Some thoughts on Isolation and Connection

I am thinking a lot about isolation lately.  I know I have isolated due to big fears.  I didn’t really even understand the depth of the fear.  When the world begins to feel unsafe you can start to make up stories about life that may not be real.  They may be true  based on past experience but are not truly about today and you don’t know that your thoughts are not just the inner protector on overdrive.  Ideally our inner protector should enable us to connect and take time out if and when things feel difficult or there are some red flags when we find ourselves in company that just doesn’t get us or is emotionally invalidating.  Ideally we shouldn’t just have to isolate to stay safe and cut off all life, as connection is important,  connection of the necessary kind but if we have been abused or traumatised developing a safe inner protector is huge work.  We may have never fully learned self protection and self care.

Thinking more about isolation has also been prompted since I started going back to AA a short while ago  I left meetings behind about 10 years ago.  I had got into therapy and that was an important move for me, but its hard sometimes just to have therapy and no other connections much.  In the meetings isolation comes up as a big theme.  People who are prone to addictions have often had very difficult attachments in early life or at some stage in life. We don’t seem to have developed a healthy inner parent to our inner child and we may have had very challenging or damaging experiences of loss of pain or trauma that drove us to isolate and pick up substances to ease the pain.

In the rooms the connection regarding this may not yet have been made by those in early sobriety but they still talk a lot about feeling different, lonely or set apart.  They talk about unkind thoughts in their heads that try to keep them disconnected from others.  When we can be in a meeting and can honestly share our inside with others, including these tormenting thoughts we find walls start to tumble down.  As we are voicing fears, feelings and pain others have experienced but may have been to scared to reveal to others a flood gate can open.  We can feel that we are not struggling alone, that others can and do understand.  But we need to be careful too, not to blame ourselves when we are really trying to grow, learn and heal.

Going back to meetings has made me realise there is a great difference between acquaintances and true connections.  I have acquaintances here where I live but we often cant touch base on the deeper things and I don’t always experience the kind of connection I feel with others who go through difficulties and have deeper sensitivities.  This is what I am learning about myself lately.

Since challenging my family recently with some hard truths they don’t call any more.  Its okay if I can focus on the things I love to do and make me feel good. For example I love Carl Jung and so today I spent most of the morning writing a blog on Carl and seeking out some of his quotes on line.  I also find that online I can find those kinds of connections that are deeper and more emotionally nourishing.  Its better in the long run to do this than to loose myself in others who I don’t really connect with.

I also know that a sense of inner isolation ends when I listen to what I want to do and what makes me happy instead of reaching out to others who I don’t seem to have much in common with just for the sake of not being alone.

Considering the part isolation has played in my life and how it relates to fear of rejection (as opposed to just needing solitary time to connect) I think my old fear of rejection may have come up after the meeting on Sunday and I am not sure why.  I am aware that self protection is not a bad thing, I just don’t want to get isolated but then (and you can probably hear the wheel spinning inside my head here) I know that the worst isolation is isolation from the core of myself and what I love.  But I am still a bit lonely here in my so called ‘home’ town.

That said it also seems to me that the path of awareness and consciousness often involves significant time alone.  It seems to me that the highly attuned and sensitive amongst us are often the ones most likely to be scapegoated. We don’t always fit into the mainstream and we may be looked down upon.  For example, where you told in your family you needed not to be SO SENSITIVE?  Were you told you needed to be something else than what you are and your life would be so much better if you would just change?  Where your real hopes, needs, dreams and ideas laughed at sometimes.  I know mine were.

Luckily now I have a therapist who really gets me and who I love.  She never tells me I need to feel, think, do, be different.  She clocks my harsh self criticism and inappropriate self judgement.  She is real, connected, deeply engaged unlike many other therapists I have had.

All in all I have had about 7 therapists in all over the years and apart from the first one who I left after she went on a very long break and things fell apart as she provided no else to step in at a time I was very vulnerable, I didn’t really connect with many of them emotionally.

My current therapist is going away for a month in 10 days or so.  We talked about it yesterday. Part of me feels tired of therapy and feels like I need a break but I know I will also miss her a great deal (I see her twice a week) and the tiredness may be sadness that I will miss her and a bit of anger that she is leaving me to go away.  (While the adult part of me understands and wishes her well.)  There is the deeper memory too of how things blew apart 15 years ago when my last good therapist left me alone for too long.

I know without much other support it will be lonelier for the month that she is gone.  But there are also things that I can do so that I don’t get too isolated.  And in this blog I am at least talking about it.  I now realise there are complex feelings around this break, something I was not aware of and could perhaps not have articulated so clearly before.  I see that while I need and am nourished by alone time, too much of it can sometimes be a trigger for old pain.  And that I do have a choice and can try to reach out, I just have to be aware that I am reaching towards the right places and for the right reasons.

Anyway fellow bloggers and followers do connect up with me if you feel you can or want to.  Your support and encouragement means so much to me and I learn and am nourished so much by what you share in your own blogs here.  I have been so thankful for those of you who have reached out to me in times of deepest sadness.  Thank you.

3 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Isolation and Connection

  1. Great thoughts on this issue. Here’s a small one of mine – you mentioned about the difference between acquaintances and those we connect with and it made me think of something I lately figured out. I’d go for long periods of isolation and then maybe meeting someone I clicked with and would become friends with. Then that friend would be gone for one reason or I’d feel I was betrayed and I’d be back to full isolation and afraid to share myself with anyone again. There wasn’t any in between with me.

    I’ve learned to meet people and allow myself to place them in the acquaintance category if that’s where they’d fit and not have to share my inner life with them if I didn’t feel it appropriate. I know it’s funny but that was a revelation to me. It’s a way of having two or three people to say hi to or do something simple with without fearing that I’m losing my privacy or feeling fear from revealing my inner self too soon. Boundaries, I guess they call that, and I’m learning how to to practice that for myself.

    It’s great you have a good therapist – that’s a valuable thing to have, as you know.

    1. That is really true, PG. We don’t have to always connect deeply with others for that relationship to have something to give us. It may be asking a bit too much. Its okay to have people you just share an activity with. As long as you get yourself and have one person who fulfils that need. I really appreciate your insights and you sharing your thoughts. Thank you.

    2. And thinking about it more, I guess its about accepting where others are at and that we don’t have to totally disconnect if we don’t get needs met or feel unfulfilled once or twice. Maybe the problem being it triggers old pain and then we transfer a lot of other feelings onto it. It really helps to have that reality check from you. Thanks again.

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