest of the script.
    It’s never too late, Lone Ranger, to partner up with a Tonto.
    You my friend, are not-so slowly ripening for it.
    In the meantime, I’ll be a cyber pal. We can still do some damage together. Kick over some tables. Stand back-to-back holding off the swarming crowd with ashtrays and chair legs. Keeping one eye peeled for police lights. And a clear path out of the bar.
    Then peeling out of the parking lot while howling at the moon. Laughing because we made it. And did you see me spin out of that choke-hold? I was like a ballerina. Oh, and nice karate kicking there, Pauly. Your uncle would be proud.
    I can’t explain the feeling. It’s just really good. And I want you to experience it. At least some non-violent and reckless equivalent. And if I, a lowly spiritual serf, wish it, how much more so your all-loving Creator?
    You are in for some fun, my friend. Pants-pissing hilarity. Coming to a theater near you.
    You’ll see.
    Until then, let me push you over the hassock, and throw cake on your head.
    It’s considered an honor in my tribe.
    And you’re in.

    1. Once again your comments blow the post out of the water. With an elephant gun, attached to a rocket launcher and a million mentos / diet coke bombs. Thanks for the kind words, Herr Gustaitis. I want to write some more banter, but it’s not in me these days. Heavy heart doesn’t make make for light and hilarious Dan Brown kind of writing. Maybe when I get out of the funkingrooventstein I’ll pen you a proper response. But I did want to thank you for the laugh, and for being there. You are a good friend. I wish we were in the same country at least to get a chance to at least be in the same zipcode. But that’s ok, we are where we need to be, yes?

      Manly guy hugs,

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