When I first decided to quit drinking I didn’t head out to a meeting, I set my alarm for five o’clock in the morning and got up to write. I also had a pen pal I wrote to every day, but it took me several months before I talked to another sober person face to face. I joined an ongoing women’s recovery group that was such a pleasant surprise. (wow! other sober people!) It brought understanding and relief. But I ended up quitting because other group members had interpersonal struggles and the group leader let things get way out of hand. My pen pal and I had a disagreement about anonymity and she stopped speaking to me. That was back a few years ago. I have yet to form any close recovery relationships again.
Alcohol didn’t teach me a lot about friendships. I did fucked up things like have sex with a friend’s boyfriend, pick fights for no real reason, or just act odd in general when I was drunk. That created distrust, but since I never let anyone too close to me the stakes didn’t feel that high. I come from a family who doesn’t trust or nurture so I never really felt comfortable when someone was nice to me. It still feels confusing and weird when people care for me.
Sometimes I think I pushed the envelope to see if anyone would ever get really mad at me, and it seems like they never did. Instead we just drifted apart either from hurt on their part or disappointment on mine. How was I supposed to save our friendship and redeem myself if someone didn’t get furious with me and want to dump me as a friend? Did that mean they really didn’t need me that much anyway? Could anyone have ever loved me enough?
Community is something I’m trying to figure out. Recovery seems harder this year than last year. It feels like instead of getting easier to navigate things are getting like fifty thousand times harder. Which feels totally unfair. Logically I know that I’m moving into deeper places because I’ve learned the basics, but shit. Now that things are getting hard and I need people to reach out to I’m aware I’ve put my words out there, but I haven’t really put my self out there. I have close friends, but none of them are part of the recovery community. I’m realizing I need that.
I am not part of a recovery “method”. I have made my recovery from lots of parts on my own because that’s what has worked for me. I’m starting to think about the aloneness that comes along with that.
People in early recovery are so open to communication and looking for connection, but then as you get further along things seem to boil down and get more intimate.The ways in seem a lot harder. I got burned in my early recovery; I was belittled or ditched when I was brave and stood up for my own beliefs. Both of these things hurt me deeply. I didn’t go back out there to the community wholeheartedly. I am anxious about the vulnerability of connection.
On the other side of all that is this: as I open the world opens. It’s awfully hard to make connection when I’m a wall and not an outlet. I remember about myself that I like to use magical thinking sometimes. You know, the kind where I want to lose twenty pounds and then *poof * it just comes true? Without any real effort or struggle or actual trying? There’s magical world where my inbox is full of thoughtful emails to answer. Where I get phone calls from people whose calls I’d actually answer. But in reality I haven’t actually made the effort to manifest those friendships. In my imagination all this just plops in my lap and I wake up one morning with a sigh of relief, ah finally. Just like my perfect outfit dreams in junior high school that seemed so real until I woke up.
The reason I do all of the things I do is to disarm myself, not to build even more armor. Connection in long term recovery can be hard, but I’m getting that it’s as hard as I make it. (Which, annoyingly, is pretty much true about everything. Dammit.) 🙂