Keeping myself busy early on in the program was one of the best ways I knew to keep sober. I was a maintenance drinker; always looking for reasons to escape and isolate. And if a decent reason couldn’t be found, I’d make one up, i.e., whip up a bunch of drama in order to walk away from it disgusted and demoralized. I was doing everyone a favor by leaving. My disease viewed this as a win-win.
Now that the plug is back in the jug, I still find myself craving alone time far beyond what’s rational. I want to be alone, solitary, closed off, because that’s how I dealt with life back when I was a teenager, before the drinking. I’d been ostracized, banished, sent out to live on the fringe of society. I learned that I didn’t fit in, nobody wanted me around, and I slowly began to not only accept this as my lot in life, but also to own it. To celebrate it. To rationalize and justify it.
That’s what worked then, and I carried that defense mechanism over into my adult alcoholism. It was a perfect match: I needed to drink in secret, and I’d convinced myself that I loved being alone. Another win-win.
But it doesn’t work anymore, hasn’t for years, and it doesn’t need to. My practice of running off by myself should’ve died the day I graduated high school. Moving forward in life I was surround by all new people, places and things, yet I found myself applying my same old self-sabotaging to new situations. There was no excuse for it anymore; now I was just moody and distant because that’s what I’d taught myself.
Today: With each and every interaction, I need to be mindful that people aren’t out to get me, or belittle me, or laugh at me, or whatever else my disease likes to make me believe in order to push me over into the dark side.
Exercise: Pay attention to others. See how they aren’t judging me? See how they are actually helpful? People want to get along, and they aren’t all that interested in what I think is wrong with me. And after the interaction, make a note as to how it went. Odds are, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and working the program, things probably went okay. Hell, it might have even be positive.