….a little blurb from the Big Book chapter “A Vision for You.” This loneliness can settle in when we are successful enough at withdrawing from life that almost no one can get in the way of our drinking. The latter was something I wanted for years. Ignorance and alcoholism led me down a path where I believed that I would be better off if everyone would just leave me alone. While I was relatively young when I bottomed out, I had managed to do fairly well in cutting myself off from most people.
I had a few friends but did not see or speak with them regularly. I was good at being evasive, being emotionally unavailable, and trusting no one. I had developed a habitat of speaking softly and mumbling my words as I really did not want to talk to people. With the possibilities that drunk driving and blackouts brought, it had become somewhat dangerous for me to go out and drink. I had learned it was safer to get drunk at home, which I usually did alone. All of these things led to a lot of isolation.
It is not inevitable that being alone will lead to loneliness but I had also developed a sense that I was somehow different from other people. This feeling of being apart, actually keeping myself away from others, and the opportunity to drink regularly was a bad combination. My life was like a black hole, sucking the light out of my surroundings in a way that expanded the darkness. The emotional pain I felt as a result of this and other problems was thankfully tempered by my drinking. Like every seasoned drunk, I was a pro at denying or escaping from emotional turmoil. Still this was no way to live and I was truly killing myself a drop at a time.
When I came to AA I was offered an opportunity to try and regain a saner way of living.
The fellowship and my sponsor supported me in beginning to live a life that included budding friendships, attending social functions without being afraid of what I might end up doing, and opportunities to just hang out with a group of people after meetings. All of these activities were emotionally painful. I discovered I had a lot of fear and anxiety that would get tweaked whenever I was around other people. Fortunately the fellowship was consistently supportive and safe. I learned there that my worries and fears were almost all unfounded. This knowledge helped but did not necessarily put an end to my discomfort. Eventually I learned to relax, to speak up and voice my opinion in discussions, and to be more open about how I felt.
Those baby steps I took in AA eventually were put into practice outside of the fellowship. Today I risen all the way to the level of normal in my social interactions. I have friends that I keep in touch with on a regular basis. I rarely feel the need to revert to being a shady con artist that will tell anyone anything to get what I want. I no longer attempt to isolate myself as a matter of course but I do still cherish being alone. It is time I often use to recharge myself spiritually.
Having others in my life is so important that it is difficult for me to fathom how I survived, virtually alone, when I was drinking. AA helped me to escape that insanity and still provides reminders of how bad things had once been. Every so often I have a conversation with a newcomer who is mumbling, talking softly, and very obviously scared out of their wits to be talking to someone. It is chilling to see this as a reflection of who I once was but it also fills me with gratitude that I am sober today.
Wishing you all the best in sobriety,