No Longer On My Own

Barry Buss

Few of my friends knew what it meant to me to make the Junior Davis Cup Team.

Junior Davis Cup Camp (Click Here) completed, I returned home to my club and my friends with the great news. When I excitedly explained I'd made Junior Davis Cup, few had any idea what I was talking about, and even after explaining JDC, heads nodded in approval if not understanding. And why would they? Elite junior tennis was a niche thing. But my club couldn't be happier for me and that felt good.

Yet my last conversation with Dad lingered. What was that about? I'd let my guard down again, pining one more time for his approval. Charlie Brown with the football. Though it all made no sense. I just couldn't imagine after all we'd been through how he wouldn't have been thrilled with my good fortunes. But that's not how it went. And here we were, pulling back, digging in, wary and mistrustful once again, adjusting to what our latest terms of endearment would be.

Only 17 and still wildly immature, I needed something from him, something to help me feel whole. But that was the trap in our unhealthy dynamic, me needing him to act differently so I could feel safe and complete. I was already discovering how hard it was to change my own behavior, let alone will somebody else to change theirs.

So much of my emotional life was about managing our frayed connection, yet for all my efforts, I often landed in a dark defeated place. I wasn't overtly asking for anything. Just act like a normal Dad, be supportive, be happy for my successes and stop being so damn erratic. Why was that so hard for him? But on a deeper level, it was the connection I missed. I saw it all around me. Parents right there with their kids, morning noon and night. Hugs and affection, no matter the activity or outcome.

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Growing up in Boston and Los Angeles, Barry became a national ranked junior player at the age of 12, and a member of the elite USTA Junior Davis Cup Team. As a college player he tied the legendary Jimmy Connors 22 match win streak at UCLA. He is now an independent teaching pro working in Franklin, Tennessee.

You Can Get There From Here

The harrowing tale of an American junior tennis standout's descent into alcoholism, addiction, bipolar disorder, and eventual hospitalization and his journey toward healing and recovery. Essential reading if you care about alcoholism, recovery and mental health, with competitive tennis forming the backdrop of Buss' life.

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