A primary aspect of addiction is that of isolation. Isolation is our inability to connect emotionally and spiritually. Our isolation stems from other and/or self-inflicted pain. As our addiction worsens, our isolation intensifies to the point of feeling completely alone in the world. We are trapped in a bubble of self, being completely absorbed in our pain. The paradox is that we are dying from isolation while surrounded by many pleading to help.
Intimacy vs isolation
The opposite of isolation is intimacy. Those who can achieve intimacy with others do not have to use substances to cope with everyday life. When feeling overwhelmed by life, a person with intimate relationships turns to friends/family/Higher Power for understanding, support, and solutions. Whereas, the addict turns to alcohol and drugs for temporary relief. A primary component of recovery is the movement from isolation to intimacy. The movement from isolation to intimacy requires a few ingredients. The ingredients are a willingness, honesty, and humility.
Regarding willingness, we must become willing to let in others. We do this by asking for and accepting help. This process is a struggle for most addicts because we have been hurt in the past. Nevertheless, if we do not ask for help, we will surely die. A second major strategy for letting others in is service work. We start to break out of the bubble by considering the needs of others without expecting anything in return.
Next, we are honest with another human being about “all” of our sources of pain. We have kept many such sources a secret because of guilt and shame. We swore that such secrets would never see the light of day. However, after sharing, we realized that these horrible secrets no longer imprison us. We can now hold our head up and look others in the eyes without feeling dishonest or less than.
Through willingness and honesty, one achieves humility. Humility is a state of not having to be “better” or “worse” than. We can simply be one of – one that has made mistakes, has shortcomings, and is striving towards becoming healthier. We also apply this understanding to others. Humility removes the judgmental barrier that has blocked us from experiencing a healthy connection.
Lastly, these ingredients can be actualized through working the 12-steps with a sponsor. The steps allow us to connect in a healthy way to ourselves, others, and a Higher Power. We no longer have to be alone. The first word in the steps is “We.”