130: Can You Safely Isolate? (Sort Of)

We are talking about isolation. You might have heard the saying that “An addict alone is in bad company.” Or maybe “You’re never really alone because your higher power is always there with you?” Or how about “A person with no sponsor has a fool for a sponsor.” It’s often said that isolation leads to relapse. If the understanding that the disease of addiction, or substance use, tends to stem from a lack of connection, this could very well be true. We dig into isolation and examine if there are times when it’s okay to isolate, if there is a difference between isolation and solitude, and the feeling of being lonely. Listen in and share your thoughts with us about isolation. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who doesn’t yeah no i totally isolated actually and i’m billy i’m a person in long term recovery and i’m jenny i’m also a person in long-term recovery and we’re going to talk about isolation if you hadn’t figured that one out yet uh we did have a little bit of recap so we had a comment on our adult children of alcoholics youtube which this one caught me off guard it says this program makes us more christ-like through all our hardships the roots of a a is an evangelical protestant movement via oxford group i’m not arguing that that’s the roots of a a i’m not sure what it has to do with adult children of alcoholics is the program is the 12-step model to make us more christ-like i think if you look at spiritual living in general at least this has always been my opinion religions typically are based in spiritual living or spiritual principles that’s why this god concept is seems very similar amongst religions of different you know all different religions where it starts to get weird or different is with the ritualism around all that spirituality that was a good summary yeah i mean i it’s one of those things so like christ was a good dude and we’re trying to be good people so to say it makes us more christ-like in that sense is okay i’ll buy that but i i don’t know whatever i feel like when people say this is to make you more christ-like they’re actually saying something about religion involved in it and that’s not necessarily what i think 12 steps is even though i see a lot of people online argue that that’s exactly what they’ve encountered is people telling them they can’t really have their own god and it’s jesus yeah i’ve heard that as well i mean i don’t agree but yes i’ve heard people say those things i guess it all depends on where you’re going to meetings at but it kind of shocks me how often i see people like oh yeah this is exactly what i was told in meetings everywhere in my area i’m like wow oh yeah that’s i haven’t encountered it like that right right me neither um so anyway uh thank you for your comment and for listening hopefully you listen before you comment um uh you know always if you want to reach out to us you can find us on twitter and instagram and facebook and uh you know fair warning if you go to instagram or facebook it’s it’s you know not so nice drug memes you know but if you’re into that feel free to check us out there uh you can go to our website recovery source not very christ-like the memes are not christ-like whatsoever unless christ had a great sense of humor um and you can recoveryswordof.com you can find us there for you know if you enjoy this and you feel like it’s worth a cup of coffee you can go on our website and donate to us which goes back to help the community which leads into a new thing that some of our donated funds have done which was that a lady had moved into a recovery house and didn’t have any money or food stamps and we were able to provide a bunch of food for her through the funding so we all of us listeners included and she was really grateful so that’s pretty fantastic we also had a couple of requests for topics we just did harm reduction which came out today which is awesome but somebody else wanted to hear about marriage and recovery as a topic specifically when both partners are recovering in the same space and i was like oh we gotta have billy and gentlemen here is that is that how that works i i don’t know but that’s uh something we will evaluate in the near future we also had someone who said they wanted to hear about sexaholics um so i would point them to episode 67 and episode 69 conveniently they were both about sex addiction in some way shape or form and then someone else said they wanted to hear about sponsorship and i would point them to episode 88 changing sponsors and then episode 39 we did episode on sponsorship but i thought you know i don’t know we’re like 1 30 now or something like that so maybe we could re-evaluate sponsorship maybe we’ve learned or grown i don’t know what the hell that episode says yeah or also if people have i would say a little more specific questions i mean it’s hard to cover the whole subject of sponsorship in an hour i mean well i mean it’s not hard to cover what they’re supposed to do that’s easy but then the did nuancy things it’s a little harder to get into i said we did the changing sponsors so that was a little more guided conversation well and and you know i just saw an argument on facebook the other day about the sponsorship book that they have in in narcotics anonymous and they were like why does everybody hate this and the whole point that many people came to was people wanted a step-by-step guide about how to sponsor how to be a sponsor the rights the wrongs the black and the white and that book is just a guide of a bunch of people’s experience that basically says oh hey i did this and it was right and then somebody else comes along and says hey i did the opposite and that was right and they didn’t like that yeah they want like a list like a checklist well my criticisms of it weren’t as much that as the way it was written it wasn’t written like a book it’s sectioned out with all these little uh different quotes thrown in it’s just written in a weird way it’s not written in a way that you feel like oh this is a book that i can read like chapter one it’s sectioned out weird and cut up into little tidbits of it’s almost like a book that one of the colors like a coffee table book or a toilet book or whatever you could you know a book that you sit there and you pick up and you read a few you know things of it and then you sit it down and walk away that was my turn uh well maybe we can come up with another facet of sponsorship to cover that maybe that’s what we’ll do we’ll narrow it down for them and talk about something in the near future but we can definitely tell you how to sponsor people [ __ ] it tell them what to do no uh that’s definitely not how you do it but anyway that’s the the recap i have jenny lead us into isolation wow that sounds like it’s from uh let’s go guys lead us into isolation and deliver us from evil uh yes so i wanted to talk about isolation um because in in my history you know with drinking and then coming to recovery and now being recovered for a couple of years like my relationship to isolation has changed um so i thought it would be a good topic towards the end of my drinking 2012 isolation you know i was isolating i didn’t know it was called isolating all i knew was i was drinking a ton and i was scared to go out because i was ashamed and i was afraid i was gonna get like drinking and driving accident um so coming to recovery they’re