Book 2 of the Surrogate Method of Addiction Treatment
(A little recovery handbook for times of Pandemic)
Coming to a book stand near you!
Chapter 1 (sample)
The world we once knew has vanished in a very short period of time. Over our first years of gaining life saving awareness we were taught we needed each other, but it was difficult to give up what we thought of as our independence. We learned that our best thinking got us into a whole world of trouble and saw it clearly when examining our past deeds. We were hammered into believing that keeping to ourselves was dangerous, but it was a hard fought battle to live with tribal consensus rather than our own opinions. We finally got that isolation led to all sorts of relapse issues, from food to drugs to sex and relationships, anything that might even faintly smelled of addiction. Recovery’s greatest enemy is isolation. Some may know it well and have explored the terrain intimately, others may think they have it under control. Let’s take a closer look and see why isolation has become so dangerous in the time of Covid-19 and beyond.
This “new normal” is an isolationists dream to the same degree it has become nightmare for others. Just think, permission; no not even that, it’s almost a law to social distance in these days of pandemic. Today a sneeze on the street cuts a wide swath in public, almost like the parting of the Red Sea for those who wish to walk alone. It looks as if getting ‘back to normal’ is not an option.
There are many definitions and meanings of isolation, probably as many as there is human beings on this planet. To some it is the most comfortable place to be, owing nothing to anyone but oneself, responsible only to our experience of how comfortable it is to not be accountable to anyone but self. Some of the romantic ideation used to isolate are used all the time in our lives. Isolationists are attracted to the persona of the ‘lone wolf’, needing no one, speaking only when necessary, a Clint Eastwood type of figure riding out of town slowly into the sunset with steely squinting eyes a cheroot hanging from the corner of his mouth. Or a spiritual guru, meditating while pushing others away with their metaphysical and other worldly demeanor.
Others can be fooled quite easily into thinking they are not isolating but are doing their part to save the world. The justifications are endless! Pre Covid it was difficult to isolate. There would be phone calls, texts, and even a banging on the door. Becoming clean was such a tribal exercise that it was hard to be on the fringe. Through our own experience with relapse we found it to be true and usually gave up our incessant hiding out with the blinds closed and doors locked. We jumped in and became one of the door crashers ourselves, firmly coming to believe it was the right way. But underneath, where addiction waits, a yearning for aloneness never is truly vanquished. It was too hard sometimes to be observed and told how to ‘be’ and what to do. We never did learn to use our voice effectively. People pleasing was still a way to get the world off your back.
We start our exploration here at this point, probably in isolation. Many of us work from home now and admittedly it took time, but we did become very comfortable with working in our pajama bottoms while conducting zoom business meetings dressed for business from the waist up. We found that not driving or taking transit was not only money saving, it was just plain better than having to wear your public face all day every day. The sleeping Isolation Dragon opened one eye.
In the beginning not going out to be with Tribe was a novelty. Zoom meetings got easier and smoother to attend. You still went to the same number of meetings except you didn’t have to find parking anymore. There were meetings all over the continent. You found yourself attending speaker meetings in Wisconsin, and Big Book studies in New York. You felt connected in your disconnectedness. You can tell your tribe (on line) that your attending a meeting every day. What a great way to get your sponsor off your back. The Dragon opened the other eye.
You know yourself much better now. It bubbled into your consciousness that you were fooling yourself. But with no tribe around you rationalized that as well. This is just a holiday, it won’t last long, everyone has to do this so I think I’ll just bake another loaf of bread. You do your 12 Step work online. You talk to your sponsor, you do notice however you’re not talking about the awakening Dragon. You recognize that your manipulating yourself, creating a new reality, but it’s based on old behavior. Is that enough to put the Dragon back to sleep? Let’s leave this speculation now. From here on in it can morph into any direction. Pick one. Ask yourself the following questions, and answer them truthfully:
Is your sense of belonging beginning to fray? Y[ ] No[ ]
Do you find yourself getting used to sheltering in place? Y[ ] N[ ]
Have you lied to others? Y[ ] N[ ]
Have you lied by omission? Y[ ] N[ ]
Does it feel awkward talking mask to mask at the grocery store? Y[ ] N[ ]
Do you privately worry about your isolation? Y[ ] N[ ]
Can you feel the hot breath of the Dragon? Hell Yeah! [ ] N[ ]