Learning to Live with Loneliness

One of the most pervasive emotions we deal with when struggling with our addictions is loneliness. Much of the time we’re trying to avoid feeling lonely and trying to escape our loneliness. We’re afraid to be alone, we’re afraid to feel the painful weight of loneliness, and our go-to coping mechanisms for loneliness are often what become the basis for our addictions.

We are afraid of our loneliness for different reasons. Sometimes we’re afraid to be alone with our painful thoughts. They make us feel desperate, hopeless, even like we’re losing our minds. Being alone with these thoughts and feelings can be really scary, so we use substances, behaviors and other people to try to mitigate them. Focusing outwardly on drugs, sex and relationships lessens our focus on our painful thoughts and feelings. Our time and energy are going to these other things, and they essentially serve as distractions. These unhealthy coping mechanisms don’t allow us to create the space within ourselves that we need to heal our wounds. Often we’re simply creating more woundedness.

Many of us experienced abandonment at some point in our lives, often as children, creating a deep fear within us of being abandoned again. We’re so afraid of the pain of abandonment that we will do anything not to feel it. Our loneliness triggers this fear of abandonment so we try to avoid it at all costs. We stay in toxic relationships. We use people. We neglect our need for solitude and healing. We feel an emptiness, or a void, within us, and we prioritize filling the void any way we can over fulfilling our needs. What we come to realize is that in trying to fill this void, we’re never actually filling it, we’re actually deepening it.

How we can really fill this void is by reconnecting with the truth of our inner selves. Who we are, what we love to do, what we love about life, what we are grateful for. Our hopes, dreams and goals. When we are able to refocus our energy on ourselves and the truth of who we are, we start to fill up the holes created from our woundedness with healthy alternatives rather than futile ways of distracting ourselves from loneliness that usually make us feel lonelier anyway. We begin to realize that we are all we need, and the more we focus on our healing, the more we learn to live with loneliness. We can even come to embrace our loneliness because it allows us to really reconnect with ourselves.

We understand firsthand the loneliness and other difficult challenges that can come with addiction and recovery. Call (800) 871-5440.