like okay you know like one of the first hard and fast rules in a.a was like don’t isolate and and i realized what isolation was and i admit like in that first year yeah i was i was scared to isolate i was i was scared to be alone i should say so i was scared that i would like accidentally drink something um i know it sounds weird but like um it really does well i had this like i was i was working still working back then and um there was like this one stretch of road i had to go for work and it had all these liquor stores every one i had stopped at at some point in time and i would i was scared that like i would accidentally pull into one of these liquor stores and buy something like so um like i would just kind of like white knuckle down this like section of road like how’d you get in the parking lot there’s ice on the road and the car slipped and just i was afraid i’d lose my mind plus like in early recovery like oh you can’t trust yourself they’re always kind of preaching that like you can’t trust that alcoholic brain you know so i was like scared to be alone and that that eased up and then i had to take um i went to a conference uh related to down syndrome and um i was so scared to be alone in the hotel like i’d accidentally go down to the hotel bar you know yeah and um uh there wasn’t any alcohol in the room thank god um but like i i was you looked yeah i searched i looked under the beds in the closets nobody left anything um so i guess i was like six months sober then and um i remember calling people from my home group like every day just like checking in you know i was scared to isolate they did give me this advice uh which was you’re never really alone because when you know if you’re physically alone that’s when you’re with your higher power and i thought that was like a oh that was like a nice magical miscal way to think about things and it totally worked for me another recovery i wouldn’t say that’s how i do things now yeah and now you got a little buddha in you all the time yeah um but um so that fear of isolation faded in time like i don’t know exactly when it left me and now i’m at the point where like i wanna be alone like and i don’t think that’s necessarily unhealthy like being like if i had the ultimate vacation right now i would go by myself somewhere and just be alone relaxed you know with my thoughts doing what i want to do i don’t know if people in 12 steps would still

that’s not what saved me from drinking um yeah so right now isolation seems like a dreamy vacation so anyway i wanted to bring isolation as a topic because it’s changed so much from what i was drinking to when i was not drinking and now i’m still not drinking you know and i’m a person in long-term recovery i i want isolation but not so i can be nuts or i don’t know i think maybe people in 12 steps might be like that’s dangerous you know but i’m i’ve been sober nine years now like is that really dangerous you know um so i don’t know what do you guys think what what’s your history with isolation and what do you think about think about it now the longer you stay clean the closer you get to relapse jetty sounds like somebody somebody in a 12-step program would tell me uh or you yeah that’s uh no i agree i mean i don’t know if they have this in a a we we always had the an addict alone is in bad company and then five minutes later somebody else will share that you know when you’re alone you’re never alone with your higher power so i guess your higher power is bad company yeah so i don’t think of isolation as being alone like those are two different things to me so i can be alone like i like to do things independently or by myself like say go on a hike or a nature walk but if i still feel like emotionally connected with my wife or with you know my sponsor or with other people in my recovery network you know i’m not isolated to me the idea of isolation means i’m like sitting alone by myself uh totally dependent on my thoughts and and my me solving all my own problems like that idea that we have behind our self-centeredness like when i isolate i’m stuck with me alone solving all my problems fixing all my issues dealing with my life and that’s a bad place for me to be you know because that old adage like like you said an addict alone is in bad company for me that applies to like when i have problems or issues going on in my life or when i have decisions to make like i need to include other people in that stuff but doing things by myself or alone doesn’t necessarily mean i’m isolating i like that take yeah because it’s not about being physically alone it’s it’s about how you feel are you feeling lonely you know because you can feel lonely in a crowd you know like there’s that you know that that oh that person in the city is surrounded by people but they feel so alone you know we’ve been doing this two and a half years billy you gotta save the solution for like 50 minutes in not 12 minutes well i first heard that concept from a guy that was a friend of mine still is that you know was in recovery a long time i think at the time i met him he had five or six years clean he was a little bit older and he had never been married or really in a serious long-term relationship and he had talked about struggling with that for a long time feeling like he needed this other person to complete himself feeling like he needed you know some partner in life and then realizing that like you could still be alone and not be alone yeah no i i agree i mean you know we have this concept we say isolation but really there’s the feeling of being alone you can have that in a crowded room like that’s one of the worst things in the world to me is like it’s one thing to feel alone when i am alone but to feel alone when i’m supposedly not that’s even worse it’s like jesus here i am with either a large you know group of people or even you know if your relationship or your marriage doesn’t feel very connected it’s like [ __ ] here i am with the person i’m supposed to be connected to and i still feel all by myself i’d rather feel alone being alone than feel alone when i’m not supposed to feel alone like that feels even worse for me um so i don’t know i think isolation for me is more of a a you know nervous system or bodily mood state than it is necessarily a physical condition because i can you know we talk about this in in therapy like when you feel off and disconnected from the world that’s isolation but when you feel like you’re in a really connected safe body orientation that’s solitude right like that’s a whole different thing it’s like oh i spend my time solitude and you know recharge and maybe i read a book with myself or get in the hot tub or i you know practice meditation but it’s a whole different thing to to feel alone and i think that’s maybe more of what we’re going for i guess early in recovery and and you know people in meetings are trying to espouse the idea that when you just get here you might not have that connection yet or the tools to stay connected when you’re not actually physically with people and that can put you in that isolation like bodily or mind state and that’s dangerous i would say but i don’t know that actually physically being alone is a bad thing yeah and i think early in recovery especially it takes time and even now i still struggle with it of learning the concepts of like intimacy and vulnerability and and those are core concepts to building the connections with people you know what i mean like you can’t really build deep intimate connections unless you’re good at listening to other people’s problems and sharing your problems you know that’s all part of building relationships without those things then i am isolated even in a room full of people and i’ve had those issues you know in my marriage and in my life with lots of time clean in the same environment that i’m in now with three kids and a wife and a full-time job still feeling alone and isolated and you know i gotta figure everything out on my own i gotta do this all by myself nobody wants to help me nobody’s gonna do things for me so like where do you think that came from like even though you were in a marriage and this was in like sobriety or clean clean time so i wonder where how did you slip into that isolation

