M(3), 6/29/15: Loneliness Vs. Solitude

Today is the fifth Monday in the month of June, and I am at a point with my meetings that I dread months with 5 Mondays. Which, when you think about it, is beyond silly, since I am the only person that pays attention to the literature rotation from one Monday to the next.

So I stress about choosing a reading selection each time a fifth Monday pops up, I change my mind a whole bunch of times, and it always works out okay.  Just like today, when I switched at the last-minute and read from the book Came To Believe, a collection of stories, written by members of Alcoholics Anonymous, that describe how they came to find a God of their understanding.

A few things made the meeting exciting.  First, a gentleman who has come to be known as a regular attendee celebrated 90 days of sobriety, a huge milestone in this writer’s opinion!  Second, although we were on the low side of normal in terms of attendance, we ran out of time in terms of sharing.  Always the sign of a good meeting.

The topic that seemed to grab the attention of the majority was loneliness, and it’s counterpart, solitude.  By the chapter’s definition solitude is the joy of being alone, whereas loneliness describes the pain associated with aloneness.  Two sides of the same coin.  Most recovering alcoholics, at least most of whom I’ve heard share on this subject, directly relate the pain of loneliness to their drinking activity.  They experienced loneliness, whether by themselves, with family, or in a crowd of people, and so they drank to escape that feeling.  Initially, the effects of alcohol worked for a time, but in most cases wound up creating the isolation they drank to escape in the first place.  Many who shared today claimed this vicious cycle as their own, and added further that the lonely feeling was a lifelong one.

The chapter read this morning speaks of using alone time to our advantage rather than fearing it:  quiet reflection, taking our inventories, prayer and meditation.  In time, the author reports, we will anticipate with relish our solitude.

In the meeting, most reported a turnaround in thinking with respect to alone time.  Once a time to be restless and discontent, all who shared now look forward to quiet time to do all the suggestions listed above.

The 90-days-sober-attendee said he vacillates in his perspective of his alone time.  Some days, he can have a bad attitude about it, and reflect miserably that it’s another night spent alone while all of his friends are out socializing and doing all the things in which he used to be able to engage.  When his perspective is such, nothing makes him happy.  Other times, he looks forward to his alone time as a way to decompress and shut down his overactive brain.  He is hopeful that over time the latter attitude will come more naturally than the former.

Another gentleman, a 12-step long-timer and a religious professional, cites his lifestyle can be the perfect balance of both: he is required to spend time in prayer and meditation, and can head to his room anytime he needs solitude.  Conversely, his weekends are filled with hundreds of people when all is said and done, as he performs his ministerial duties.  Of course, he is human, and so once in a while the balance tips in favor of one or the other, but he is careful to keep that balance in check.

Another long-timer shared that he has a similar set of issues as the 90-days-sober attendee.  As a single man, some days he feels very alone, with no one to care for him.  Other days, he is deeply appreciative of the people who are in his life.  The important thing for him is that when he is feeling the pangs of loneliness, he must acknowledge and take action to correct so that it does not drag on indefinitely.  His active alcoholism, he remembers, was mired in loneliness, and he consciously drank to fill that hole of loneliness in his life.  His best remedy to correct?  A gratitude list, so simple and yet so powerful.  He reminds himself of how many good people are in his life, and that usually does the trick!

A sideline discussion came about in terms of whether you can feel connected in terms of computer usage; specifically, online connection.  Some felt that the connection derived from the internet is not an authentic one, and we are better served with live interaction, others felt that connecting anonymously with others is just as beneficial to their sobriety.

As a blogger for over 3 years, I imagine you all can guess which side of the debate I land.  Happy Monday to all!

Today’s Miracle:

The honor of handing the 90-day coin out this morning is a miracle I hope I never take for granted!

Posted on June 29, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Big Solitude fan here 😉 not enough alone time in my schedule these days. The online community has been a huge help for me, don’t know where I’d be without my sober blogging heroines and heroes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In active drinking I hated being alone if I wasn’t drinking. I could not stand myself. So full of self pity and anger. And when I drank I just felt lonely because I isolated myself, even if I was in a crowd. I feel like I have always felt “apart” from others…until recently.

    I now love being alone. I am comfortable in my skin. Yoga has really provided me with a method to see and still the chitter chatter in my mind. But this took a long time to develop.

    I am teaching yoga at the local recovery centre. Obviously being there is a stressful time. So I try to move the class along – slow enough to take some deep breaths, but not long enough to start ruminating. I think it’s helping. I always tell a bit of my own story, which seems to have give me credibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great service you are providing to the recovery centre. You are perfect for that job, because you understand where they are at in terms of recovery. Meditation has been woefully absent from my life since summer began, and I really want to get back to it. Reading this comment reminds me why I need it now more than ever!

      You have inspired me, Anne, and I thank you so much for this comment!


  3. Ps. I think online is a powerful tool. I’ve even had some Skype meetings with people. Why not?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Untipsyteacher

    It has been a hard road for me in retirement from teaching, going from a billion children and people to nothing.
    I have had to create a different world, at a different pace, and I am finally learning how to be alone and not lonely.
    I do have to make playmates each day with someone, so I get out of the house.
    I love my on-line community and my “real” people friends.
    My on-line community has supported me and made me laugh and cry!!
    My yoga peeps, my AA peeps, my blogger peeps, and me!

    Liked by 1 person

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