Throughout my life and even in recovery, I've always felt a bit apart from everyone else. I don't know whether this comes from shyness or just my insecurities. When I was a kid, I didn't have many playmates, just a few kids in the neighborhood. Being an only child, I learned to play by myself and entertain myself. I was comfortable with that and would have lots of fun running through the woods, climbing trees, hiding out in a woodland overhang that was my special place, or just being in my room.
High school was confusing. I had friends that I hung with and some that I wanted to emulate. I think that I wanted desperately to be part of the group. I had a tough time though because my father was exerting a lot of control over me. There was criticism about my attitude and because of my desire not to be controlled, we would get into some real fights. If he had been drinking, I would be picked at. It wasn't much fun to bring friends home on the weekend because I didn't want them to see the home situation with my father. So, I would either be out of the house or in my room. I spent a lot of time thinking about where I would like to be (anywhere but in this small town) and how I couldn't wait to escape.
College was my first chance at real freedom. It was a great place to be. I enjoyed classes, weekends with road trips, hiking, and lots of opportunities for dates. I felt that I was finally able to be who I wanted to be. Although I still excelled with grades, I was always willing to try something new and was an instigator when it came to adventures. Sometimes, I think that others viewed me as too radical and too adventuresome. I didn't care because I had been held down for so long that finally my spirit could soar. I loved going on hikes to the nearby mountains. I got drunk for the first time in college and found that I didn't like it. I smoked week and hung out with some of the drugged up townies. I seemed to prefer the people on the margin rather than those solid down the middle of the road types.
After college, I went straight to graduate school. It was near my home town but I had my own place which was nice. It was in graduate school that I met a lot of free spirits, including a fascinating person (C.) who I later married. I know that the excitement I felt being in love was really about the fantasy of love. I didn't look at the person or actions in a real way. I wanted desperately for someone to love me but when you fall for an alcoholic suffering from depression, the relationship is pretty much f**ked from the beginning. We found ways to torture each other emotionally. I would go out with other people but never felt that same pull as I did with C. When I would go to parties, C. would be drinking, and I would generally leave because it was too painful to watch. I felt a great aloneness during this period. I knew that it would be hard for me to stop loving this person who was messing up my mind.
Sometime during the early stages of work on my Ph.D., C. and I had a meeting of the minds and decided to get married. We never really had many official dates because there were always parties on campus and we could just walk. It wasn't a culture for going out to eat or to the movies. We spent a lot of time with each other though and would spend the night together as much as we could. Those times should have been happy, but I remember them as being sad because I never got the sense that C. was ever really happy. I wanted happiness for both of us so blamed myself for not being able to provide it.
It's funny how you look back and know that you've made a mistake before an event happened. The night before we were to be married, I thought that I was making the wrong decision. By this point, I had witnessed the self-pity, rages, depression, drunken stupors, and a host of other things that suggested C. had issues. I just chose to ignore all the signals and think that I could take care of it all through love. What a joke!
So we were married and things rolled along as they had before. I loved C. a lot but C. never really opened up. There was always a feeling of holding back true feelings. All of this just compounded the thoughts that I've had all my life about being apart from others. We would go to social events and after I while, I felt as if I were alone in a room full of people who were enjoying themselves. I didn't like small talk and couldn't wait to leave. I didn't want to talk about careers, houses, bank loans, and all the other BS that people at parties talk about. I wanted to find out what was in the other person's head. I wanted to ask whether he or she felt as alone as I did and as lost. I probably connected with a few people during that time and was able to find another few kindred souls in search of themselves.
Now after years have gone by, I've decided that it's okay to just be me. It's not so bad to be alone in a room full of people. I can actually step back and look at everyone laughing and talking and smile. I have met lots of people in Al-Anon and AA. A few of them know me very well and those are the ones that I share my innermost thoughts with. People at work know me in a professional sense but no one knows the desperation that I've felt from living with alcoholism. I don't think that there are many people outside of the program who would understand. As I've gotten more and more comfortable with who I am, I've been able to accept myself and realize that I'm a pretty good person.