that’s for me i think it’s a feeling that isn’t always based in fact maybe it is based in fact but like so johan hari this guy wrote a book and um he’s got a sort of saying in there the opposite of addiction is connection yeah yeah i forget but it’s a youtube thing i think you can look at it yeah ted talk that was it it was a ted talk it wasn’t a book he wrote other books but it’s the opposite of addiction is connection and i think that is the core of of my you know seeking self-destructive things in my life to solve problems like that’s my self-centeredness um i could kind of say where that i think that comes from for me but i think it’s different for other people like i was abused as a kid so when i grew up later in life i learned i can’t trust anyone for anything it’s totally relying on me to solve all my problems and to take care of myself and protect myself and no one else is gonna ever look out for me or help me um they talk about that in one of the n a pamphlets you know it’s like we never outgrow the self-centeredness of the child thinking that we can do everything for ourselves all the time and that we don’t need other people and that’s just not the state of most human beings the natural state of most human beings most people need we need help from other people we can’t do everything on our own i was i was really curious of your take on how that happened to you um similar experience in in recovery in the marriage with kids feeling totally disconnected and alone myself and i i know the way i look at that now which has evolved over time um you know gabor mate talks about it in in the realm of hungry ghosts he says that what we’re learning through research is that it’s not just the childhood i feel like we always look to the childhood for like this big experience that happens this trauma this aces whatever it is but it’s not just anything about like having shitty parents or any of that like what we know now is that it can happen during the pregnancy like before you’re even on earth so to speak and in the first few years and if your parents are in stressful environments whether that be you know there’s just not enough money to get by and they worry about that whether they’re working two jobs to try to support you and can’t be there as much as they want to or whether they’re in a unhealthy domestic situation like any of these factors that cause stress on them change the way your brain forms and that’s during pregnancy and after and so you know uh the average human who gets the the proper experience might have a you know we’ll just make these numbers up a four inch you know span in their brain where they have receptors for the chemicals that allow us to feel positive and for our reward system to work right and somebody who’s born into a more stressful environment where the caregivers are stressed theirs might be one inch they’re never going to have the potential to feel as good or for you know quote-unquote good deeds to feel as rewarding for them and so it’s like it’s not necessarily that we need to know these specific situations but whatever it is we grow into a human that can’t feel the way the average human can feel i guess in a good sense and so i mean is there even any average humans anymore well i i don’t know you know i mean the studies were done in mice and you know i didn’t have any humans like licking me for nurture so thank god that might not be nurturing for humans um but the mice that got licked enough they would be given the alcohol or cocaine but then saw no need to continue to give it to themselves afterwards and the mice that weren’t nurtured enough just constantly alcohol cocaine alcohol cocaine more more more so it’s like uh you know when you don’t have the ability to feel okay to begin with you seek out ways to feel okay i remember i was thinking about this yesterday for some reason a buddy of mine i grew up with him he was funny we used to love hanging out i got into like weed and alcohol and getting high we would still hang out he never had any [ _ ] interest in it just none and i’m like well i always questioned it then i’m like how can you not want to but i couldn’t understand that he had an internal different feeling than i did you know but anyway to lead that into my marriage and not feeling connected that was just my understanding of the world i just felt disconnected all the time and so i can remember you know and this sounds pretty rough but like i was sitting in the bedroom in my house the rest of my family my wife and my kids are out there like playing watching a movie whatever they’re doing and i’m sitting there and we lived by uh the key bridge and i was like i should just go drive off of it like why the [ _ ] am i here right and i don’t know for me it was a matter of you know not only practicing principles not only you know finding some healing but it was also a matter of getting that chemical balance internally for me in the right state and once that chemical balance is okay then i have the ability to feel safe now i have the ability to like you know have solitude and and safe alone time and feel connected still but i i didn’t feel connected before that so i i don’t know if other people struggle with that and that’s why i was curious what your take on what happened to your marriage to feel disconnected was because i know we have slightly different takes on body physiology yeah in my case it’s been a couple of different times that i could say in a couple different situations some i can kind of point out and some i think are just a natural like what i’ll call like my natural state if i have a natural state like i tend to be a person that wants to solve all my problems myself fix everything and then once i’ve figured everything out and got to the other side then i’ll share it with you how i got through it what i did how successfully i overcame this challenge but i’m not a person that’s really open to sharing my struggles typically like that’s that’s hard that takes courage talk about later but uh in so in my case as you know my wife and i are moving along and raising kids and we’re making career choices in our 30s and she’s uh in some situations at her work you know she was in a career situation employed at a major university where she worked for a horrible boss who treated her pretty terrible and she was unhappy i hope he listens to the show uh i thought that was a woman [ _ ] she had approached you know them about you know the the upper whatever hr whoever you approach about that kind of [ _ ] made complaints other people had made