Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Loneliness in 12 Step
Loneliness, even in a crowded room, even in the midst
of a support group like the 12 Steps, is something
that eats away at me. It is a constant battle of mine,
due to geography, ideology, and who knows what
else. How do you handle it when it occurs?
Especially when, if you mention it at group, people
just say useless shit like "If you have Jesus, you're
Here are some things that I, as a writer and obsessive,
have come to figure out for myself. It may illuminate,
or it may further frustrate, or it may simply make you
feel better when you go to bed tonight and think
"Thank not-Christ I'm not as loony as that pop-tart!")
Telling the truth...being genuine....knowing yourself...
is all a very lonely game. It's the nature of the beast.
Society 'works' (even to the degree it does, through
simple self-propulsion) as a result of most people
gladly (or reluctantly) choosing to be sheep. If you
use reason, express independence, etc., not only
do most people not understand it--they are terrified
In a group like AA-proper (or, to be fair--any group,
by its nature) you are going to face chastisement and
snubs when you alter from the prescribed course in
any fashion or by any degree. Isolation, punishment,
etc are means of making people come around to
acting/thinking the same.
I have also learned not to believe everything I hear
or see. People say they are ecstatic about their
God and what He has done in their life, etc etc....
Have you ever really looked at these people? Truly
watched them, especially when they are not in the
spotlight? I have. And I have talked to them after
meetings, when the Kool-aid wears off,
or on down days, when they admit things.
The God concept is a band-aid, and the band-aid
doesn't always stick. But just like any indoctrination,
religious folks can't admit that there is a crack or a
flaw or a lapse in their 'reasoning/faith' of they will
not only have everything they have spent time and
energy on collapse, they KNOW they will no longer
have the illusion of camaraderie that exists when they
'go along with the pack.'
There is serious pain, loneliness, fear, and doubt in
the hearts of even the most fervent believers. Think
about this; because they have no one in their circle
they can feel safe admitting their 'heresy' to, how
alone do you think they must feel?
I had a married friend once who confided how
lonely he was. I was sitting there envying him his
beautiful family, his home, the security of this
idealized life; he was feeling like he was missing
out on friendships because he couldn't socialize
due to family obligation. No matter who we
are; the grass is always greener.
And we simply don't know what is going on in
people's heads; this goes back to comparing
other people's outsides to my insides. Simple, simple
statement, and oh-so powerful. That is something
we alcoholics are all guilty of, I think. Comparisons
are odious, and they lead to further isolation.
(How's that for a kick in the rubber parts? We
start off in depression and we look at our
illusion/interpretation of reality--which is in fact
other people feeling depressed and lonely too,
but coping in different ways--and what we
think we see makes us more depressed, and
actually can cause us to isolate further, manifesting
the situation we feared most!)
Write about it, talk about it (maybe one-on-one,
consider what others lives are really comprised
of, read from people outside AA...these things
all helped me to realize how universal loneliness
is. The book 'Man Alone' is incredible! (It's still
around) with essays about the nature of man's
even as he desires social connection, and these
were essays written 5 and 6 decades ago...still
relevant today. But lots of writers--whose job it is
to take the human condition and explore and put it
to page--have deftly articulated this searching that
we all--even practicing Christians--feel and live with.
Don't let the denial and promotion of an ideal
self fool you. Everybody--even in AA meetings--
is trying to keep up with the Joneses. There are
people in that group who look and act miserable,
but every time they open their mouth it's the
Hallelujah Chorus, and I hardly ever hear them
talk of anything REAL or NEW; it's all endless
program-speak and hyperbole. Don't buy it!
That kind of perfection-seeking, both in self
and those around us, is what causes people to end
up with the business end of a gun held to their head.
Okay...ramble done, I think. That's my take on it,
anyway, for good or bad. You're not alone. Don't
let others' in-genuine actions and your own mind
convince you otherwise.
Sometimes people say how wonderful their
lives are so they can convince themselves.
God bless 'em.