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Recovery and INFJ Personalities

“You’re just giving things too much credence.” My brother said astutely. The subject was recovery, and in specific, why the fellowship aspect of the program doesn’t really work for me. With over twenty years, he was going to fill me in on his wisdom. With all of my abilities, I couldn’t shape the thoughts well enough to get it across to him.

That aspect right there, that little bit of communicating, that small talk of a different nature is where I am still suffering. It is not because of alcohol or drugs, it is not because of the program, or the people in it. It is because of personality type, of differences in the way I interpret the world, that those people become the uncomfortable magnifying lens of my differences.

Connecting to people is one of the key problems for INFJs. Because they’re quite unique in the way they function and the way they think 

I couldn’t phrase a thought of a few thousand words into a small talk statement, or even a broken up longer one. To explain this to him would take a rapid fire speed talking rant, that used skip thinking on a bunch of subjects that I just hope he knows… The thick layers of my thinking don’t really line up with the thin attention spans of most folks. That is not meant to be an insult at all, it is just the way people, and life are, the way I am. People are not used to doing this listening thing anymore, when they feel they have had enough, or when they don’t or can’t follow, they disengage. In many cases, they walk away either in anger and frustration, as much as in notions of my insanity. I am simply not created for this sound bite world, full of instant answers and pre-programmed responses. My sensibilities cover a lot of areas, my curiosity does too, and the human condition at moments isn’t very human.

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“This has nothing to do with them.” Was his next reply. As if that was some kind of news to me? I was explaining that the fellowship part of it all, the connections to others, were not as important to me as they are to others. I am an introvert, and I am sensitive. That doesn’t mean I have a thin skin, it simply means that I would rather not. I would rather not put upon someone the burden of dealing with a personality like mine, complex, hard to follow, and depressing at the same time. That is not a pity party statement, it is one of honest reflection. In that same time, I would rather not put in time with people, who by no knowing fault of their own, hurt me, cannot really know me, it’s too much work, and don’t have the ability or energy to get… this. People get tired of it, and you sound narcissistic and egotistical.

“You aren’t seeing things the right way.” Now, that right there struck me with a little bit of irony, okay a lot of it. I have done the research, and me being this way is mostly called intellectualism. It is just because of my thirst for knowledge that I don’t give simple answers. That fairness, and scale of balance that I have to give to each argument does not provide simple answers to me in many cases. So when I try to convey my thoughts on something, it’s too wordy, people cannot reply and it leaves their need to answer unfulfilled. It is either that, or too chopped up and full of skip thinking that only a few people I meet can follow. So when I am told that I am not looking at something the right way, or am missing something, I have to laugh. Hasn’t he/they been listening all along? There IS a reason why I write…

Our stories share their similarities, the sameness that gets people in the door. Some are sicker than others, and some will find that their addictions were hiding some other aspects of life and personality that aren’t spoken of. In those opening lines to many meetings there is mention of the still suffering alcoholic. I want to say something at times, I want to say that I am still suffering in a manner of speaking. I apparently see, and interpret the world in a different manner than most. I interact differently, and interfere without knowing. I miss some things and see others, and there is beauty and grace in people, and I truly believe in them. But please, don’t judge me by other people’s ladders, understand my own are difficult enough to climb as it is.

As the alcohol dependency gave way, the other recoveries were made acutely overt. My health went into disrepair soon after my first year sober, and at seven and a half, it is just now coming back into a working condition. The home-bound, and ability challenged years that came with my early sobriety were also filled with prescription medications and over medications. It allowed me an opportunity to know myself, my faults, and my strengths, and as it peels away into a healthier state, one filled with some valuable tools and insights. In becoming President of the club when I was not quite a year into this had its own unintended consequences. I didn’t have a home-group, and finding one after being in charge of making changes left me an outcast of a different sort. The connections, and in turn friendships didn’t cultivate and my story became a jumble of pieces with little context. In the process, the program itself grew in me, the teachings became deep understandings. It also showed me that it was written for people that are very different than myself. By either design or ignorance, an introvert is not well considered, and can easily be shut out of the fellowship experience.