complaints about the same person nobody did anything they said this person has tenure whatever so she’s like i’m gonna quit and i said how you can’t quit you have to stay because my values and her values in those situations are different you know what i mean my values are it’s great money our kids can go to college for free like there’s all this upside who cares if this person’s an [ _ ] [ _ ] you know it like i can go along and do my job and just let them do you know their bitching or whatever they you know like i don’t and maybe that’s unhealthy on my part i’m not saying i’m the healthy one just tolerate a different value so just that little thing started to create some issues in our marriage and being able to say hey we really have different values in this situation i got to learn to honor your values and realize that you know you need to do what’s right for you not necessarily what i think is right for you um led to a place where like again i go inward and then i’m like well i don’t know if our values are the same i don’t know if we’re going in the same direction in our life what about raising our kids are we going to raise our kids with the same kind of values she’s got some [ _ ] up values over there you know it’s just all internal dialogue going on in my head without conversation or sharing about what some pretty major life stuff and so that slowly leads to you know what i mean i can’t really count on you as a person you know that i depend on for anything i’ll just figure it all out on my own and make my own decisions how did you come out of that did you like talk to somebody oh well i think in our case and this has happened a few times i mean you get to a place where it’s like all right well do i want to stay in this miserable like we got to do something about this miserable situation whether that’s end this marriage whether this you know go to counseling do something different talk about what’s going on and so eventually we just decided to talk about what was going on and try to work through it but yeah i think in one sense i think my wife and i are both people that aren’t like i’m not gonna just sit in a miserable unhappy situation for too awful long before i’m like ah i’m gonna do something different now i don’t know what that is but i’m not gonna keep [ _ ] doing this that’s so fascinating because you were just telling her to stay in that miserable situation at college and yet your solution was i’m getting out of this miserable situation that’s hilarious i would love to do an experiment where you take medicine for two months yeah i would be curious i mean maybe it doesn’t work and it’d be cool to learn that but i would just be fascinated like hmm well i just i wonder what for like what am i am i taking an antidepressant

yeah you have some anxiety and most of the ssri class of antidepressants are also anti-anxiety just be it would be interesting i feel like there’s not a whole lot of side effects to him i’d be fascinated like what happens i don’t know to me it’s all i think it’s hard

yeah yeah i’m all for it uh i know that’s probably not good but yeah um so i you know going back to this idea of like body chemistry being off i think when we’re telling the new individual in recovery to not isolate there’s probably a lot of point to that right i mean when you stop using drugs and stop your body is not producing the right chemicals right away and even when it starts to i’m sure i mean i don’t have the research on this but i’m sure there’s fluctuations right we talk about like large mood swings and everything i don’t know if you remember those early in recovery but i definitely did like i’d be feeling great and then you know i go home and i’m feeling miserable and hate myself again and it’s like where does that come from but maybe that is the fact that my body is not producing the things it needs to produce regularly and scheduled and evenly and maybe over time there is some like just settling in of that even if it’s not settling into the ideal chemical balance at least it settles into a place where we get used to it and we know kind of how to deal with ourselves so i imagine over time in recovery for everyone there’s a a settling in of the ability to be alone but maybe early on that is probably a pretty good damn idea like hey don’t don’t isolate and i tend to think as an addict like our feelings aren’t necessarily totally unique as addicts like normal human beings i’m sure have times where they feel alone or isolated or whatever they just have healthier mechanisms for dealing with those things as an addict well hopefully healthy human beings i should say but you know they like i tend to think that everyone wakes up some days and just is like man [ _ ] i [ _ ] hate my life i hate my job i hate my kids you know but they just sort of have different ways of managing this maybe i’m putting myself out there i think that [ _ ] sometimes yeah so here’s a weird one last sunday was my birthday and we happy birthday thank you i had my whole family with me we were going to the mall we had to run a few errands we were supposed to go out to eat [ _ ] you cheesecake factory for your 90 minute wait by the way um that hasn’t changed yeah god i was on a sunday but i was like it’s not lunch it’s not dinner i’m going at the off time yeah there’s no [ _ ] off time whatever anyway um but we’re driving up there and i just started to feel this this sadness and i don’t know if it was like i’m gonna miss these people later when we’re not hanging out or or what it was it just felt like man this isn’t gonna last even though this is good now and i couldn’t attribute it to anything it just seemingly came out of nowhere and my coping mechanism today was to just share that with everybody huh guys i’m just feeling a little sad right now you know and then when we got out of the car a couple of them hugged me and it was like it didn’t necessarily go away right away but that’s a whole lot different than what it would have been years ago when i would have you know probably isolated and been miserable and and and isolated to the point where i would probably be miserable enough to make everybody want to be the [ _ ] away from me like it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy it’s like no one wants to be around me and then i make everybody not want to be around you’re miserable right oh yeah i think isolating does snowball like you know like you know the more i the more i isolated the more i drank which made me want to maybe more ashamed which made me isolate more which made me want to drink yeah and and some of that you know even just talking about it with our significant others or a sponsor or a friend can help us look at it a little more versus just going back reserving reverting back to that inner monologue that i said because that inner monologue in my head is never that healthy right it usually seems you know real negative and it perpetuates that sort of stuff yeah i can when you when you shared your your experience with that i can totally relate to that like i’ll get stuck in my head and it’ll just start pinging back and forth like just getting worse and that’s why i asked how you came out of it because somehow like somebody has to like kind of knock on my head like hello hello you know like just pull me out of that well and even in that situation like the the whys and the hows of how we ended up there aren’t totally