I am very familiar with isolation. I began to isolate myself when I was drinking and didn’t even realize it. It happened so slowly, over a period of months and years. Drinking relieved my pain and stress temporarily, but ended up robbing me of my happiness and feeling of joy in the long term. My addiction to alcohol started to pull me away from my own life that I had worked so hard to build and the people that I loved so much in it.
I got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t have any fun or feel any joy without alcohol. Go have coffee with a friend? Forget it. Go to an event that didn’t serve booze? Why would I do that? Enjoy one of my son’s 3 hour baseball games…it was a struggle without alcohol. If I “had” to do any of these things, there better be a drink as a reward at the end for enduring them. I “need” a drink became all but true for me.
I wasn’t enjoying my life anymore, I was enduring my life until I could drink again. The reward system in my brain was so messed up, a physiologic change that happens with addiction. It was hard for me to feel excitement, joy, love, peace, happiness…all of the good things in life without alcohol. I found myself schlepping through my days, getting them done so that I could reward myself for all the work I put in. When I wasn’t drinking, everything felt like work to me.
That’s why I started very, very slowly isolating myself. I started pulling back and not engaging in normal activities that I should find joy in and started turning toward a wine bottle instead. My life, naturally, could not compete with an addictive drug that gave me the high that I so desperately started to crave. That drug gave me an escape room I could visit every day.
Subconsciously, I felt dirty and bad and guilty and shameful for doing this. What does someone do when they feel all of these horrible feelings? They start hiding. So that’s what I did. I started hiding and isolating myself with the one thing that made me feel good and “normal”, the booze. There, I could drink the way I wanted to drink, feel the way I wanted to feel and do it without hurting anyone else, right? Wrong.
Since I quit drinking alcohol, the natural feelings of hope, happiness, excitement and peace have found their way back into my daily experience. Slowly, my brain has remembered that getting together with a good friend for coffee can feel really good. Slowly, my brain has started to remember that watching my son play baseball fills my heart with joy.
I am healing and slowly starting to live a life that I don’t want to escape from. Today, I am so grateful to be sober.