I just got home from a meeting and it was wonderful. So many hands up that we ran out of time and there were still more wanting to share. It's funny, I had some things I wanted to share about, but another gal got her hand up first and beat me to it, saying pretty much everything I wanted to talk about, haha! That'll teach me to hesitate!
Our topic was loneliness, which is an excellent one for any alcoholic. For me, drinking was my ticket out of loneliness, or so I thought. I was lonely in high school, even though I had a few friends, I didn't feel like I had anyone I really could trust in a meaningful way. I only had one boyfriend for a short time during those years, so I felt the loneliness of being single very deeply. I felt unacceptable, unlovable, unwanted. Some of this was based on reality, but much was also based on my own perceptions.
When I went to college, I was determined to 'fit in' no matter what, and alcohol became my way to do that. It did work for a long time, giving me the illusion of acceptance and friendships. But what had saved me from loneliness was only destined to bring me back to it, as my alcoholism grew and I began to self-destruct and alienate the people around me. I tried harder and harder, while drinking more and more, until I was utterly alone. My friends didn't have much to say to me. A man that I cared deeply for graduated and moved to another state. I would lay in my bed, playing the soundtrack to The Highlander, crying into my pillow, night after night. How utterly pathetic and self-indulgent. I could have reached out and talked to someone. I could have tried to make friends, by actually listening to other people and hearing what THEY had to say. But loneliness became my crutch, my way of excusing my behavior. I could sit on my pity pot as long as I wanted, because after all, everyone had rejected me.
Fast forward to my sobriety. For a long time I would come to the rooms and still feel lonely. I would see other women around me who had obvious bonds with one another, but couldn't make those bonds myself. I chose for a long time to come right when the meeting started, and leave right when it ended, and then feel sorry for myself because no one even noticed me. Ridiculous! It's a good thing that ultimately I let God have the final say, because He had quite the wake up call in store for me. The truth was that all those years I CHOSE to be lonely. I CHOSE to be alone. I could have done the hard work required to be a friend. I could have spoken up in meetings, stayed late to talk to other people, gotten phone numbers so I would have someone to talk to. I deceived myself for a long time into thinking that I was unacceptable to other people. I wanted to believe that, because it was safer than taking the chance, putting myself out there, and risking being rejected. What a sorry way to live.
I go to meetings early now. I try to get my hand up once in a while. (still working on that one!) I talk to other people after the meeting. I have the numbers of other alcoholics in my phone. I open myself up to others and am willing to take that risk because I finally learned that it's ok to be vulnerable to people who care about me. I know I may get hurt at times, but it's better to feel the pain once in a while, than bear the pain of loneliness all the time.