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“I could care less what people think of me, but I do care how I am treated.” That was my reply, when the next line out of his mouth would have been the same or similar. It takes a lot of energy to ignore all of the social and personal things I do notice. The facial cues, the body languages, the tones of voice. The sensitivities and cognizance that I have to all of those areas of communications make it a bit more difficult to be around groups of people. I was raised in a large family, and I learned to pick up many clues all at once, from all of them. It was my early survival training without knowing it was happening. This is my environment growing up, a constant buzz of input and expression, detecting and reacting, plugged into an energy source that was my family and home. So in similar environments, around larger groups and in meetings, the constant checking of frequencies, and of tones, were put in place a long time ago.

“You get to rewrite your history with what you know now.” Was the saying that my sponsor used all those years ago. His more common one over the years has been “You have to look at the history.” In looking back, into the way, way back machine, I can rewrite mine to a degree. The way all of these differences appeared, the way they developed and why. It makes sense now when looking at how my life was presented to me, how it was directed and misdirected. Not rewritten for resentment or fault, but rewritten for understanding, for unwinding and rewinding, as to strengthen the whole. My early cognizance training, or conditioning, or whatever it was?… Relied on a certain amount of trust, the trust you find in a familial grouping. Taken away from that trustful grouping, into larger ones, with the variables going up exponentially with every entering soul, that trust is lost. It is either not there, or slowly or quickly eroded away.

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I am only as smart as Google allows me to be.” Is one of my sayings, and I am guessing about a billion others these days. When in that familial setting all those years ago, the energies and trust allowed me to engage my psyche at a different level than when in other groups. It allowed me to feel like I was somewhat more whole, not only in my heart, but in my thinking as well. When applied to other groups, parts of my connective psyche builds a wall out of mistrust or lack of understanding. It is a process of closing instead of opening that I learned over the years, it is difficult to know what part to open and when, what part to close off, and why. When you have more things to shut off, turn down, and not see, the messages that you do need to see, turn on, and turn up, get lost in the mix rather easily.

The feelings and thoughts I have on this subject are nothing new. I am an INFJ, on the Myers Briggs type indicator. It means a lot of things, but it also means that this is part of it all, that other recovery that is necessary for me to fill in those last few pieces of self. I have written about it in other pieces and the list of differences never cease to amaze me. I would normally say all of this is some kind of nonsense, but absolutely everything that is written on the subject speaks volumes of pure truth to my being. I wondered, and queried about INFJ’s and the whole friendship angle. The list of answers that were supplied by Quora alone was enough to paste a link.


Jill Williams has a good piece on many of the various aspects that most of us have to understand about ourselves. It is bad enough that we have to understand it, but it is nearly impossible for others to grasp our end of things, as much as it is for us to grasp the nuances of others personalities. The frustration angle starts at both ends of the candle from the onset. The other part of this is rarity, it is increasingly more difficult to find like minded people when you have a rare personality type poking you in the butt. Yet because we are as we are, we write about it, so there is no lack of information on this very subject. It reminds me of the non-conformists in school, and how because they all were non conforming. Appeared to be conforming to a different but similar set of standards and ideas.

Life in both worlds is a balance that I don’t fare well at, but this is where I am standing. A deep thinker who is told not to think too much in the program. Someone who can inherently connect to people, and at the same time turn off, and be turned off by those very same connections. Someone who is bound to a quantum flux of thought, asked to be religious to practices that are antithetical to my personality and being. Being held up to ladders that I have climbed before, or step not as to endanger myself and others. The fellowship, and even the program itself is something that must be walked only by myself, for that I was always certain. The personality side effects are not defects of character, but the foundations thereof. There are holes and a sadness in knowing these things, but also a grace and serenity. The balance is found in the connections to those strengths that are found in the wisdom, to thine own self be true.

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