obvious in the moment you know what i mean like it takes some work and being willing to look at some of that stuff like all right well how did we get here and what kind of happened and this has been a you know a couple of year process to end up at this spot it’s not like we just woke up one day and we’re like well years yeah you know so it’s taken time to isolate to a point and it’s like well i haven’t really been doing step work and i haven’t really been talking to my sponsor and my home group is this place where i just go to help all those people get better i’m not going there sharing any of my [ _ ] there anymore i’m fixing everybody else because i’m good you know and those things perpetuate to this place of isolation and loneliness and this isn’t like isolation isn’t just for addicts and alcoholics i mean i think it’s a mental health thing in general i i mean i see headlines about the generation after us being feeling more isolated than ever and i’m sure like it it plays into like how we are connected these days through more like social media than in person and um but yeah i hear the generation after us is even more kind of sad and lonely than we are which plays into a whole reason i think addiction and violent crime and all these things are where they are in our society me personally believe we are social creatures if you look back over history we lived in tribes we took care of each other like it wasn’t just one mom raised her kids and then like [ _ ] everybody else’s kids like there was you know a group of people and a lot of times the older people in the community raised the younger kids while the younger you know males and females went out and did different tasks amongst the community and there were shared values and shared goals amongst the whole community and we just don’t have that anymore at all or most of us don’t have that at all consumerism right this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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can i read this quote i this it ties into what you said so i grabbed this off the internets from bright life recovery so just like physical illness isolation can be influenced by genetic predisposition with some individuals being inherently more susceptible to feelings of isolation and disconnection which is like what you were saying jason and then also like a disease isolation can spread through communities especially those in which crime and poverty are prevalent in these contexts distrust can be rampant with crime poverty and drug use leading to community-wide fear and despair which is kind of like what you were alluding to i thought that was a really interesting perspective on isolation and for me that’s part of the reason i never did well with zoom meetings was because i’ve looked at like now i would say in my recovery i don’t necessarily still go to meetings because i’m waiting to hear some new enlightening information that’s going to change my life although i try to be open to that i just don’t think that’s gonna happen i go because of the connection that i feel to the people in the room because of the community that i feel when i’m physically there and i don’t get that from social media stuff you know this is why i stopped doing social media that’s why i never felt that connection in zoom meeting so i never really participated in very much it’s weird with the younger generation and i don’t say this in a judgy way because i have done it but they’ll all hang out by themselves in their own house participating in this social media and it’s like a form of connection almost to some extent and yet then they all get together and they still do the social media instead of being present with each other which is fascinating and like i do this in my house sometimes right so if i go out if us three i mean we come here i don’t really get on my phone like that but if we went out to dinner i won’t [ _ ] touch my phone while we’re at dinner like i’m there i’m here for the dinner i’m here to converse but then i go sit in my house with people and like straight on my phone like i don’t think nothing and i’m like that’s i’ve been trying to move away from that some too because i think there’s something to that that in-person technology uses disconnecting as opposed to like it’s one thing to participate with people while i’m away from them but when i’m with them i feel like i really need to be present with them well you probably feel safe with your family too you’re like i can relax and just kind of yeah but i i was i’m not getting as much internally later out of sitting with them on my phone as i am when i actually participate and and i’m present yeah but even that awareness so i i do believe early in recovery we lack all that knowledge and information and recognizing like hey i’m feeling isolated and alone like that was my normal state of being through my whole entire using was to be isolated alone like that was normal now when i find myself there i’m like oh this is uncomfortable like i don’t really like this you know and it takes a while to build up some skills of like recognizing that but then what do i do with that what do you know am i supposed to how do i get out of this well why did we isolate when we were using i mean obviously there is the shame aspect i didn’t want to go around the people that love me i think you know there was a a common trope when i got um in recovery of like not taking the main streets but always walking down side streets and from from a city so back alleys like i didn’t want to be seen by anybody i [ _ ] looked terrible i wasn’t up to any good but then i think there’s even that third factor for me it was like i ain’t sharing my [ _ ] like that’s for sure so i don’t want to be around anybody that might ask for some of it because then i’ll feel bad saying no but i mean is there other reasons for isolating what we’re using well in my case at least most of my using was different than that so when i used i had a job i wore a suit and tie to work and was clean cut and was still maintained a job and had friendships or you know whatever could be semblance of friendships so it wasn’t that physical isil it was always the isolation of like being alone and not really almost being inhuman like i don’t share anything about myself or my vulnerabilities or my weaknesses any sort of spiritual principles of like kindness or forgiveness or acceptance like those things are all just weaknesses that are gonna like let people take advantage of you and so i was like physically around people but in a place where i didn’t let anyone really get close or know who i actually was i feel like i was isolated long before drugs personally like when i think back to my childhood like i always had these thoughts and feelings that i thought were unacceptable to share with others right because they made me somehow less than everybody else or you know in my particular case the the the story was like you’re not manly enough you’re not tough enough and so i was like well i can’t tell the other kids on the playground that [ _ ] right even though they might all felt it as well i couldn’t share that to feel any more connected and i wasn’t telling dad like that would have felt yucky and so i basically just didn’t tell anybody which made me feel more and more alone over time it was like i have to keep hiding who i really am because if anybody else knows that they’ll hate