Isolation vs. Connection in Recovery


The picture of isolation – the welcome mat is buried beneath the snow…


Last year at this time, I was living in a remote cabin in the Georgia mountains. One of those rough hewn places, with a wall-of-fieldstone great room people from Florida find charming for a short while… I was communicating with a newly sober Nick several times a day by email, and ducking the advances of “Neighbor Bob,” a backwoods lothario who was persistent but unrequited in his attempts to “take me to town for some grub.” There was no cell service, no mail delivery and my only human contact (other than Bob’s hale shouts of, “Hey kid!” through the trees whenever I ventured out) was twenty minutes away in Hiawassee.


I have been thinking of my wilderness community quite a bit lately, because I have decided that my move to the boonies, for six months during the most brutal time of year, was a last ditch attempt to isolate and give myself an out if I wanted to start drinking again. Who would know? The bears who peeked in the windows occasionally like the Goldilocks story in reverse? The neighbors who included a self proclaimed mixologist, a hilltop luthier, a primitive artist or two and Bob (who was, to let you in on a little secret, a bit of a boozer himself)?


The opposite of connection…


My most natural, go-to condition is aloneness. Don’t feel sorry for me – I like to be alone. In fact I need to be by myself to recharge, especially after a long period of time where I have to be sociable, talkative or interested in what others have to say. By now you all know that solitude is not conducive to recovery. In fact the brilliant Johann Hari says, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection,” but connection has always been hard for me to embrace.


Sometimes I have to force myself to get out the door, but the routine –  the act of taking a shower, dressing and going to a meeting, class, appointment or my job – is what keeps me on track. I still relish my time alone, but I find that if I isolate for long, the dangerous chorus of depression, cravings and low grade despair begins to drown out the positive thoughts in my head.


So don’t do that okay? Don’t isolate. Find your connection. There is joy in community. Safety in numbers…


Today I’m not drinking because I am making a connection.


How come you’re not drinking?