“So how often are you reaching out to the guys in your recovery groups?”
That was what my counselor asked me yesterday in my session with him. Reaching out? Does he mean like actually talking to them or just being in group? No, he meant actually texting and calling other men to “talk.” There was just one thing my counselor didn’t know. I don’t know how to reach out and actually talk to men. These are guys who have problems. They have issues and they share them openly so I know what they are struggling with. Why would I want to reach out to them and talk to them?
“You need to start working on building intimacy with other men. It’s how you learn to build relationships.”
Ok, is he really serious? What am I supposed to talk about? And to whom? I know they pass a phone list around during the meetings that people sign up on and then copy other guys numbers. I even hear guys talking about how much this helps them to talk to each other when they are struggling or arguing with their wives or even when they have something good to share. I just don’t know how to do that. How can I reach out to someone else when I can’t even be honest with myself? There is so much I don’t want to face. Talking to someone else is terrifying. I struggled to just tell my counselor most of what I had done. I have shared in group which fortunately is just about talking without interruption. Now he wants me to talk to other people? I really just want to protect myself and isolate back into the quiet of my own lies.
So I went to the next meeting. I like the smaller ones. I have actually had casual conversations with guys in the group. They seem genuinely interested in how I am doing, without being intrusive or really pushy. So, I tried. I texted a guy who seemed like he was nice enough. He actually responded and wanted to know how my day was, when was my disclosure (hopefully I can still avoid that!) and how was my wife handling things right now.
Ok, that was one. I responded and answered his questions and even checked on him. He has been in recovery for almost a year. He was out of the house for seven months before his wife said she wanted him to come back home. He told me that the only way it happened was that she saw him practicing what she had always wanted, a loving and honest husband.
Next, I saw a guy I knew from our previous church. We had great conversations then about who knew more scripture and was more intelligent. Ok, maybe we were both a bit full of ourselves. Anyway, he is humble. He isn’t the same anymore. I like this version of him a lot. His compassion seems real and his words are full of honesty and not arrogance. I have a lot to learn.
Reaching out is terrifying to me. However, I have been able to talk to a few guys. The other night when my wife was overwhelmed with sadness from the depth of my betrayal towards her, I went and stayed with a friend. I was scared. I didn’t think she would want to talk to me again. I didn’t think God would want me because of how dirty I am. I reached out and one of my new friends shared this with me:
Psalms 25 has been my cry to the Lord. “He hears you when you cry out to Him and is with you.”
I am discovering that sharing is painful and necessary and healing and encouraging.