me the way i hate me or they’ll see me as not enough in the way i see me as not enough and i feel like that that played more into my isolation than anything that idea that people can’t know the real me i i’m not good enough to be known yeah and that’s similar for me i mean that’s that the situations that got us there might be different but the feeling was exactly the same like i can’t let anybody know really who i am you know well and i don’t think quentin using takes that away no it doesn’t that was already there so right it’s going to be there again when i’m in recovery what are we going to say jenny oh yeah it was same for me too like i remember like late grade school like starting to hide who i was because i was so sensitive to criticism and we moved a lot so i had i was always trying to make friends trying to make friends and uh so i guess it was like maybe that’s like where the perfectionism was born and um you know just sensitivity criticism and i just started hiding away how weird i was and for me though that’s where the step work came in it’s like when i really did a fourth step or fifth step actually with a sponsor and shared some of that stuff that i was like i’m never talking about any of this with [ _ ] anybody and i shared some of that and i wasn’t immediately rejected or tossed off and i was valued as a human being still and i realized you know weeks and months after that like hey this is okay like it’s that wasn’t as traumatizing as what i thought it was gonna be in my head and then getting into like a six and seven step of realizing like yeah i have some defects there’s some [ _ ] that’s not right about me but i have some assets too there are some things about me that are good like i have these good qualities you know and i can be like i can assimilate to regular human beings and that i have assets and i have defects and we all do and no one’s perfect and those kind of concepts that again when i’m telling myself that [ _ ] in my own head it makes a lot of sense but when i work through that with a sponsor and talk about some of that it’s like yeah we’re all [ _ ] up in some way or another we really are all [ _ ] up you know i i think you know i definitely have a piece of well yeah but what gave me the internal safe enough feeling to share those things right like just trying to look at what might keep somebody else from being able to take that fourth step you know always before like oh you’re just not willing well that’s easy to say but what could keep them from it there’s the internal piece in my mind at least and even if we don’t necessarily agree or believe in that like what if you don’t find the safe feeling sponsor right like i mean i feel like i was lucky enough to but what if that’s not your situation and nobody in your small town feels like the right safe haven to share that kind of stuff with so then i mean what i don’t know if i have an answer to that so this goes back to what i worked through in a fourth step was that it may not be my sponsor and it may be different people that i share different parts of that with for different reasons maybe i go to a counselor and share about my sexual abuse or issues with a counselor that doesn’t necessarily like my understanding of a fifth step wasn’t that i picked one individual and then shared every intimate detail of everything that i ever did wrong with that person it was the idea that you know i’m not supposed it says just another human being so i’m not supposed to keep that stuff inside locked inside i need to find someone to talk to about that that’s going to give me some healthy perspective and healthy uh way coping mechanisms for dealing with that stuff so my brain tries to make life a model of efficiency so if i can do that one person that’s way simpler than 10 people for 10 different things and even that whole process built on you know faith and trust and just taking a risk of like [ _ ] man i’m doing these steps and the steps say to do this stuff next and of course like most of the steps in hindsight i realized the benefits of it but going into it i’m only reading about the benefits of it i’m reading that it’s gonna do all these things and i’m like i don’t know i don’t i’ll do it and we’ll see what happens and then you do it and most people i wouldn’t even say all but i would say most people do get the benefits that they talk about from working their steps there’s a huge risk there though for sure right so like okay i come around i don’t feel tough enough i get a an old like biker tough ass dude to be my sponsor and then i know oh [ _ ] if i share this parts of my story that make me sound like what my head says is a [ _ ] i could face the ultimate you know truth that this guy says i really am like that’s [ _ ] scary i’ve been hiding from that my whole life like that’s that’s a lot to walk through you know just uh going back to something you said jenny and this is my own growing up as a guy biased [ _ ] because i know it’s not different for any type of human right but i’m like when women say they had those same struggles that i had my first thought is always like with what i’m like guys worry about not being tough enough that our dick’s not big enough like we have these concerns like what are women worried about like what are like i i don’t know that they’re overweight or something like what is their i just feel like you guys don’t have the social requirements but i again i know that’s [ _ ] but it it’s just always so hard for me to fathom i’m like because i guess because i i like women i’m like wonderful right like all of them are cool i don’t know i just it’s so hard for me to identify what kind of struggles did women have with oh being enough oh okay well we i think in my story i brought up uh like the grade school example um and i guess i guess um yeah i definitely didn’t think i was like pretty or um i was a little overweight and i was weird i had a weird sense of humor i used to like write weird stories and i i really liked so i was really into star wars and it wasn’t as popular as it was then that was not cool like and um i don’t know i guess the way i pl i mean we’re talking about grade school so like eight nine the way i played was different like when i lived in south jersey we you know i used to play with kids on the playground we used to like play star wars or buck rogers go ahead laugh it’s full um but like when i went to new york when i went to new york nobody wanted to play like that and i i was weird i was a weird kid you know and then then that you know like well she’s the weird kid and i don’t you know so just you know like um around then too my dad was like kind of like disappearing so i guess there’s that like rejection you know like what why does anyone you know it’s all about me like why doesn’t one would be with me had no concept that it was him and my mom and alcohol and you know but as a kid you think it’s you so you have to actually and there’s something protective to go back to like what you said earlier i i can look back over the story of my life and make connections and rationalizations as to why i think i felt that way but i don’t know maybe it was something that happened you know what i call that in vitro or whatever you know before i was even born maybe those concepts were there no matter what [ _ ] life experience i had because everyone at some point or another is gonna have a life experience where they