Being An Introverted Extrovert

By Sierra Phillips


Photo by Jerry Davis

Photo by Jerry Davis

I stand up and say, “Hi my name is Sierra and I’m an alcoholic/addict”. Nothing new there. I’ve said that too many times to keep track now. I see familiar faces. Faces that I have known for 5 years. People who are close friends. Suddenly, this feeling of anxiety comes over me. I recognize the feeling. Its social anxiety. I haven’t felt this feeling since I was getting loaded. I start to forget what I want to say. I read a part of the big book. I start to sweat, I feel like I am going to cry. All I want to do at this moment is run out of the room. As I am sharing I mention that I am experiencing some anxiety. Someone says “it’s okay you’re doing great.”  I continue trying to tell my story. The anxiety is just getting worse. I finally decide to sit down and end my share there.

Growing up, I was always trying to be in the spotlight. I mean I am a Leo after all. I did all the school plays I could do. I auditioned for one of those acting calls that you see in ads all over. I remember being so proud of myself because that accepted me. Of course, they wanted like $4,000 to attend the school that needed to go to so that dream was crushed.I did the talent show from 3rd grade until 6th grade. I was a part of the elementary school drill team. I participated as much as I could. I always wanted to be on stage.

As I grew older I started to feel like everyone around me was judging me. I was the girl who was receiving food from the school’s food drive. I remember one year the school even gave us money so my sister and I could have a christmas. I was the girl who wouldn't get invited to the parties because everyone knew I couldn't go- my family didn't have the money for me to go. Around this time, I tried to hide from the outside world. I didn't want to hear the cruel words or the looks of disgust that I thought were directed towards me.

I remember growing up in a home filled with addiction. My cousin lived with us, because his mom was an addict and abandoned him. My uncle, whose mom was killed by a drunk driver, was using with my cousin. My dad struggled with addiction and still does.

I remember telling myself that I would be different. I would break the cycle of addiction. I was always the "mom" to my four younger siblings. That is, until my step mom came along. She became the mom and my "job" was taken away. So, I packed up a bag left home and went to live under a bridge in Seattle. I thought this would be better. I felt I had a "job" again. I started to take care of all my friends who were also homeless. I eventually started using myself and that progressed quickly. Now we are here. 5 years later, 2 treatment centers, and hundreds of meetings later.

I don't really know where I stand. I tell people that I am an introverted extrovert. They ask what that is. I say for me it's having this inner desire to be the center of attention but also scared to look at who I am and tell my story.

I feel like I am constantly in this inner turmoil.  Being an introverted extrovert is extremely oscillating. Part of me wants to be around people, make friends and be in the spotlight. The other part of me wants nothing to do with anyone. I am terrified that no one wants me around. I do a lot of public speaking events, trainings, and meetings with different people for my job. I tell my story and my experiences. There’s videos and photos of me in many different organizations. However, I struggle to tell my truth in a meeting.

Learning the right balance has been hard. I spend a lot of my time at home just watching T.V. and eating food. I also only go to my home group and that’s about it. I am taking this time to learn how to sit with myself. Growing up I didn’t know how to do that. I constantly lived to take care of others. I didn’t want to look at myself. Today is much different. I seek outside help and it’s been helpful. I am doing a through and honest round of steps, I take time out of my day to meditate and do what Sierra needs.

Everyday I remind myself that it's okay. I am learning something new about myself. I face my emotions today and forgive myself for being human. I can walk through anything my Higher Power puts in my way.  I show up as my best self. I am honest when I am feeling anxious. I recognize that it's okay to feel this way. Someone once told me that if I am feeling uncomfortable doing something new that I am doing exactly what I need to do. Today I am grateful to have the opportunities that I have today. It may be confusing and frustrating at times to feel this way. However, it feels good recognizing that what I am doing is healthy. For the first time in my life I am prioritizing my time to meet my own self need before making others a priority. Therefore, I now accept that I am an introverted extrovert and that’s okay. I am right where I need to be at this very moment.