When using, I felt a connection to those using with me.
We were going through hell together, so how could a connection not exist?
I remember frequently thinking,
“If I never did heroin, I would not spend a second of my time with these people.”
Nonetheless, I thought that all our shared, traumatic experiences must mean something.
And they did.
They didn’t mean that a connection existed;
They meant that I was trying to cure my loneliness by being lonely with other people.
I belonged to the loneliest group I have ever experienced, as oxymoronic as that may be.
I never had any friends when using and I never was a friend when using.
I was just a passenger on a really shitty ship navigating the twisted seas of addiction with other passengers.
We were lonely together.
That was our connection.
I took advice that I got from somewhere (probably a psych unit):
Change people, places, and things in your life when you start the process of recovery.
I hated the thought.
If I was so incredibly lonely in the company of other addicts, I could only imagine how lonely I would feel if I did not even have that small amount of toxic connection. I decided to gamble and I took that advice… and it was completely magical.
I was alone, don’t get me wrong, but I was not lonely.
At first, I had no idea what to do. I had only known prostitution, sitting in cars in West Baltimore for hours, and violently puking while being unable to sleep, after all. I tried a few things to provide any degree of fulfillment: landscaping, cooking, hiking, reading, actually keeping up with hygiene for once.
I did not feel lonely, despite having my only human interactions come in the form of arguing with my mom and talking with people on Facebook. I never felt less lonely than I felt at this point and, ironically, it was the time when I was the most alone.
Today, I realize that heroin is not to blame for my unhealthy relationship with loneliness.
Even before the first time I danced with the devil and felt the false, temporary oblivion that heroin provides, I handled loneliness the same way. I sought out other lonely people and presented my own loneliness to them.
Commiseration was our only shared hobby—and boy were we good at it.
I figured that if I complained enough and if the complaints were mirrored, the loneliness would somehow melt away. It never did; it just intensified.
Today, despite being in a fulfilling relationship, even if my boyfriend is right next to me and we are having a good time, that loneliness still erupts inside of me occasionally. The difference now is that I have learned to sit in that emptiness.
Every time I explore my lonely thoughts, I come to the same conclusion:
I am feeling lonely because I am out of touch with myself.
I tell myself, “Chris, go for a damn walk. Make some damn hummus or something,” and when I do, I realize that the loneliness is doing nothing but helping me.
It is telling me to love myself.
It is telling me to be present.
It is telling me that I am not lonely at all.