feel a little weird or different or they have a different take on things or they [ _ ] wore the wrong outfit to the wrong you know like we’re all going to have those that’s a human experience and so you know maybe we are some way born with some of that well and and not to i don’t want to take us back to that i feel like we’re going to have this argument next episode so i don’t want to have it now um but that’s where i come from or at least where i’m trying to come from you know i don’t necessarily know that it’s genetics i think it’s epigenetics right i think it’s these situations that our genetics are put into like you said in utero or or beyond where people are physically developing different right so maybe you have when you’re born or into your adult life at least you’ve grown this 50 capability let’s say and that’s what allowed you at that four step period to say you know what i can push through this but maybe there’s other people who are born with 35 or 25 capability in that whatever area it is right this [ _ ] that we can’t even really study or measure yet and when they get there they truly physically can’t make that choice right that’s not even an option on their menu their menu is like uh [ _ ] it go back to using or punch somebody in the face to feel tougher or something right like that’s the only two options like i just don’t want to spend the rest of my life thinking people aren’t doing something that they can’t do and because i don’t really think we completely understand all this yet i want to err on that side and just assume when people don’t they can’t and what can i do to try to help them be able to can that’s all and i feel like we kind of go back and forth with that sometimes i think we did it with willingness i think we agree with that part i think the difference is what do you like what do you do do you assume people need a medication or a crotch or something to help and i hate to use word crush that’s yeah do they need some sort of help or assistance or you know whatever or do you say all right well let’s see you try or let’s see what happens when we you know take all these things away and just because i do think everyone’s different and i don’t think everyone’s gonna find an answer to all their problems by just doing 12 steps like that’s not realistic well i’m not even yeah i’m not even you know criticizing 12 steps in this idea just that i think we had that conversation and the willingness episode of like you think there’s a point where it comes to where people just need to make this certain decision or about whatever it is and i’m just not sure that that’s possible like i i really just don’t know and so i i don’t know i feel good coming from that place one i believe it but two i feel like it just helps me be a person that’s like i wish i had solutions i have no idea how we help you but let’s let’s do body experiments and [ _ ] find out right maybe the medicine works maybe it doesn’t maybe you know i don’t know maybe we drop you off a [ _ ] one-story roof and see what happens like i have no [ _ ] clue right there’s a whole lot of i don’t know if i’d use the word research there’s a whole lot of god i don’t even know if i could say evidence but like because there’s motivational speakers and motivational posters and all this motivational [ _ ] that is there for some reason to try to get people to push through difficult things and do things that they don’t want to do like that’s though that’s our toxic positive society yeah but is it i mean if it didn’t work wouldn’t it go away i mean no because we want to keep as long as we keep enforcing that idea we don’t have to accept people that aren’t up to our standards i don’t think one means the other i don’t know i mean i can be motivated to make positive changes in my life without judging other people just because i decide to diet or exercise or all that doesn’t mean i gotta put down people that don’t you get privileged from that what do you mean i mean your life is way better and you’re looked at much nicer than other people whether you’re driving or not right so yeah that why all the people who gain privilege from this idea and concept that people just need to suck it up and push through and motivate themselves they’re on the other side of it like they have the the more than 50 percent capability of whatever that thing is so it’s easy for them to say yeah but most of them had to start from somewhere like when you look at people that were drastically overweight or were addicts or you know were any of these really negative things and now they’re on the other side and they’re telling you their experience of how they did it and what helped them and what motivated them like that’s all like i don’t know maybe you don’t feel like it’s true but i feel like that’s true evidence that that works for some people that that is what some people need the story the brain is a story maker to make meaning of life which is a beautiful thing but it makes up the story after the fact yeah and it’s not necessarily based on reality right the stories i make up about uh and this is what [ _ ] hilariously entertains me all the time all the stories my brain makes up about why i do things the way i do make me look really really good every last one of them i’m like oh yeah i uh you know the reason i schedule things out and i’m always on time is just because that’s the kind of person i am right well it could also be because i’m [ _ ] anxious as [ _ ] and it means that i’m a terrible person if i’m not on time or something right like there’s a whole lot of other stories that could be possible but i ignore them and create the one that makes me sound like a [ _ ] god or something which is why i laugh at them now and i think all stories that we make up her i don’t think they’re [ _ ] necessarily but i don’t put a whole lot of stock into them so like yeah that person can say oh yeah it’s because i got motivated and i really cared about my health and all this right and it could have been that like some dude rejected them in a bar and it [ _ ] hurt their feelings and you know that was their low point that they needed to do something like it yeah but there could be some truth to like hey if i don’t want to be late for [ _ ] i’d leave 10 minutes earlier like there could be basic truth to that but what about the people who can’t who just can’t that’s that’s the people i’m trying to champion for like it doesn’t make me better because i do no i don’t think it makes anyone better right right but we can agree on that but the most of the world doesn’t that’s true yeah yeah it’s the judgment and the criticism and like bashing people part that sucks all the people who were on the good end of it are always gonna say it’s something they did to get there and i’m just not so sure about that yeah that’s true yeah i mean i don’t know where do you take yeah there’s a level of where do you have to accept personal responsibility you know and i don’t know where that is but what if you can’t what is your responsibility if you can’t but i think there’s there’s a limited number of people that can’t i don’t think that anyone that’s not it’s because they can’t like i i don’t think that i could not have gotten clean any other time in my life i think i made different choices for different reasons and decided that the work wasn’t worth their reward and so i went back to using like that’s oh yeah i just see it