Think about all of the isolating that we did in active addiction. Is it any wonder that a lot of us experience a sense of loneliness in addiction recovery?
Because in addiction you have distanced yourself from a lot of the positive people in your life and have instead chosen to surround yourself with people who have the same addictive qualities as yourself, once you enter into recovery and have cut ties with the “wrong type of people” you may be left with the feeling of loneliness.
In my own life, I didn’t really hang out with anyone that I used drugs with. I was very successful in my isolating. When the time came when I was clean there wasn’t that much change in the number of people I was around (0), just a change in how it affected me.
When I was using drugs I didn’t mind being by myself. I was able to deny to myself that I was feeling lonely…the drugs helped me out with that. So when I wasn’t using the drugs anymore the sense of loneliness was crushing.
One of my biggest obstacles in early recovery was isolating myself. I guess you take someone who over their entire life has been burned a few times by getting close to people, doesn’t feel comfortable enough to show emotion in front of other people, and who has an addictive thought pattern and you have the perfect recipe for the defense mechanism called…isolation.
The way that I began to bring myself out of isolation was by sharing at recovery meetings. Even though sharing my thoughts and emotions with a room of strangers went against every instinct in myself, rationally I knew I needed to.
What I found out was that after I would open up to others I felt a hell of a lot better. Just saying the words out loud to others some how freed me up inside. It was sharing at recovery meetings that first taught me what it was like to share with others.
It seemed like once I was able to open up in meetings I began to get the basics of being able to open up to others one on one and that lead to me being able to start some healthy relationships.
So when I hear people talking about the loneliness in addiction recovery I truly understand where they are coming from. I’ve been there. I still am there from time to time as I experience recovery ebbs and flows.
I truly believe that this loneliness is in direct connection with our defensive isolating that we have pretty much come to think of as who we are. As time goes on, we see that our isolation is not part of who we are but more a part of our addiction. It really proves the point that in our recovery we are not bad people trying to become good, we are sick people trying to become well.