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Growing out of isolation and into connection (article)

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When I was younger I found comfort and solace in isolation, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t lonely.

Growing up was a choice, a constant choice between isolation, and messy connections born from trauma responses and self destruction. Again and again, I chose isolation.

It simply never crossed my mind that there were more than two options. I was never shown more than two options. And when I was, my brain wouldn’t recognize it.

Isolation was comforting in the way a negative space could be comforting:

The lack of danger, the lack of emotional turmoil, the lack of heaviness, of constantly looking over my shoulder, of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was dark but I enjoyed the peace of being unseen.

You can condition the human brain to believe a lot of things.

You can condition it to associate one of the most powerful emotions in the world, one that can be the most positive life force, love:

with fear, with oppression, with suffocation, with obligation, and suddenly you’re a self perpetuating isolation machine because that was just how your brain grew to understand the world.

Much of recovery is an act of unconditioning, of reconditioning. Of taking your brain by the hand and showing it that connections can be good.

That love can be good. That it doesn’t have to feel like a free fall into chaos but a side by side stroll through the world together.

I thought I was free when I disconnected from the world. Maybe it was a type of freedom, sure. A necessary step and a necessary place to rest. But I couldn’t stay there forever.

So I took risks, leapt off the ledge of my comfort zone again and again, even when it hurt.

And when I found healing, healthy love it felt like breathing for the first time.

It was light, it was playful, it was peaceful.

I found that I had so much love to give, and there was also so much love to receive. To the world, from the world.

Not isolated to any specific context or person or thing, but as a holistic way to live life and as a way to connect.

And I felt free.