Here’s something on loneliness in Recovery. Also see here for Diane Haugh Moretti’s take on loneliness. Diane always has something good to read.

I challenged Diane Hugh Moretti to write on how Recovery Can Cause Loneliness… then took forever to respond to my own challenge.


It took a lot of working through, because not only do I go through all the challenges that any of us face when recovering from codependence, but add my own, older issues to the pile.

As we work through the steps, we learn a language of recovery and a philosophy of living that is not common. We learn to be more honest, and to expect honesty in return. We learn to socialize with others undergoing the same process, but we do not learn how to then easily deal with the others, all the others who were there before and afterwards remain. These are the people with whom we live, some acquaintances and others, friends. And as we change ourselves and look at the world with new eyes, we unknowingly ask the others to respond in ways that they cannot yet do.

And therein lies the root of the loneliness that recovery can create, in expectation. We, having learned a new way, expect others to respond.

They don’t. Often, they cannot. We are speaking a foreign language and they cannot understand.

In my case, I had years and years of the brutal abuse that can arise in a family dealing with drug addiction; abuse I dished out and received in equal measure. Abuse. It’s nothing less than abuse, no matter that we are broken and just trying to survive as we lash out with words and fists and manipulation.

And before that, I had the decades of trusting no one that arose from my learning at an early age that I could only trust myself.

What happens when you are abused as a child? What happens when you learn to silence yourself and step mute through the long years and years of your life, only to learn to speak again?

You cry out. You cry out in whatever manner and form that you can, in an unending primal scream of fear and outrage. You give voice to that unheard child. And when your new found language lets you speak, you do, but not always in ways that even your newfound fellows can understand. And sometimes what that child has to say cannot be said within your new language. Cannot be easily understood because it uses no words.

Do you expect a 6 year old to calmly and logically express their grief over losing the innocent trust of father figure? No, you expect that child to sob and scream in grief and fear and clutch at your for comfort and strike at you in fear when your unready hand reaches out to their demand.

So, now I know loneliness as another side of recovery. The loneliness of not being able to be heard and understood by the others, all the others who were there before and afterwards remain, and of those who do speak my new language. For they do not easily hear and understand the 6 year old child who speaks in tears and isolation and fear.

So, having learned that it is possible to have trust and love again, the child expects it from his new family and expecting becomes frustrated, and isolated, and knows loneliness as few others do.

Is it possible that recovery brings loneliness? Yes, of course. We have changed and travel new ground. That is a lonely path. Expect it, but don’t expect every traveler to be the same. Some limp on older, broken bones and weak limbs, and avoid your gaze, and walk on alone when not exchanging the currency of our new language.