“I have an inner circle—myself.”
Of all the things the man said, that’s all I remember. It took place in a meeting where I was the guest speaker, and several people responded to various questions about being open with a few people. I had suggested they establish an inner circle—a cadre of people they could trust, such as two or three individuals.
The man admitted that he had never had a close friend, and “I used sex as a way to achieve love.” He added, “For a few minutes I felt good, but afterward I felt worse.
“I can’t open up to anyone because I’m afraid they’ll tell somebody or feel disgusted with me.”
Before I had a chance to respond, the leader of the group said to him, “Several of us felt that way when we first came.”
“Yeah, I was one of them,” another man called out. “But after three meetings here, I learned that some of their junk was worse than mine.”
Another man called out, “One day I opened up and told the group a couple of terrible things I did. No one seemed shocked.” He smiled before he added, “It’s still not easy, but the only way I know to get rid of those fears and inner demons is to tell someone else. And these guys have pulled me out of my self-disgust.”
I could have said many things that evening in response to the man’s confession about isolation, but the other 20-plus men did a splendid job. The next thing I remember saying is, “When you admitted to us about being isolated from everyone else, you were trusting us. We could have told you what a jerk you were, but none did.”
His eyes clouded up, he nodded, and dropped his head into his hands.
One man walked across the room, hugged the newcomer, and said, “I want to be your friend.”
I don’t know the end of that story, but I sensed two things. First, the newcomer opened himself—not a lot, but enough to admit his aloneness. Second, the others nodded, encouraged him, and one of them embraced him.
The healing had begun.