I Wince As I Look Back

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.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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