Table For One

Feb. 13, 2012 1 Comment Posted under: 12 Steps, Recovery

By Dan Griffin
Just the other night I went out to dinner while out of town for work. I left my iPhone in the room knowing how often I use that as a way of having to avoid being with myself and simply being present. I sat in the mostly empty dining room and noticed my fellow travelers sprinkled throughout the room also eating by themselves – and every single one of them had a smart phone. Nobody was simply eating his or her dinner.
How do you experience solitude? How is it for you spending time with…. yourself? How often are men even asked that question? Whether we like it or not, it is a universal truth that if you can’t spend time quality time with yourself then you can’t spend it with anyone else. Many people know me as outgoing, funny and some would even say charismatic. My public persona. The one who shows up when the stage lights are on? Those who know me intimately also know how much I used to struggle with insecurity, self-doubt, and intense social phobia – and still can to this day. It was debilitating. Around others I was often the life of the party but by myself I was a totally different person. Years ago, after ending a long-term relationship, a good friend challenged me to learn how to spend time with myself; literally date myself. I took his suggestion to heart because I was tired of needing to be around people to be okay. I was tired of losing my mind when I got in relationships because I was trying to get them to fill a hole in my life that nobody is big enough to fill.
I called the restaurant and made a reservation, “Table for one, please.”
“One?” The woman’s voice sounded as sarcastic as it was surprised. They made the reservation but I swore I could hear their laughter. Who calls and reserves a table for one?
I showed up for my reservation shaking to death internally. I sat through my whole dinner petrified that everyone else in the restaurant was looking at me with pity. Self-centered fear, no doubt; it still felt real at the time. But I did it. I then went to a movie by myself. Some men and women have no problem doing these things alone but for me they were quite difficult.
Today after years of practice, I enjoy time with myself. I travel a lot for work and love to go for walks or dinner by myself. I have discovered the difference between restorative time and isolating or hiding from the world.
I know a lot of men who struggle with loneliness. Many, like me, seem to be social experts but they constantly feel as though they do not fit in or people don’t really want them around. But it has nothing to do with other people. They can’t stand their own company!
In solitude we gain true intimacy with ourselves and we also deepen our connection to Life. Or The Universe. Or God. A man’s relationship with others is his gift to them. A man’s relationship with himself is his gift to himself.
What are you going to do to become more comfortable being with you?
If you are a man who is particularly interested in this topic check out my book, A Man’s Way through the Twelve Steps.
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