Because I Have 6 siblings, I sometimes hear “it should be easy to connect with others.” Well, that has not been my experience. Despite being surrounded by friends, neighbors, a big family etc., I often felt alone. It seemed to me that I just did not fit in with “normal” people. Fear had me in its grips since I can remember and the constant thought of wanting to fit it drove me to do things such as take risks, be overly funny and essentially do almost anything for attention including breaking the law. Here I was, an outsider looking in on life. It seemed everyone was comfortable, and I was not. I could not quite put my finger on why I felt the way I did.
One day while hanging out with an older crowd, I discovered the magic effect produced by alcohol. After a few drinks, the fear of people melted away and it felt like I had been freed from myself. It’s as if I finally fit in which is so desperately what I wanted. The relief I found in alcohol was an amazing discovery and once I experienced that relief, I wanted it again and again. My alcohol use increased and so did my confidence. Alcohol made me into something that I wasn’t. My risk taking increased and the friends I was now spending time with were people who drank the way I did. Drinking was now my primary focus; it became an obsession.
As years passed, I was unaware of the damaging effects alcohol and other substances were having on my life and my connection with the world. Alcohol use to provide me with a connection with others, which I truly wanted, but it was now doing the opposite. The same people who wanted me to be a part of their life no longer wanted me around. I was becoming a “loose cannon” and unpredictable. When I would drink, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen and despite knowing this, I did it anyway. Soon, consequences began which included broken relationships, hurt family members, interaction with law enforcement and more. It was hard to see that the same chemical that allowed me to be free from fear of people had now turned it’s back on me. It was actually doing the complete opposite; it was pushing people away instead of allowing me to connect with them.
One day it dawned on me, that I could no longer drink alcohol without major consequences. It was a huge blow knowing I could no longer drink and use substances. It was as if I was losing a close friend.
Around that same time, I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous and still being very afraid, it was terrifying to walk into a room full of people who, I thought, were going to call on me to say something. My whole body was trembling with fear. Despite the fear, I continued to go back to meetings and eventually started meeting people in AA and realized that they were like me. It took me awhile, but I eventually got up the courage to go eat pizza with some of the guys after an AA meeting – this was a huge step for me! I was so scared they were going to say something to me and make fun of me. By going out to get pizza with these guys, I felt a sense of confidence and began to feel like I fit in.
In AA I began a service commitment as a door greeter at meetings which helped me to meet more people and eventually helped me make more friends. Low and behold, I began walking into meetings and knew most people that were there. I was now developing relationships with more and more people, which looking back, is why I drank. The fear of people was leaving me!
The relationships I now have in AA are now the cornerstone of my life. It is nothing short of a miracle that I can now have a deep connection with people without the use of alcohol or substances. I never thought it would be possible to have the meaningful relationships that I have today. I can’t say enough about the changes that have happened to my relationships with family, friends, and often times just random strangers. I now meditate in the mornings and can feel a genuine connection with the world. The same guy who would hide from people and the world, is now someone who seeks to have contact with them. My connection with others has become the most important thing in my life and I realize now that it is what I’ve always wanted.