PREVIOUS: Loneliness in Recovery (#1)
See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
This type of Rec. Loneliness is healthy & to be expected (cont.):
Accept temporary Rec. loneliness of……
….. Re-evaluating all our relationships. This comes in stages, like everything else, first just being aware of the problem, then consider leaving the most blatantly inappropriate / abusive people, then eventually catching the subtle ways people are abusive, unavailable or just plain unsuitable for us, no matter how nice or good they are.
….. The actual ‘leaving’ comes in stages too. Some relationships just drift away, some people we have to have a talk with, some will not accept the loss & pursue us. And then there are the relationships we’ll keep falling back into – even when we know they not healthy for us, because the WIC is not ready to let go of them, so we’re conflicted. When the kid is sick & tired of being sick & tired – we move on – with little or no regret!
Accept temporary Rec. loneliness of……
….. Our increasing awareness:
— when someone is not ‘all there‘ – shut down, distracted, narcissistic, not available. We are truly alone with such people & we don’t like it!
— that we get confused when someone tries to ‘help’ us, but we still feel angry, alone, misunderstood. Sometimes this is because the WIC is not yet allowed to be helped by anyone, BUT more often – as long as we’re still dealing with anyone who is controlling, narcissistic, people-pleasing or a rescuer – we are legitimately picking up that the help or solicitousness offered is tainted. It’s being given for their benefit not ours. That leaves us alone – again!
— that in early Recovery we tend to idealize NEW support people or groups who are genuinely helpful, kind & gentle. This is the WIC seeing them as the Good Parent, rather than just healthier peers. As long as we idealize anyone we will be let down & disappointed when they don’t live up to our fantasies.
✶✶ However, for those of us whose parents are still alive – a very important & powerful Recovery experience is when we finally ‘get it’ that being with our unhealed family leaves us feeling very mentally & emotionally alone – no matter how nice they may be to us in the present. It’s not just our imagination or some flaw in us. It’s that they haven’t done the ‘work’ & are still shut down, still ‘active’, still self-centered…. so our connection is superficial. We want more but they’re simply not available.
Too fast: When we first become aware of how sick many of our long-term relationships are, some of us will want to get rid of everyone right away & perhaps start dumping our whole phone book. If the phone list is very recent that may be OK. But we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Ending all old relationships at once can be too overwhelming – leaving us bereft of any connections before we can replace them with more loving ones.
Very slowly: At the other extreme are those of us who take a very long time to process any decision to separate, especially regarding long-term relationships that were once important to us. We’re afraid of being disloyal (even tho they’re not worthy of it) & afraid of feeling the loss of our illusions about them, since we always knew there was something wrong but couldn’t admit it.
Emotional feelings from leaving inappropriate people can be sadness & brief loneliness, OR relief and healthy self-congratulation (which we’re not used to & not ‘allowed’ – we think it’s arrogant & selfish!)
Practical outcomes can be:
— short-term isolation, which we need to process such big changes, but not from fear, guilt, shame or S-H
— that some people we distance from can’t tolerate their own abandonment pain, so will keep bugging us : ”What happened? Where are you? Are you all right”? even after telling them you need space, or ending with a final good-buy. If you’re truly done, you don’t have to respond. We are not responsible for THEIR WIC, even tho we can understand & have compassion
— we’ll feel lighter & have more energy for our own life & pursuits
— having the space to add in more & more healthy suitable people/ places & things for ourselves
• Keep in mind Al-Anon’s 3 As: 1. Awareness 2. Acceptance & 3. Action.
It’s never healthy to jump from #1 to #3, which is what most ACoAs do automatically. We need to spend as much time in #2 as our psyche /WIC needs. Then the eventual Actions will likely be much healthier.
RECOVERING from childhood Loneliness
If we diligently stick to the growth process, we find that loneliness is no longer a major issue, because the emptiness is being willed with the Healthy Child, The Loving Parent, perhaps a Higher Power, appropriate companions & guides. In recovery more of the time we will feel connected & able to handle things, even when they’re rocky.
Occasionally we’ll still find ourselves lonely, as when we’re :
• with the wrong people, which taps into our old Abandonment pain
• outgrowing old ‘supports’, leaving behind (or limiting contact) people & locations we’ve had a very long time in our life, but that were not suitable, or just plain bad for us
moving on to each new level of personal growth, from “I don’t belong anywhere”—-> to —-> “I know who I am & I go where it’s warm”
NEXT: Recovery Loneliness – Part 3