Avoiding Isolation In Addiction Recovery… It Aint Easy

April 10, 2010 — 10 Comments

So it has been 1 year, 5 months and some change since I entered into addiction recovery. I have overcome a lot of my bad behaviors and addictive thinking patterns but there is one huge behavior that I am having trouble shaking… isolating.

We all know that active addiction and isolation are old chums and that they fit together so well. One directly feeds off of the other and eventually take over your whole being leaving you with… addiction and isolation.

Well I guess I am living proof that just because you take away one, it doesn’t mean that the other will follow. It seems that isolation will hang out until you actively push it out of your life. So how do you go about avoiding isolation in addiction recovery?

In the past I noticed that I do this horrible thing that involves people watching and some pretty harsh judging of these poor strangers who are just trying to walk down the street or pick up some milk at the store. I would pick apart a stranger based on nothing more than how they look, what they are wearing, how they walk… anything really.

Is it a distorted way of making myself feel better? I guess that could be part of it. But it’s also a way to ensure that I will not have any kind of meaningful connection with any other human being because I am way to busy judging them.

Like I said, I did notice this undesirable behavior in myself a while back and I have been working on not doing it. Once I realize that I’m having these thoughts about someone I just acknowledge it and stop that train of thought. I have found that I haven’t had to change my train of thought nearly as much as I did when I first noticed it. So there is improvement there.

But I have so many isolating tendencies still left. It is one thing to feel lonely when you are messed up all the time. You kind of just numb it out. It’s a whole other thing to be doing things to distance yourself from people when you can feel the pain it brings. So why do I do it?

Honestly, I haven’t figured that out yet. Who knows if I will ever figure it out. I don’t think you need to know the reason why you have some of the bad behaviors you do. I think you just have to admit that you do it, it’s a problem and then work towards not doing it anymore. So simple right? Sure.

I have even made a conscious effort lately to be more open to making connections with others while I’m out in public. I realized that maybe I wasn’t always giving off such a friendly vibe to people. Sure, the crazies would still talk to me but I would never just strike up conversations with people like the cashier or the gas attendant. I see that happening more and more lately.

I guess all of this kind of stuff comes to the surface when you are trying to be more self aware. I just realized the other night that even though I am in a house full of people or I am out to eat with a group of people I am still feeling lonely.

Instead of pretending that this isn’t happening, stuffing my feelings, and then trying to find an easy way out of feeling the pain I’ve decided to do something about it. Along with being active in my recovery my main “self goal” is to work on my isolating tendencies.

I can’t be the only one out there who is focusing on this. If you find yourself exhibiting some of the same types of isolating behaviors as myself I would love to hear about it.

If you find yourself having to go against every internal instinct to push yourself out of the protective husk that you have built up around yourself… just remember that I’m doing it to. You’re not alone.

10 responses to Avoiding Isolation In Addiction Recovery… It Aint Easy

  1. Great post Erin. It took me years just to learn to smile. It is amazing at how a smile can open up conversation and opportunity… and how much practice it took me for it to become natural.

    Alcoholic thinking cannot stand the light of day or outside scrutiny.

  2. Interesting post Erin.

  3. Well, I see so much of me in what you have written the need to be self aware is never ending I guess, when we are not, we slide back in to old ways of doing things

    • Hi Raj, that’s my problem, I find it difficult to stick to a personal change. It always happens that after some time, my old bad habits return.

  4. Hi, I really enjoy reading you blogs. My husband is an oxy addict (I’m sure that is not the only addiction). Last November I had him in detox, it got bad, he lost his business, destroyed us financially and we are losing our house. It was when he was in detox that I thought he finally admitted he had a problem and would be back to

  5. Thanks so much for checking out the site Jen. I appreciate it. I’m really sorry that you’re in such a tough spot. No one should have to deal with this sort of thing.

    As for leaving your husband. I honestly agree with you and think that by leaving him to fall further down you are actually helping him. By sticking around you are pretty much delaying the inevitable rock bottom.

    Who knows, losing his wife and kid could be the very bottom he needs to hit. I understand that rationally it seems like the right thing to do but rational has little to do with love right? Tough decision. Keep your head up.

  6. Coline Bettson June 30, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Hello & thank you – found your site through ” Stumble Upon.”

    Like what I see so far – especially this post on isolation.

    However, as a 57 year old recovering drunk, seems to me keeping to myself lessons the need to drink, for now. Funny stuff, as my darling husband is a minister & all we do is social…

    all the very best !

  7. isolating over years just got me my own apartment. my wife reached a critical point and I agreed and left.

    But recovery has been ongoing and we are talking some.

    It’s not over yet. Fellowship with a new group within church and others is making a difference.

    Life means more and I am living versus hiding and turning inward. Thanks for your insight.

  8. Hi. I’m a medical student from the Philippines. I read your blog because I was searching for a story about isolation and and how people recover from it. I have this tendency to get depressed and socially withdraw myself when under overwhelming challenges. Lately, I joined a fraternity and mixed with med school, it was quite overwhelming for me. The sad thing is, instead of facing these challenges, I started out by escaping my new responsibility as a frat member and felt depressed and slept throughout most of the day. This habit worsened as I alienated myself from my old friends and other fraternity members who were my friends before I joined the fraternity. I used to be very jolly and friendly, and used to joke a lot, that’s why people loved me, but now I am this quiet person who doesn’t interact anymore. When it’s time for lunch, I just go to my apartment and lie down until the next class. I look forward to nothing than to just lie down in bed, regardless if I sleep or not. I even skip classes just to lie down literally the whole day. I don’t know why I’m writing this. Maybe I just feel that you’d understand my situation.

    I’ve been seeing a main psychiatrist and 2 others (not that often) who are family friends. They all did their psychotherapy and given me medication to combat my depression. Now, all they say is that it is up to me to break this isolation habit and reach out to my friends. Well, I find it hard. I just wish I never joined the fraternity at all because before that, as I said, I was OK. Now, I don’t interact with anybody, and I think I am addicted to lying down, and I am so hopeless, but somehow, I try to talk to people, but I avoid frat members and places where the frat people hang out. I just miss my old life.

    • dude I know what you have to do… I had that sort of feeling, where I escaped doing my work by, focusing on other materials. I am also philippino. I had that problem, it occured when I faced a huge delima in my life. I set off, and did other things. What you need, and I am being frank with you, to meditate, pray. It sounds patronizing a little bit but it really helped me a lot. When I was doing so many things to avoid my true responsibilites. WHat you need to do is to sit down, and really concentrate, God loves you, he is there for you, sometimes you just need to think. Pray, and he will rescue you. Sit down and pray hard, don’t forget, him, the devil temps people who feel that they don’t need God, and are in the ropes of achiving great things. Please do this it helped me, sit down and just ask God for help, pray with all your heart with all your mind, don’t think of anything else, concentrate.

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