As I kept venturing out and meeting more and more people, I continued to build my friend network. Reconnecting with old friends and gaining new friends. The group I gravitated to were people that I simply got along with and had fun with. I have no idea how that happens, but that’s just human nature I think.
As I ventured out more, we all became closer and we were a pretty tight knit group. We are still a pretty tight knit group today. I was still a little shy and reticent because of my recovery. I don’t know exactly when I plateaued, but it was around this time and I was still conscious about how I appeared to others. My stiff neck and not being able to hang out for as long as I wanted to. Fatigue was still a problem.
The solution I chose for fatigue where my friends were concerned, was to just drink Coke while I was out. The caffeine helped me stay awake. We would usually hang out at one of 2 or 3 bars. The bartenders were our friends and it got to a point where they would know exactly what I wanted to drink and have a Coke ready when I walked in and I usually get free cokes. I tip well so it doesn’t seem to be a big deal that I get free cokes. The owners are in our friend group as well.
The story with cokes is that I can’t drink alcohol. The chemistry in my brain does not mix well with alcohol. If I drink a beer or take a shot, it makes me want to throw up. I don’t miss drinking at all and I really don’t care if other people drink around me. I like to laugh at the drunk people, that’s my entertainment. Drinking no alcohol also means that I am a cheap date. There are people that can spend over $50 in one night. The most I spend is $5 or less. I tip $1 per coke I drink.
As I ventured out more, I met an ever increasing number of people from all walks of life. There is an extreme mixture of personalities and social classes within our group. There is still the core group, but many close friends. The greater number of people I met, the more my confidence grew. Shyness went away for the most part and I became close to people within our wider social group. I’m obviously not going to get along with everyone, but everyone is still respectful. The same views are not shared by everyone, so we tend to not talk about certain subjects like politics and religion. I think what I enjoy most is that there are no awkward pauses. We can hang out every single day and still no awkward pauses, even without talking about the serious subjects. We are just hilarious and genuine people.
The confidence I built up over time helped me begin dating again. It was a long time before that entered my head. It didn’t go all that great. I was dumped because of my disability, maybe some of it was my fault? It was nice just to have some companionship and someone to talk to besides my parents. Being that I was in my 40s and living with my parents didn’t exactly give me a lot of points with women either. How I supported myself and if all of my body parts work were the most common questions.
Stubbornness is probably my biggest flaw. There is a lot of stubbornness in my family, but I maintain that it’s a side effect of my brain injury. I don’t know if I was as stubborn prior to my brain thing. Moodiness is attributable to my brain injury. Anger is not usually a problem, I’m pretty even tempered. There is no medicine for stubborn. It is a strange feeling to have two lives. One prior and one post. A serious disconnect between the two. I had to learn how to be myself again, even if my personality now is the same as before.
For me, dating and friendship equaled life. Interacting with people gave me more confidence, even the rejections gave me more confidence. The disconnect between my two selves translated into relationships. I honestly did not care, or care enough about my relationships to feel any emotions. I got over things very quickly with little to no emotion. The rejection I felt was a symptom of my recovery, not the act of rejection itself. Even if it was me who was doing the rejecting. Accepting my disability for what it was, and at the same time rejecting my disability for what it was. This same dichotomy translated into relationships. I think this way of thinking kept up my momentum as life progressed, so did my way of thinking.