Feeling lonely is one of the most misunderstood emotions of an addict, in my humble opinion.
For me these feelings come from a sense of not being good enough to fit into my environment. Or even just not relating to the people I am with, rather than just accepting that I see things slightly differently to them, I will feel alienated and different. Then my defenses come up and that equates into loneliness.
Loneliness is an emotion that then allows for self-pity, self loathing and then it almost opens up the gateway to allowing you to self harm and pick up your addiction. As addiction is mid altering is creates a different sense and almost feels like your best friend. It’s that one thing that “gets you” and “understands you”.
The biggest problem with substance you are addicted to is that your addiction brain wants you to be on your own, and bear with me here I know that sounds strange.
As an addict if I feel under attack I instantly go on the defensive as I don’t have the tools that are needed to see what I have maybe done wrong (or right in a lot of cases). I don’t believe in myself enough to accept praise or criticism. My brain doesn’t process the information and then leads to a feeling of not understanding.
Not understanding then makes me feel vulnerable and so my addict brain decides I need to change that by using my substance of choice to change how I feel. If I am in company I am less likely to pick up a drink, and you can now see why I might say my addiction wants me to be alone.
Now in recovery this becomes interesting as you suddenly don’t have the substance of choice and therefore need to sit with these feelings. I can veer off onto other mind altering substances like food or my phone (never exercise which is really annoying). A lot of alcoholics have dual addictions ie drugs, food, gambling, sex etc…
Once we rid our brain of all of these we then are left feeling quite vulnerable and exposed as we have a clear view of ourselves. Whether or perspective is right our wrong it is still how we feel and no amount of words from anyone else can change that.
I have sat in social situations and felt completely at ease, content and having a nice time. Then, for no apparent reason, that can change and I feel different, isolated and lonely. Other people are interacting with each other a lot more comfortably than me, then I feel like I can’t interject as they wouldn’t be interested in what I have to say and on it goes.
AA has taught me a very simple strategy for this and it’s an exit plan. The strongest lesson for anyone new. Always have a plan to either be able to leave or make your excuses for a short time. That could include just going to the toilet to collect your thoughts or contact another member of the fellowship.
So going back to loneliness. It is a self-created emotion that, I feel, means I cannot accept the environment I am in. I am always craving something when I feel like this and I am now learning that I can fulfil this need in myself.