One of the interesting things about changing yourself away from the grumpy old git is presenting yourself to old friends with what basically equates to a different personality. They sit and talk to you and you see there is a touch of oddness about how they look at you as you speak – somewhat quizzical, sometimes confused.
The person they know is different, not quite sure how but just different. Is it good? Is it bad? They really cant put their finger on it to start with. In fact in many cases they just seem to not be able to work it out but they carry on as if things are normal. It usually seems that its not until after they leave and they are able to process the discussion that they realise what the change in me has been.
A number of times I have had old friends message me after a meeting and say that they can see a clear change in how I am and how I behave. I am no longer the negative, grumpy guy with an opinion on everything, I now listen more intently to others and their opinions and I seem more relaxed and at ease with everything. Not quite at the “don’t give a shit” position but really no longer concerned with things that don’t directly affect me or my loved ones.
I also have dropped much of the protection and the facade I used to portray – I am more open and more honest with my opinions and my attitude – also more respectful of others. I care more and enjoy the world for what it is naturally rather than the false stresses and behaviours forced upon us by those who are supposed to be running the place and providing us leadership. Maybe I am becoming an old hippie… Well I do love Billy Connolly.
On the other hand, it is interesting to see new friends and how they react to me. While there have been many considerable changes in my behaviours and attitudes, I still have symptoms of the conditions that are evident – emotional numbness, hyper-vigilance and avoidance all still exist in me but in a reduced capacity. I still find it hard to express emotions at the appropriate time – the military programming still forces me to file emotional reactions away for processing and response at a later time. Although there is a much decreased fear of anger outbursts because I no longer let it build up inside me. I keep busy and tell people when something annoys me now. I still get frustrated with things but no longer seem to get angry.
I still feel most comfortable when I am out and can see exits and any potential danger but I am forcing myself to sit in different positions in restaurants and other places I go, to try to desensitise myself. Although, as I write this while eating breakfast at McDonalds I am in clear view of the door and can see all the comings and goings.
I also now tend to step outside my comfort zone more often – to experience new things, or to just do something different to get me out of any rut I might be falling into – listening to different styles of music (even classical), going to the beach, walking in the scrub, watching TV shows I would never have watched previously and a heap of other stuff as well.
So, while my symptoms have reduced or are being managed to make me a different person, new friends have no idea what the old me was like. When they see me behave in certain ways they don’t like they don’t realise they are seeing the new, revised and lower key me. They have no idea how angry a person I was or how detached I kept myself from friends and family. Sometimes the new friends don’t like the behaviours but other times they do – it’s not something I can control so I don’t get perturbed when they decide to move away from me.
All in all, my new approach to life seems to be working out positively and I am more relaxed and at peace with myself and those close to me. I thank them for their understanding and for sticking by me – onwards and upwards…