Welcome back to the seventh episode of Don’t lose your balance. In today’s episode, I’d like to talk about loneliness, what it means for me and what the differences between being alone versus being lonely.
Every person has a different threshold and a need for being alone. By nature. Some people are extroverts. Others like myself are introverts. So what’s the difference? Well, Healthline.com defines extroverts as people who are the life of a party, and they have a very outgoing nature. They’re vibrant, and that vibrancy draws other people to them, they actually have a hard time turning away attention, and they thrive off of that interaction.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are introverts. These people are typically described as being more reserved, they may engage in a multitude of social activities, but they need time away from others to actually recharge their batteries, and recharge that energy. I don’t believe I’m reserved, but I have learned to tame my filter a bit. But that is only most recently. I am opinionated, which at times has gotten me into trouble. People describe me as someone that doesn’t actually have a filter, I speak my mind. My online community has taught me to think before speaking. Clubhouse has taught me to be a better listener, a really good listener. My Facebook groups which I help and actively moderate, they have taught me to hit the pause button before commenting.
I learned that people don’t want to hear your opinion, they actually want to hear their opinion coming out of your mouth. You know, sometimes I get it right. But sometimes I don’t. One thing I can say is that no matter how vocal I am, I am definitely someone that needs and requires time alone, I always have. I like to shut things off. My energy isn’t drained too often these days. But when I was a young mother, I was very often drained. So what does recharging your battery actually mean?
As a young mother, the demands of motherhood were wonderful and very oftentimes challenging. When I had one child, the demands were less than when I had two, obviously. But when I was feeling off and had no one to offload those demands, I found drugs and alcohol helped me get through those times. But I was clearly fooling myself. The drugs and alcohol were obviously draining me not energizing me as I had thought, except for the Vicodin. The Vicodin and would somehow recharge or energize me. I just want to go back a little bit to talk about that, because I don’t think I ever have. And during the time I was a mother, I never really got a chance to talk about it, except maybe with a doctor. And I don’t even think I was that forthcoming. I think I talked about it briefly in the addiction episode, but not as it pertained to help me helping me get through the feeling of lonely. Whether it was Vicodin, and me later switching to alcohol. And actually both during the better part of my four years of addiction. Those four years were during a time I had pretty young children, and that clearly has had an egregious impact on many people around me and especially them. But I can’t speak for them. I can only speak for myself and what I felt during that time. So before we get into too much more about lonely and alone, I think it’s important to articulate to others on how the drugs made me feel. Despite having discussed this before. I think it’s very relevant to speak from my own personal perspective. Because for those individuals that are listening, maybe they will see themselves in these scenarios. I also feel it’s important to understand the brain and how opioids alter our brain chemistry. And that chemistry may never return to normal. I’m not a doctor and this can get very clinical so I won’t go there. But it was also something I didn’t realize at the time I was experiencing because I was very much alone – before the doctors even during the doctors, but before.
Opioid addiction and opioid dependence are two different things. But that didn’t actually matter to me. They are different though. It was once explained that the little old lady who needs to take opioids for her chronic pain is equally dependent or addicted as let’s say someone like me, with one caveat. She takes what is prescribed and nothing more. The addict in me forced me to take more and more and more, not only because of tolerance, but mostly because if one or two pills did the trick, shortly four six, or eight or more would do better. More isn’t always better, sometimes more, is just more. Therefore, with the help of some doctors, this was just something I had to learn after so much time had passed. Let me go back a little bit further, what is Vicodin? Well, like it is a type of opioid and narcotic pain medication. And the way they work is by attaching themselves to tiny receptors or nerves in the brain, which blocks normal function, and creates new feelings and sensations. And these feelings for me were feelings of empowerment, energy and warmth. When they were working, they helped me get through some very difficult times. I didn’t mind being alone, I could get through the feelings of lonely, I stopped feeling lonely. Despite the temporary pleasure of feeling good, I knew it was only a matter of time until that feeling of loneliness returned. But I remember thinking, I’ll worry about that later. I never actually addressed it as a sober person, what was lonely and why was I lonely? What pressures did I experience as a young mother, who had a husband that traveled weekly for his job to keep food on the table, that made me feel lonely, really lonely.
