Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alone with the killer

Following yesterday's post, I was thinking (sometimes dangerous for me) about how a perceived feeling of hopelessness can feed on itself, growing tentacles until it permeates every fiber of our being. I've sat in restaurants, which is one of my favorite places to people watch, and observed how alone people seem even when they are with another. Just a few days ago, I watched the blank stares of a middle aged couple, intent on chewing and staring at their mashed potatoes as if they were tea leaves foretelling the future.

I would wonder what these two were thinking. And why weren't they looking at each other, or saying something even if it was a trite comment such as "This gravy is a little watery." Yet, each seemed oblivious to the other, each lost in thought. Unfortunately, I don't think that this is unique. From my own experience, I've been in a room of over a hundred people and felt as alone as if I were on an iceberg floating in the southern ocean.

Such retreating inside my head was never a good choice for me. And that's because I tend to think too much, over analyzing just about everything. I often catch myself talking out loud when there is nobody in the room. Although most of you will say, "okay Syd, you are over the edge and ready for the rubber room", I can tell you that speaking something out loud that is stuck in a "do loop" in my head helps.

I think that is probably because I need to export the stuff that I'm thinking out of my head. I need to get out of myself and stop having a monologue about me. Because when I'm in my own head, oblivious to what or who is around me, then I am alone with the "killer".

This "killer" keeps me isolated, insecure and full of fear. It keeps me unaware, shut down, and will eventually kill all joy that I could experience. So what I see on many faces as I people watch is that they are alone with their "killer". I can see the thoughts grinding in their head as they chew their food. I don't know what their thoughts are, but I can bet that they aren't about adventure, excitement, joy, or spontaneity.

Suffering in silence seems to be a tragic part of alcoholism. One of the astounding things about being in recovery is that all the silent suffering I did, all the intellectualizing, all the hurtful thoughts that I kept inside, did nothing to make the problem go away. In fact, it only made me feel worse. I think each of us has been alone with the "killer", but I don't have to do that anymore. I may still suffer, but I don't have to do it alone.

I think that is one of the greatest things about recovery. I get to sit in a room full of other people several times a week, listen to them, be aware of their tears, their laughter, their smiles, their fidgeting hands and legs, and become free of what is in my own head. And instead of talking out loud to the ether, I get to say to others, and to my Higher Power, what is on my mind, and they get it. That is an awesome thing.


  1. I love this post. It is raw and true. It reminds me of one rainy autumn day a few years ago. I was in Grasse (I live in the south of France) and had just visited a famous perfumery. I was heady with love and life was literally smelling of roses. We went into a crowded cafe and ordered a hot chocolate. The door opened and I felt a black cloud come in, I turned around to see an ordinary looking man but one I was convinced was suicidal. I felt moved to write him a note. I tore off a piece of newspaper and wrote:"perdez pas l'espoire". Don't lose hope. I walked to is table, handed it to him and walked away. My boyfriend was furious. I would not tell him what the note said. The man slowly unfurled it. He kissed it and placed it in his breast pocket. He turned and looked out the window with new eyes.

  2. I hear you Syd. I also hear my own deadly loops too often. Unfortunately for me, the monster will unleash when I'm with people and the "attack' will go against THEM. Shutting my head off is a good goal for me to have. Good post.
    I loved kerrycharacters story too.jeNN

  3. Yes, you are so right. I too have spent far too much time with the killer you speak of and what a waste of precious time. Thank you for sharing these insightful thoughts, Syd...a very good reminder for me today. Peace, Jeanne

  4. It's good to let it out, absolutely, and engage with others as you said. But another thing I find excellent at neutralizing the monster is my iPod. Which might seem to be isolating, but actually isn't at the right time.

    There are times when I put the earphones on and go off listening to "Layla" -- Derek and the Dominos -- over and over. Or maybe "Whipping Post" or you know, Serenade for Strings in C Major -- Tchaikovsky -- if I decide that's the way to defeat the monster. It helps me get back to myself, it really does.

  5. This post speaks straight to the heart of who I chose to be. Someone who is not willing to bottle up what "ails" me. If I am thinking it, it goes on the keyboard or outloud. I talk to the pets sometimes too. They don't talk back so I know it's a great way to be open without interuption. Many others are afraid to open up with what is on their minds and I see how it edits their life. I say live open & free without regret. Be mindful of the company you keep and be sure you married your best friend. Sometimes, we may need those silences and only a true friend would really get the meaning of "mission" as I call them.

    Great post once again Syd.

  6. And I bet they all do 'get it' too Syd, because you are the most brilliant communicator of feelings. How true about being alone with the 'killer' - indeed a killer of all joy and communication with those around us. I am in my third month of recovery with Al Anon and it is only in the last two or three days that the joy is beginning to creep back into me and it is the most fantastic feeling. Up until recently I felt completely numb and so full up with anxiety, fear and being in 'control' that there was no room for anything else and I was numb. Through talking and listening at meetings I now feel that there is some room inside me for feelings, moral consciousness, communication with people around me and, yes, joy - and it feels so good!

    At the moment I am only able to get to one meeting a week and your posts are a marvellous 'top-up' in between. God Bless you Syd, you are a good man.

  7. Dear Syd,

    This is a very interesting post. Causing me to think from another perspective. I will deliberate on your post.

