We’ve always felt different from everyone. It might be because of trauma suffered as a child. It might be because of trauma suffered as an adult. Or it could be because of something physically, where we feel we look different. Whatever the case, we’ve suffered from a general feeling of being alone in the world, it seems like forever. This feeling of being alone generates both anxiety and depression in us. Because we feel different, we want to isolate ourselves. But the more we isolate ourselves, the more we feel alone. The more we feel alone, the more anxious and depressed we become, and we isolate even more.

Alcohol and drugs provide the great escape. When we’re using, all the feelings of being different and alone disappear – replaced with a feeling of euphoria in the moment. Suddenly we feel great about ourselves. We can escape into reverie and imagine we are someone else, somewhere else or in some other situation. The voice in our head, telling us we’re a reject goes silent, and is replaced by a voice telling us we’re amazing. We’re no longer stabbed by the spears from the voices of family or friends who have said bad things about us or done bad things to us. But once the alcohol/drugs start to wear off, we’re left feeling even more alone and isolated. The depression and anxiety we felt before comes back twice as bad, with a vengeance. We are so overcome with anxiety and depression, isolation and loneliness, that we desperately want it to go away immediately and the only relief seems to be with more alcohol/drugs.

Without even realizing what we’ve done, we find that we’ve completely pushed everyone out of our lives. We look around and find that we have lost everything to getting relief through alcohol/drugs. We’ve lost all our relationships, our jobs, homes, money, dignity, self-respect and our bodies. The feelings of being alone and being different are not just feelings now – they are reality. Everything and everybody is gone. It seems it’s that particular moment when successful recovery begins for many people. It was for me.

I had lost my marriage, family, friends, job and money to alcohol and drugs. In that moment, my feelings of wanting to isolate disappeared for the first time in my life. I was desperate to open my arms to literally anybody who would reach back. Although spawned by despair, it was liberating to no longer want to isolate. It was freeing to suddenly want other people. It felt amazing to find other people who had similar experiences and were also reaching out for the same reasons. For me that was the start of successful recovery.

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