Chapter FEEDING YOUR ATTENTION HOG I was once at a New Age party and wanted to get the attention of some particularly lovely sari-wearing, belly-dancing women who were floating in and out of the various rooms. I had discovered that I could move past some of my fear and make a connection with people through singing. So I pulled out my guitar and started playing a song I had worked particularly hard to polish, Fleetwood Mac’s “A Crystalline Knowledge of You.” I was able to make it through without too many mistakes and was starting to feel the relief that comes from surviving traumatic experiences. Then one of the belly-dancing goddesses called to me from across the room, “You are some kind of attention hog, aren’t you!” As soon as she said it, my life passed before me. The room started to swirl, as a typhoon of shame began to suck me down the toilet of my soul. “Embarrassment” is an inadequate word, when someone pins the tail on the jackass of what seems to be your most central core defect. I am usually scrupulous about checking with people when I make requests for attention. But this time I was caught with my hand in the cookie jar up to the elbow. I remember slinking away in silent humiliation, putting my guitar back in its case and making a beeline for my car. I just wanted to get back to my lair to lick my wounds, and try to hold my self-hate demons at bay with a little help from my friend Jack Daniels. After that incident I quit playing music in public at all. Several years later I was attending a very intense, emotional workshop with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Our group of about twenty people had been baring and healing our souls for several days. The atmosphere of trust, safety and connectedness had dissolved my defenses and left me with a innocent, childlike need to contribute. And then the words popped out of my mouth, “I’d like to share a song with you all.” These words were followed by the thought: “Now I’ve gone and done it. When everyone turns on me and confirms that I have an incurable narcissistic personality disorder, it will be fifty years before I sing in public again.” Dr. Rosenberg responded in a cheerful, inviting voice. “Sure, go get your guitar!” he said, as though he were unaware that I was about to commit hara-kiri. The others in the group nodded agreement. I ran to my car to get my guitar, which I kept well hidden in the trunk. I was also hoping that I would not just jump in my car and leave. I brought the guitar in, sat down, and played my song. Sweating and relieved that I made it through the song, my first public performance in years, I felt relief as I packed my guitar in its case. Then Dr. Rosenberg said, “And now I would like to hear from each group member how they felt about Kelly playing his song.” “Oh my God!” my inner jackals began to howl, “It was a setup! They made me expose my most vulnerable part and now they are going to crucify me, or maybe just take me out to the rock quarry for a well-deserved stoning!