Isolation and Loneliness
I am grateful to be here today with GROW and celebrate an AA birthday. I recently came back to the rooms after 25 years away. This came about as the result of circumstances I was in. I did not drink. I never stopped living according to AA.principles. But I began to experience the most painful case of isolation and loneliness I ever thought possible. I simply could not stop crying. These feelings were ever-present when I had been drinking too I know. In fact, the Big Book says:
What are we likely to receive from Step Five? For one thing, we shall get rid of that terrible sense of isolation we’ve always had. Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. * * AA World Services Inc. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p. 57).
Isolation serves a purpose for the drinker, No one will see, stop or judge us on how much we drink. We don’t have time for anything else but drinking. We had drinking ‘friends’ but they are long gone. We can stay in our heads. As a friend used to tell me, ‘ When we are in our heads we are behind enemy lines.’ We can easily neglect ourselves and our home because no one will see us. And in a certain way we are saying, Don’t bother me–I need to feel sorry for myself right now. Or, I have to rage and nurse a resentment–I’ll get back to you. Of course, we won’t.
It is rare that isolation isn’t coupled with loneliness. We deny it, but there is a huge hole inside of us and when we were drinking, we thought alcohol could heal the ulcer. Of course it didn’t work. It got worse. We are social beings. We need other human beings. A god of my understanding was rarely even a thought! There is no such thing as we can do it all ourselves. The power of a group is much greater than that of an individual. Our human and spiritual sides atrophy and cause the pain of loneliness. Despite our isolation perhaps, we look everywhere to dismiss the loneliness. These really are the underpinnings for setting us alcoholics up for failure. We refuse to see the connection. Talking through my tears, I actually fought coming back to the rooms. Really, go figure!
I gave little or no attention to a Higher Power. He did stay on the side waiting for me to make a move and ask Him for help all through this time. I was not used to interacting with people. I surely wasn’t used to smiling or thinking about someone else. I came to realize how my unshared emotional pain and isolation were wallowing–selfish–and digging me into a deep hole. First I came to GROW and then found a f2f meeting. The funny part of this all is that I was so SURPRISED how much better I felt back in the rooms. Btw, I was told not to waste a lot of time looking for my Higher Power because He wasn’t hiding!
One last note. Let me offer one caveat. The ‘craving’ for isolation is not lifted like the craving for alcohol. It sneaks up on us and we may not attend meetings. We have all the denial we had when we were drinking. While I had not been hiding, I needed to be here no matter what in my life impeded me. I will keep coming back. I am grateful I found a way to do it. My sponsor has made this clear. In no way do I recommend the path I took to return to the rooms. I was blessed to have survived.
Please share on this topic ISOLATION AND LONELINESS or on any other topic from your experience, strength, and hope. We are glad most of all that you are here.
hgz, b. dos 9/21/83