feeling of loneliness and/or found themselves in situations where they were very
much alone. It could be something as mild as; say a businessman on a trip alone
in his hotel room where he feels lonely in the absence of his wife and children.
In extreme cases; say the recent widow or widower who finds themselves alone
without their lifetime partner, the feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming.
In the world of addiction and recovery, the selfish pursuit of getting high
at all costs while alienating friends and loved ones will often force the issue
and one will often find themselves alone as a result. In my case, when my family
had had enough of my drinking and sent me packing the loneliness very quickly
expanded and morphed into feeling sorry for myself and then finally debilitating
If you turn back the clock and look at some of the behaviors that were going on at
the beginning of SOME people's drug/alcohol use, you will find that they felt "alone"
even when they were among other people. They were either extremely self-conscious,
lost in thoughts about the past or future, afraid that those around them didn't like
them, that they didn't have anything to intelligent to say, etc…. In some cases, alcohol
helped ease these all-consuming thought patterns and it made being around others a
heck of a lot easier to endure. Of course the fix is fleeting because you aren't addressing
the why's of having those feelings and thoughts in the first place. Over time, the efficacy
of the booze in helping you cope in a social world becomes less and less effective. The
numbing of the thinking brain still brings some relief though and you may even try to
"avoid" social situations trying to convince yourself that you prefer being alone anyway.
More times than not, that isn't even remotely true but it's the only way you can deal with
a state of being that is quickly spiraling into dangerous territory.
For a lot of folks this desperate dark and lonely state finally brings you to, for lack of a
better term, a bottom of sorts and you realize that something needs to be done. That
something naturally starts with the decision that the bottle needs to go and that maybe
some sort of help is called for. For many, that sincere effort to find a solution will find
them trying a support group, i.e. AA. While going to AA meetings will certainly help
keep you from being alone, it won't necessarily help you with ANY of the problems
discussed in the previous paragraph.
So, what to do about those issues? One reason that people are overly self-conscious is
the direct result of having a lack of empathy for others. Empathy really amounts to caring
about what others think and feel. It requires active listening, not just hearing what other
people are saying and then "thinking" about how you are going to respond and make it all
about you. Active listening is a skill and it can be exercised and improved if the desire to do
so is authentic and sincere. I'm still a work in progress it that regard but it does get better with
time and effort. Being obsessed with time (past & present) requires learning to be present with
intent. I wrote a blog entry about that and I cover a lot of ground in that area and the others
(listening, being interesting, concerned with other's opinions, etc…) in "The Freedom to Recover".
Finally, there are some people for whom being "alone" just isn't that big a deal. My dad was one
of those guys. He was so busy with projects, self-improvement, hobbies, etc… that he never was
lonely when he was alone. Most of us aren't like that though. That being said, the more outside
interests you have, goals, passions and the like, the less daunting spending time with yourself is
likely to be.Keep learning and evolving and this thing called life can become a joy instead something to simply endure.