Addiction Recovery: Isolation and Loneliness
Today’s topic is about how we disconnect in multiple ways, why we do it, the results, and how to reconnect to ourselves and the world.
The issues I tackle are specific to the struggles addicts deal with after recovery. This is not talked about a lot in public media I have found. Perhaps this is why I have been given a voice, I like to think so anyways.
Isolation is interesting because it’s something that for the most part is self inflicted. I remember for me when I was at the pinnacle of my eating disorder and drug use, I used to like to hide. I would have this overwhelming urge to close the curtains and just be with myself, but not in a productive zen, meditative way. Rather it was more of a seething, destructive spin cycle punishment way. During those times you know the character Golem from Lord of the Rings, that’s how disgusting I felt on the inside.
I didn’t want people to see me in this state, but I also desperately did not want to be alone. Isolation and loneliness are like that.
On the same thread, I wanted people to desperately like me, strangers, friends, all kinds of people. So I would distort myself as much as it took for a wink of acceptance, always feeling like a fraud, always feeling like I was walking on eggshells. This closed me so airtight to myself, that I felt isolated and alone even if I was surrounded by people, even if I had a man laying next to me in bed. My life was constant loneliness because of the self inflicted, internal isolation. I believe that is where the feeling of loneliness comes from. Of course if we feel lonely we will match the feeling in our actions to prove the thought, or hide the shame.
So the results from being lonely for too long can be multiple things. For sure we kind of forget who we are. We forget the pleasant feelings that make us feel special and we project this fragile image of ourselves out in the world without substance or with insecurity, and finally anger if anyone tries to shatter that false image of ourselves. Everyone is different, but this is what I have seen and felt in coaching.
I had one client in particular that would get so angry when I tried to get to the root of her issues. She would lash out at me a bit so it was touch and go for me as a coach. She got angry when I tried to peel back the layers so we could both see who she really was. I could see past the layers with clarity and there was something so beautiful on the inside, a shining gem, but she thought the layers were her and so she would isolate herself and hate on herself.
I have mentioned in prior podcasts about self love and why it is so important so we feel safe to shed our armor and it really is a necessary step in stepping back into your power. I mean, why would you want to connect with something you hate, dislike, or that causes disgust? So remembering that we are not our minds, we are not our body, and we are not our thoughts is key for this process of connecting again.
One technique I have used with myself and clients to reconnect to themselves is the mirror exercise. There are different levels of this mirror exercise. The first one is that you can look in a bathroom mirror that goes up maybe to your collarbones and just look at yourself starting with about a minute and deep breathing. For some of my clients that’s all they can take. During that time you withhold judgement and opinions and just see yourself. You can increase after a few days to a week and bump it up to two minutes until you are at a solid five minutes. Once you get past five minutes of really seeing yourself, then we can start to pick out the things that you like about yourself or perhaps by this point, that you love about yourself.
The next level of this exercise or for the client was ready, they sit in front of a full length mirror in a chair or on the ground. They look at themselves in the eyes, but they taken also the peripheral scope of their entire being. Same rules apply in the same timeframe.
The final level of this mirror exercise is to sit or stand in front of a full length mirror naked. I don’t recommend starting with this one especially if you had been in the mode of isolation for a long time because it might be a little bit too much to take in.
Typically this is one we work up to.
With all of the exercises you can also add in taking your fingers and pressing on your heart so you can connect with your body and that might help as well.
So this exercise works deeply at first on a logical level, and then a subconscious level, and then a spiritual level. You will find that you feel less lonely. It’s almost like if you have a single parakeet in a cage, and you put it in there inside of it, the parakeet think of it as a friend. Please recognize I know you were so much more than a parakeet, but the thought of it does keep this exercise lighthearted.
The effects of this exercise is that after a while when you look at yourself rather than the feeling of pain, you will start to get a feeling of relief, and comfort because you know that you’re showing up for yourself. If you are there for yourself in your corner, you will start to allow others to be there as well.
If you are interested in one on one coaching, I have a few spaces left in my schedule. Email Erin at Erin@ErinCoach.com