I tend to live in the past. I spend an inordinate amount of time remembering and re-experiencing my life. And much of the time as I replay stuff, I’m wincing. I’m compressing and pulling down. I’m embarrassed and ashamed.
I can’t feel embarrassed or ashamed without compressing. Every thought and emotion requires a particular alignment of the musculature. If I let go of my desire to compress, then the hopeless feeling leaves with the unnecessary tension.
So as I keep replaying stupid things I’ve said and done, not to mention wicked things I’ve said and done, I ask myself what are the commonalities. What ties together the bad things I do? And the answer is that for almost all of them, my thirst for attention was overcoming my propriety. Almost everything dumb and destructive I’ve done has come out of a need for attention, which is my substitute for love.
When I was a kid, I used to make rude sounds in class. As I grew older, I started making these rude sounds online. Either way, I was motivated by the same thing — look at me!
Yet my life is not just one disaster after another. For months at a time, I’ve been OK.
So what has held me together? When I have the real thing of human connection.
If I’m not connected to God and to good people, I’m an attention addict. More than a sex addict, I’m a look-at-me! addict.
If I don’t connect to God every day (through working the 12 steps or going to shul or studying Torah), I start jonesing for an attention fix.
I’m 45 years old and yet every day, I’m evenly poised between good and evil. Some days I’m an obnoxious jerk because I haven’t adequately fed my yearning for God and for connection to good people.
I go to way too many social gatherings and find myself off to the side standing awkwardly alone and wondering why this keeps happening to me, no matter where I am. It doesn’t matter what social setting or party or city or country I’m in, this awkward state persists. There’s something broken in the way I try to connect with people.