totally different see it totally different and that as we get to these opportunities or choices in our life you know it’s just like the isolate you take it back to the isolation like nowadays when i find myself isolating her alone there’s a feeling there’s a thing that comes up in me that i’m like oh i can see what this is this is isolation now what am i going to do with this am i just going to stay in it or do i take action that i know in the past has worked to help get me out of it and so i’m going to take that action or maybe i don’t maybe i’m like [ _ ] i’m going to stay here right but you have no clue what it would feel like to find yourself in that position see yourself isolating and then look at your menu options and say oh the only one is just [ _ ] stay here okay so you assume that everyone has the other option of saying you you take it as a personal victory as in something you did to say i can do these other things i can make that choice and go be better and be around people and stop isolating oh i think helping like i think there’s we need to help people get there like that’s the whole point of all the you know helping people in recovery

you’re saying when you get to that point you’re looking up at these two options and i’m saying what if the other person doesn’t have that option what if they look up at their menu and that shit’s not even on there or they go to order it and the chef’s like yeah we’re out of 86 the they’re going back to talking to people that’s not available we don’t have it well there’s always an option to go seek more information is there if i if i give myself the out that my only solution to every problem is to do nothing and sit here until i want to do something different that’s [ _ ] that is then i will do nothing it’s my like i gained insight into how to do things better when i’m like [ _ ] i don’t have the answers i don’t know what to do here i need to go ask people that have done it or seek other information from someone therapist counselor church 12 steps another person who’s done it like you know if all i ever do is isolate and figure out that i can only do what i can do based on what i feel like doing then i’ll never do anything right we’re gonna have to have this conversation next episode uh so back to isolation so interestingly uh i don’t know if all 12-step fellowships or any more of them have this kind of literature but narcotics anonymous has the loner staying clean in isolation it’s a pamphlet it is completely [ __ ] useless in 2022. it talks about joining a loner group a narcotics anonymous loner group where you guys communicate by mail i mean i don’t know maybe if you don’t have access to email maybe if you’re in prison but in prison there’s other people in meetings usually i i have no clue what this is why they say they should update that one because there’s way easier ways now yeah i i don’t get it yeah is the image on the front like somebody with like the white t-shirt and leather jacket and like black slicked hair like the loner when we traveled we realistically ran into that issue so we were out in a part of utah that did not have recovery meetings there was i can’t say did not they had there were two aaa meetings that were one was like a 40-minute ride one way and then the other one was fairly close and there was like four people in each meeting and there were no n a meetings and to get to a meeting other than that was like a two-hour ride one way oh yeah wi-fi yeah but this was before like zoom meetings were like a thing well not really well there was always in the rooms in the rooms it’s been around for a while and there were some nine maybe what’s that it’s been around since like 09. yeah so there were a few uh other outlets and and there used to be like and of course now this would be really dated but there used to be like phone groups you could get on i mean

even when you’re talking about not having groups nearby like you had [ __ ] email and text messaging right like you could still stay in touch with people from the meetings if you didn’t go every week yeah but i mean for a person like me that it was the personal connection piece like that’s what i’ve learned for myself of what the attraction is to specifically narcotics anonymous it is that interpersonal connection and i don’t know that i can’t get that somewhere else but that’s where i feel it the most is in n a meetings you need to write more letters to people apparently wait months bring it home jenny how are we wrapping this up oh um don’t isolate yeah don’t do it that’s good um did you know so i read this this week um in the new york times about during 2020 alcohol related deaths were up 25 percent isolation and yeah generally equated to isolation it was um people drank more to deal with stress and then when you’re home uh it’s cheaper so you know you’d buy more and um like when you’re out a bartender would be like hey you’ve had enough buddy you know like you don’t get that at home so then it was isolating and um inability or reluctance to ask for help so isolating with high stress and then limited access to treatment anyway uh the amount of alcohol-related deaths were almost tied with the amount of coveted deaths for those under 65 that’s how big that number was so i guess to really bring it home yeah and overdose deaths were up as well okay overdose deaths and you kind of mentioned this in passing but but like yeah the change to the ways we were able to seek treatment right whether i mean not just talking about inpatient detox we’re talking like meetings you’re talking about zoom meetings right billy like that changed the way people interact and relate and so how many people were stuck at home and didn’t like zoom meetings and and used again right or drank again or whatever we want to call it or you know you didn’t have those like similar outpatient groups that might be the follow-up to an inpatient detox right where you can go three times a week and be a part of a group of people also doing what you’re doing so so many more connections not available because of covid which yeah no totally understandable and and sad i mean nobody was addressing that during copenhagen right right yeah one of the things i liked about the group i was attending is that we still met you know we met outside and we had people coming from all over the place because we were still meeting in person you know people were coming from you know half hour 40 minutes away just like i want to be around people yeah we started the outside meeting too here for recovery dharma you know because i didn’t i didn’t do a single zoom meeting during covet i just didn’t didn’t well i was with the kids for virtual school and like the last thing i want to do was get on another virtual meeting um so then it wasn’t too long it was like summer 2020 we started the outdoor meeting yeah well and i’ve talked to a few people recently that are coming out of that now like all they’ve done was virtual meetings for the last two years and now they’re like i feel so much better to get back in person around people you know yeah that they didn’t realize what they you know they didn’t realize they were suffering the way they were just because that’s what they had been doing for two years yeah but you’re being a guy who attends in-person meetings only you’re never gonna hear all the people who are like oh thank god i don’t have to run back and forth to meetings