The Isolation of Addiction
How have I gotten to a place where my life so drastically changed? What exactly happened to me where my life, the only life I knew, where I was always seeking an exit to my feelings, changed and provided me with a life where I can ride out the hard feelings, the jumping out of my skin feelings and learn to remain with these very difficult emotions? What changed?
Everything. All at once and slowly a day at a time.
Slowly, day after day I fundamentally shifted from a person who drank to escape reality to a person who doesn’t drink no matter what my reality. I would love to say that this most fundamental shift brought me to a place of complete peace and calm...but it hasn’t. But I do spend more time in those places of calm and peace than I ever have before. I also learned to live with some equanimity...some balance. Recovery brought me to some pretty sweet balancing points in my life where I am content with life and its terms even when I don’t really like them...
And that amazes me. When exactly did that happen?
There is no point in time, it is just a skill, practiced and failed over and over again until my life much more resembles a sane, stable person then the dumpster fire it once was...
Perhaps the most fundamentally appreciated feeling recovery has provided me is of being a part of something greater than me...I used to feel so alone. And today, I still feel that way but I feel totally different about it. Before I was alone and I was desperately trying to connect. Today, I am connected to recovery and so being alone is just fine. I need not connect up all the time, I can live alone, glass not in hand, and be ok.
Once upon a time, I was so alone that I could not even imagine ever feeling connected, safe, secure, happy alone. Because being alone was so painful. Being alone signified a failure of connection. I was alone drinking because I had failed to prove myself worthy enough to have anyone want to come into my orbit. I drank to cover up this most basic and hard truth, once drinking I could only connect with those who were similarly situated, drunk and drinking. And the joke was on us, because as soon as we imbibed, any real connection opportunity was lost to us all.
It was a failed living strategy. I thought that drinking brought me closer to people but it was just an illusion. I was not ok, not closer to people. And the more I drank, the worse it got. So I was pathologically engaged in a course of conduct designed to always and forever leave me feeling alone, unconnected and distraught...and yet, I did it repeatedly for over a decade.
Today I am alone sober. And it is as different as night is from day. Today I have the opportunity to connect but often choose not to because being alone feels good, feels right. Recovery has altered solitude from being a prison from which I was committed to escaping from, to a place where I can live my life, making a conscious choice to leave and move toward others in a real effort to connect to them, sure sometimes I still fail but even that is ok. Because even when I am left standing alone, I am fine. My own company not something to be altered or escaped from, it is just the place where I can return to me and to the only place I ever find God, in the quiet stillness of my own company.
I throw it out there today that drinking was a way of life for me, and today, recovery is the way of my life. The differences between how I lived then and how I live now, pervasive and fundamental. I used to sit alone glass in hand, head bowed in submission. Now I sit alone in the dark, pouring my heart out to anyone who cares to read, drinking coffee and enjoying the fuck out of most moments regardless of whether or not they are what I really want.
If someone would have told me 26 years ago that I would reach a place in my life where everything would still be in flux, I would have a great deal of what I wanted and also a good amount of shit that I didn’t, and that I would be ok regardless, I would have thought them a fool. But it is true. I am here, living this life, glass not in hand, head not hung. Amazing view one can take in when you are able to hold yourself and head in a manner that provides a view other than the ground. My death spiral slowed to a normal life pace, and so too my view of the earth lifted towards the heavens. I can see so much more of life when my gaze is not forever downward cast. Recovery changed that, allowed me to clean up my shame and guilt and search the heavens for meaning, purpose and joy. Today, my head lifted, my view pervasive as I live life a woman freed from the bondage of herself.
If you have a problem with alcohol, please reach out. I am happy to help. You are not alone.