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The Importance of Making Connections In Sobriety

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The Importance of Making Connections In Sobriety
The Importance of Making Connections In Sobriety

Making connections in sobriety is important to me today. That fact was reiterated by an article by Jonathan Davis titled “The Opposite of Addiction is Connection”. In this article, he cites studies by Johann Harri, and Dr. Gabor Mate, on the relation between addiction recovery and connection.

 

Some of my favorite humans

 

Jonathan also states in his article that “Trauma is well-known to cause interruption to healthy neural wiring, in both the developing and mature brain. A deeper issue here is that people who have suffered trauma, particularly children, can be left with an underlying sense that the world is no longer safe, or that people can no longer be trusted.”

I found the article insightful about my own sobriety, and the importance of connecting with others in recovery.

Disconnection

Up until the time I got sober, I couldn’t make lasting connections with other people. Especially people my own age. I never felt comfortable around other people. I couldn’t carry a conversation. And when I did, I was constantly thinking about what I said. “Did that sound okay?” “Did I offend them?” “Do they think I’m a blubbering idiot?” I was insecure.

After going through my own trauma as a child, I found alcohol to be a good coping mechanism. Lack of love from my dad at home played a part. My mom fighting demons of her own, and not being able to be there for us. Me playing the mom role for my little sister. Being bullied off and on throughout my school years. That was my trauma. I was wise beyond my years and I didn’t know how to cope with it. When I was older, dealing with the death of my mother created more trauma.

Since I never learned how to deal with my feelings, and was never able to work through that trauma, I covered it up with alcohol. I found out alcohol covered up the sense of insecurity. Alcohol gave me confidence, and it helped me forget the pain I was feeling. It was a cure-all for everything in my life.

In time though, alcohol made it impossible to interact with other people. I developed a paranoia that everyone was against me. I couldn’t trust anyone.

During the months prior to getting sober, I had pushed everyone away, and became an isolated drinker. I thought isolating myself from the outside world was the answer to my woes. I thought if I didn’t interact with anyone, I couldn’t get hurt, and I wouldn’t have to feel any new pain. Turns out, that only made things worse.

Much to my surprise, the therapist that did my alcohol evaluation thought so too. He wrote in my evaluation that I would not stay sober unless I had a sober support system.

 

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” – Johann Harri

 

Re-connecting With People

When I first got sober, I surrounded myself with other sober people. I slowly re-built my self-esteem, and I learned how to trust people again. But, my alcoholic brain didn’t like that. It kept trying to come up with ways to get me isolated again. Still does to this day.

Thoughts like “It’s been a long day. I’m really tired. I think I’ll skip the meeting tonight” pop up. Or, “I have so much on my to-do list right now. It won’t hurt if I skip the meeting tonight.”

The problem with thoughts like that is, once I skip one meeting, it becomes easier to skip more. Next thing I know, my brain has convinced me that I don’t need meetings. I don’t need to connect with other humans. And, when thoughts like that come up, I know I’m in trouble.

I Need Other Humans

The hardest realization I’ve come to in sobriety is, I need other humans in my life. It’s hard because I’m an introvert. Quiet alone time is a must for me. But too much quiet alone time is a recipe for disaster too. So, I have to find a balance. Take regular time-outs to re-charge, but also make time for human connection.

Having a sponsor/ mentor is also a must for me. My mentor is my go-to person. I don’t know what I would have done without him honestly. He’s listened to my fears, insecurities, and confessions of dumb things I’ve done. But, he’s also stuck with me through good times and bad, and helped me re-build my trust in other humans. If I could suggest one thing above all else, get a sponsor/ mentor.

Another important aspect of connection for me is sharing with others. I have to share my experience, strength, and hope with other alcoholics. I can’t keep it all for myself. In sharing and giving away what I’ve learned, I help someone else. And, giving it away also keeps me sober.

So, the most important thing I’ve learned in sobriety is, make lasting connections. It’s not always easy, but it is vital for lasting emotional sobriety.

Originally published September 21, 2016 – medium.com

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