This could be my biggest character defect: Isolation.  The pushing away from society’s table.  Here’s a perfectly ordinary example: The other day at work, I’m hungry and the building’s downstairs cafe was closed.  A coworker suggested a small convenience store tucked away in an alcove on the first floor that sells drinks and snacks.  It’s just around the corner from the front desk.  “I didn’t even know that existed!”  I said.  “Huh.  Thanks for telling me.  I will definitely check that out.”

I have never checked that out.  Probably never will.  It’s for the other people who work in the building.

Step 6: were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

What’s that about?  I’m also among the last to arrive at a retirement luncheon being held in the kitchen.  If it starts at noon, I’ll leave the building around 11:30, come back an hour later, walk through the empty office to my desk, check email, and then go grab a plate while others are finishing.

When isolation isn’t possible, run with avoidance.  Same thing happens with family and friends.  Shouldn’t my guts understand the difference between attending a two-hour performance review with my supervisor and hanging out at a lifelong buddy’s house, cooking up burgers in the sun?  Seems simple enough: one’s stressful, the other’s not.  In fact, one of those is the opposite of stressful.

Well, tell that to my alcoholism.  Because all the same fears, inadequacies and self-loathing get triggered before each.  All events were cause for preemptive fortification, the good and the bad.

Which, think about it, has nothing to do with my alcoholism.  Perceiving everything a fear goes back to kindergarten.  Booze only showed up later, and was able to make the bad situations seem tolerable, and then convinced me that the same approach should be used on the fun stuff.  Then it became habit, followed by all I knew, even when I knew it was destroying me.

It’s like that nightmare scenario of being awake for the operation.  I am walking quietly among you, screaming at the top of my lungs, head on fire, breathing in and out, smiling and nodding, until it’s isolation time again.  And the isolation times kept stretching.

What it’s like now:  The need for alone time still exists.  Meditation, reading, watching the game, kicking around in the garage: all fine activities.  But it can’t be isolation, because isolation comes with resentments and worst-case scenarios and behind-my-back plotting that I must always be vigilant of.  In short, my isolation is when I give my disease its fair say.

Today:  Truly know that there’s nothing fair about it.  Therefore, avoid times of isolation at all costs.

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