I was just lost, alone, and very, very lonely. Listen, I can’t go back and change what happened, I can’t change the past, I can only continue to move forward, which is what I’m doing. And that’s what I’m doing here. So now with the opioid addiction, well, behind me and the alcohol gone from my life, I find that I’m not actually often accepted so easily still by those that I love. Certainly my sister and my parents are thrilled and some of my friends, but that’s where it ends. The memories that other people have of me as a drug addicted or an alcoholic person remain, it sometimes gets transferred to others that have an opinion of me or react towards me, despite the fact that they rarely ever saw me fucked up. Rarely. I didn’t say they never saw me. But it’s not actually their battle. Their problem isn’t with me. So I can’t force the changes, so lonely sometimes returns because I can’t get to the people I need to, they won’t let me in. So I have to be creative, not to force them, but use my creativity to feel better. I have to focus on my own life and where I am going and what I am doing to make a difference in this world for whatever time that I have left to be on it. And in it.
I will say this lonely as a temporary feeling. Alone is permanent. For me right now. I can’t see it changing anytime in the near future. If you feel lonely, find a community. Reach out to others, if that’s not in your nature, because it’s certainly not in mind, find something creative to help you navigate your loneliness. It is temporary. In a few hours, something will shift. You know people say things like go for a walk. Yeah, that doesn’t work. For me. Walking in my neighborhood is just as lonely. I’m just changing geography. For me getting on clubhouse, or Facebook or Instagram or YouTube, it feels less lonely. But I didn’t have any of that back then. The world opens up for me now. I can listen to music and work on the computer. Maybe I’ll even call my mother she’s always good for chatting about an hour or two until she tired of it all.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about how these scripts and these episodes remind me of a time that was really hard and and the impact that my loneliness had my children makes me sad. I don’t want to remember those times because they are so painful. But then I remind myself that doing what I’m doing now might actually help others, might hopefully help others.
You know, lots of parents and children have contentious relationships. I don’t think I’m that unique. It exists probably more often than not, but I can only speak of my own and I haven’t seen or heard too many people people speak of their relationships until recently. I cannot be the kind of person who is with others, I can’t fake it for too long. So while being alone isn’t always easy, it’s a better way of life for me. I cannot be unhappy with someone else. And stay in that relationship. It means that holidays are spent alone. It sometimes means if I want to take a vacation, which is rare, I do it alone. It also means dining out alone.
Some people aren’t capable or have no desire to dine alone. I’ve never had a problem with it. But that was when I was drinking, I could have a glass of wine and eat at the bar. And because of quarantine, I haven’t been to a restaurant and more than a year and a half. I even stopped cooking because wine always went with food. Much of the pleasures of what I did when I was drinking are no longer part of my reality. So I’ve shifted my attention to my creativity, painting, writing, designing, all of these things were done during quarantine, and I was completely alone all the time. But I never really felt lonely. Well, I guess sometimes I was lonely, but it passes and it passes very quickly. Look, if there was a chance to change the past, I might have done a few things differently. I may have appreciated that life and time go by very quickly. And it’s only in hindsight that I’ve now realized that. I was pretty connected to my family until I wasn’t and I’m very regretful of that.
There is some comfort in practicing gratitude, especially with others. Community is all around us. It doesn’t have to be local. And the pandemic taught me that I wasn’t lonely and alone. I am absolutely alone. But in no way am I lonely and alone. You know, I may never be forgiven for my history, my past history, but I should be entitled to be happy. You know, I did find happiness in quarantine, but it’s not sustainable. And I know that. I know there are men that would like to be in my life, but I keep them at a distance because they aren’t the right men.
There is an overwhelming sense that something or someone is waiting for me. I’m not waiting for it. It’s waiting for me. But I can’t tell you what that is. I’m hoping this is moving me forward or towards whatever or whomever that place or person may be.
Join me next week for another episode of Don’t lose your balance. I hope at some point I can dive into relationships, motherhood, friendships a bit more in depth. While I discuss my own journey, sharing my OWN story for those willing to listen and hopefully helping you or others you know, heal or get back to balance.
If you found value in this or other episodes of Don’t Lose Your Balance, why not follow me, here, or on Facebook at Don’t Lose Your Balance and Instagram, which is dontloseyourbalancemsd. I also have a website where you can read the transripts and learn more about me and resources for getting help along your journey of life.
Thanks so much and see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai