In the early days of my recovery (and throughout my many years of active addiction) I found people terrifying. Coming in ones was bad enough but multiples – particularly when sitting on chairs in a circle – would have me gibbering. Add in situations where I might have to actually speak. Well let’s just say that sticking pins in my eyes would have been a much more attractive option.
Yet I needed to connect. Needed to talk. Needed to be part of something.
Like many addicts I am a natural isolator. I can find one million and one interesting and fascinating things that I can do on my own. Faced with a choice between socialising and ironing I am the one with the razor sharp creases in trousers that I don’t go out in.
I am adept at arguing that sharing comments with fellow dog walkers on the beauty, intelligence and incredibly good behaviour of our canine companions (true, obviously in the case on my four) represents meaningful social interaction and is good for my recovery.
Well, it is in some ways – but I am willing to concede that perhaps, just perhaps, it is not really connection on the level that I need.
As I have got older in my recovery I am better at kicking my own backside out of the door. Please do not try this at home – it takes practice. But sometimes I feel that also involves slipping on a mask. Not alcohol latex any more, but nonetheless some sort of barrier. People are still scary in person.
This is why blogs, and blogging, are so important to me.
There is an irony in being more yourself with people you may not know but there is a truth in it too. The written word, rather than the spoken, is a different way of communicating. It feels deeper somehow, definitely more reflective and often more a letter to myself than anyone else. Although a letter I am happy for others to read and comment on. And vice-versa.
And – by some strange anti-isolationist paradox – I have found that being intimate on-line has helped me build connections that I never would have made had I partied like it’s 1999 throughout my six years of recovery.
I have also learned so much, shared so much, begun the process of getting my head around what getting well really means.
I was extremely lucky to have, and be involved in, Wired In and have mourned its loss along with many others. in2recovery is not so much an attempt to recreate those heady times as this old recovery movement of ours has moved on. But it is an attempt to create a space for people who find they need to talk and share, but need a different way to do it. And a way for all those sparkly bits of wisdom people have picked up along the way to shed their light on others.
I guess when we talk about visible, contagious recovery our first thought is people in public on platforms, and some of it is. But we can also spread the virus on-line, and reach out to fellow isolationists at the click of a mouse.
Michaela Jones is Community Director of in2recovery, Director of The Dry Umbrella CIC which focuses on creating drug and alcohol free spaces across Greater Manchester and is actively involved in building recovery communities.
Visit in2recovery here, take in the blogs and try clicking the recovery mouse yourself.