    I have always felt differently about being alone but perhaps it is from me never really being alone and always being surrounded by people at work seeking counsel and from family doing the same.

    Lately I have observed two people in my family, father-in-law and my brother that cannot be alone with themselves. They are so adverse to being alone they seek out partners that actually not good for them, not in an alcohol or drug sense but in a sense their parteners (girlfriends) "use" them. What is truly amazing both of them admit they are being used but by their own admission cannot stand to be alone. I have been thinking about that for quite a while and what does that mean?

    My conclusions are that they were so uncomfortable being alone they must not like themselves. A very low value of self.

    My experiences for myself is that I relish my time in solitude to deliberate. Solitary contiplation is to me like gold. I dream, I plan and most importantly I set goals and develop my route to acheive those goals.

    My thoughts are just because a person is alone doesn't mean they are lonely. Because someone has a solemn look does not mean they are troubled. However, I have never been troubled with an addiction or alcoholism, other than being the father of an addict.

  8. for me when i am alone it is with my addict. so you can call it a killer. i have been so busy with the holiday i have not had time for blogging. i miss it very much. we have our counseling tonight. i am so angry right now and my thoughts are in my head doing exactly what you described. so i don't know. i will take a shower and work on my day care paperwork. we finally got the fire extinguisher mounted. so i am waiting for the fire marshal to come and give me clearance to get my license. take care, i will try to post tonight.

  9. If I talked to you, the way I sometimes talk to myself, you would probably have me arrested and take out a restraining order! I am my own worst enemy and killer of all joy. Great description of the problem and the solution!

  10. i used to feel so alone in a crowd of people, its only recently that I have atarted feeling so content and happy between my ears.
    Cough meds, yes I got to be real careful with that especially codeine ones.
    Adventures Out Of The Body - William Buhlmer look it up, it really works

  11. That is one of the greatest things I now have - being able to speak to my sponsor, speak in meetings, talk to sponsees, talk with other recovering people. I can, as you put it, "export the stuff that I'm thinking out of my head".

    It is a miracle to be able to get the garbage out of my head and interrupt that merry-go-round thinking.

    Great post as always, Syd.

  12. I liked that idea of "exporting" the thoughts in your head. The saying we have in AA, Just because my is head is attached to my shoulders does not make it my friend, rings true with me. When I'm in a dark mood, I'm in a bad neighborhood, and I need not to be there alone. In recovery, I have fewer of those bad head trips. Since my visit to the mental hospital, I have had none at all. Thank God we don't have to do anything alone anymore.

  13. I love and relate to this article. It's a very dark day indeed when my thoughts trap me alone and I can find no way out.

    Blessings and aloha...

  14. I have just had coffee with a friend also in recovery and this is just what we were talking about. I love the way you have named 'the killer' so true our thoughts can kill joy. I am grateful for your posts, you often create clarity in my mind with your words. Thank you.

  15. Thanks Syd sitting in the rooms takes me out of my spin in my head. It is also a safe place for me to share what is going on in my life. My meditation has also given me an opportunity to detach and watch the thoughts that enter and then leave my mind. This is a road to freedom for me having a choice from the insanity that spins it tales.

  16. alone in a crowd. yip, sounds familiar. and nothing wrong with talking to yourself either. and don't you dare say otherwise, else i'd have to consider me being crazy too, heee hee heee. you are such a great example of how a programme can work if practiced with dedication.

  17. Yes I totally understand this feeling ... I am a long term depressive .. battling to stay off my meds .. again !
    But I disappear into myself .. even with my family around me and a day like I have today .. Alone . I look forward to but fear at the same time . It is precious but I dont want to waste it and yet I dont know what I want either..I often have to play music to have an excuse to song along so to utter a sound

  18. I love the miracle of recovery that gets me out of myself. I too, fear speanding too much time focusing in upon myself. Reading blogs, sharing at meetings, talking with other AA's helps me to avoid this.

    Then I go back to me.

  19. This is a great post, Syd. I talk out loud to myself also sometimes. It helps to clarify things for me.

    In my marriage, my husband and I were that couple at the table not talking. It is sad, but good, that I am finally moving on. I found out that you can be married and still be alone.

    Love you.


  20. This is an amazing post, I cannot stay in my head too much, but like you I do talk it outside of myself when alone, it helps me to discern and also to let go.

    I love to people watch and sadly like you I see many people who are quite despairing looking...I love the story that kerrycharacters shared...how amazing, it's amazing how we connect and love one another.

    xo Gabi

  21. I can relate to this so much. Being in a house full of five children apart from when they are in bed the only 'alone' time I get is often in the car. And that is when thoughts go around and around my head.....I often find myself in tears.
    It's got better since seeing a counsellor and writing thoughts on my blog.

  22. EXCELLENT POST. I have been in this place and it is a damaging, cruel place. It is as you say a "killer".

  23. Wow- I relate on so many levels.

    I'm really glad I found your blog.

    I think you are so right about the way people sit and eat together. I have always found that curious too.

  24. Though I'm not an alcoholic, I still suffered the effects of the "killer"... secluded from loved ones, alone in my own little world, thinking and analyzing. This pattern of behavior seems to be followed by many people whom have suffered from emotional trauma in their lives. Learning to deal with the killer has been somewhat difficult, but hope has brought me a long way. Thank you so much for sharing your insight. I appreciate your writing.


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