shellI was at a recovery meeting today and the topic was isolating. Needless to say everyone could relate to this because as alcoholics and addicts we tend to do this a lot. For me, at the end of my drinking career, when I’d lost all my friends and no one in their right mind would drink with me, I was accustomed to being alone. In fact, all I wanted was to be left alone, I’d pretty much barricade myself in my apartment with a bottle of vodka and all would be right with the world. Except that it wasn’t.

Now that I’m sober I still struggle with wanting to be alone. My excuse is that I avoid being around people because they annoy me. I want my own space and God forbid someone should cross that line and get in my personal space because I basically (internally) lose my shit. It can be as simple as someone standing too close to me in a grocery store checkout line. I want to explain to them that standing within an inch or two from my back is not going to get them to the front of the line any quicker – I’m still in front of them, so back the f**k off!

I can be in a movie theatre, settled into my seat and I’ll see them, the family of four or the gaggle of teenage girls walk around the corner and invariably choose the seats directly behind me when there’s almost an empty theatre. All the while, I’m quietly repeating to myself, ‘don’t do it, don’t sit there, don’t’…until they do. The same with airplanes, I’ll sit in my seat, iPod securely in my ears, looking intently at the in-flight magazine, hoping that if I just don’t give them eye contact, they won’t sit next to me. Silently chanting, ‘not you, not you, not you!’ until the inevitable happens and the seat gets occupied. Why I think no one will sit there on a sold out flight is beyond me, but I still hold out hope that I’ll be the only one left sitting alone.

I tell myself, I can’t help the way I am. I’m no good at small talk; loud people bother me, I’d clip the wings of every social butterfly with a sharp pair of scissors if I could. Why? The truth is; I’m jealous of other people being comfortable in their own skin, people who can chat successfully to a total stranger bother me because I can’t. I feel inferior. In a room full of people I can feel completely alone – no one wants to hear what I have to say, they’ll laugh or criticize me and I can’t have that. I’m different and no one gets me. My disease fills me with these ideas and thoughts so it can keep me alone, so that I won’t seek help, so that I’ll drink again.

My disease will continue to tell me that I’m different until I share in a room full of recovering alcoholics as they sit nodding in agreement. They even come up to me after the meeting and say, “I do that too! Oh my God, the movie theatre is the worst and supermarkets piss me off so much that I go there at 11pm just to avoid the people! That’s when I know I’m in the right place and I’m not so different and unique after all.

If you are new to sobriety and find that you are isolating, try going to a meeting, share your irrational thoughts, fears and pet peeves and you might just be surprised at how many people there feel exactly the same way as you do.

  1. Andy says:

    Just thought I’d drop a quick note after reading all (I think all) your blog entries to let you know I think they are really helpful, motivational and pleasantly readable.
    Well done and thanks!

  2. Georgia W. says:

    Hey Andy,
    Great to hear that you like the blog! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, I appreciate the feedback.

  3. Dave G says:

    Great article. Even after 12 years of sobriety the desire to be left alone is there. I believe there are times when it is healthy to have some solitude, but I have to work to make sure I keep a balance. Meetings are a great place to start and from there the friendships I have developed in the program.


    • Georgia W. says:

      Thanks for sharing Dave, I felt like no one could relate to me until I went to a meeting and met all these people who thought the same way I did, then I knew I was in the right place.

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks for the good read! My best friend has finally decided that it’s time for her to change her life around and get sober. I’m her biggest fan when it comes to this…She mentioned that besides doing it for herself, she’s also wants to do it for me as well…That’s how close we are. I told her it’d be the toughest thing she has ever done in her life, but I vowed to be there every step of the way as I also am.

    She’s started going to meetings and is a week sober, but now she’s isolating herself from me. And I understand she’s going through hell in this proccess that she has begun. I’m just not used to not being there for her, as I always am. I feel in the dark in a way…Wondering why she doesn’t want me to be there for her through this very difficult process when she very well knows I want to be there for her!

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