Today’s been an inextricably tough day for me for some reason. I woke up this morning and lay in bed thinking of every imaginable reason for not going to work and then once I had lulled myself into a completely negative frame of mind I finally got up, dressed up and showed up. To be honest I should have looked harder into the excuse bank and just laughed today off. And then I spent all morning trying to get rid of my sullen moodiness, which of course only made it worse. Trying to push emotions away tends to lead to them swinging back even more forcefully and overwhelming you. In the coaching course I am studying and the work I do with my coach and tutor, they advocate acknowledging these “negative” feelings and trying to find the positive that they are trying to bring you. If I’d spent a few minutes doing that this morning as is becoming more habitual I would have honoured that is has been a very tough 12 weeks away from home, with no festive season celebrations and no tactile closeness in my life for three months, I’d have given myself a bit of a break.
This is part of the reality of my life at the moment. I live a long way from home and work with people, most of whom I’ve known less than a year and I am simply lonely. This isn’t the kind of lonely that I experienced when I was drinking, and I’d close myself off from people because I was embarrassed by something I’d done at a party. This is the kind of loneliness that can only be remedied when someone you truly love puts their arms around you and just holds you until you are ready to move. So I guess it’s more of a physical longing to be close to people I love. There is no shortage of communication with home, but a virtual hug just doesn’t come close to the real thing. And there were plenty of times during my years of drinking that I could be in a crowded bar and feel completely alone, and that’s the scariest feeling in the world.
So this morning instead of acknowledging my feelings of loneliness I tried to push them aside and as the day wore on they eventually came crashing down on my head, leaving me emotional and anxious. Had I simply embraced the feeling for a while earlier in the day, acknowledged and accepted its existence in me, my day would have been a lot smoother. But I got overwrought and along with that came an episode of serious self doubt. It’s a roller coaster really and one that years of addiction means I am less able to cope with than people who have faced their personal demons stone cold sober and wrangled with them. The problem with the easy accessibility of alcohol is that when I’d get into these situations where I needed to deal with personal and emotional issues I’d simply do it by having a drink and then all sorts of important issues would be sidelined.
And one of these things is that I’ve always been a little afraid of being alone. As a child I slept with a night light and even in adulthood I don’t really like being by myself for long periods of time. So drinking allowed me the opportunity to go out and be with people. Now I have to deal with my solitude because I don’t hang out in bars anymore and without the dulling of my personal inhibitions I’m not as confident as I used to be in social settings. Coupled with my isolated working environment at the moment and the fact that I live alone, I’m bound to feel a little removed at times. It’s not going to last forever and in a few weeks I’m going to feel that strong embrace that I’ve been longing for.
The loneliness I experience in sobriety is so fleeting compared to the years of desolation I felt while I was drinking. Feeling like an outsider even when I was with the people who meant the most to me, but never really being comfortable within any given situation. Any sort of real intimacy was impossible while I was drinking and I’ve started to recently experience just how incredible true, honest intimacy can be. So even though I have had a day today where my loneliness was crippling because I didn’t look at how I was feeling, it is nothing compared to the years I wandered around feeling forlorn while I was caught in addiction. If only I hadn’t tried to fight against my feelings this morning as I fought against my addiction for so long, because pushing things away and trying to ignore them only allows them to gather strength and return even more powerful than they were initially.
So before I finish this post I just want to say that I am grateful that even though I may feel lonely at times there are incredible people in my life that love, support and encourage me as I journey through my new life with an open mind and an honest heart, and because of them I am not alone.
‘Til next time