|Forum Home > Healing After Leaving AA > Loneliness Vs. being alone|
Pretty much everybody on the planet has at one time or another experienced a 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 depression.
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.