I remember the isolation, disconnection and loneliness of being misunderstood by my family. Although my Mum tried her best, I think we were just on different pages. Dad wasn’t really around much and my sister and I used to fight like cats and dogs.
What causes the disconnection and isolation?
Many things, different for each person. What could make one person feel disconnected is very different to another. That’s down to many factors.
For me as the daughter of an alcoholic, I didn’t have time with my Dad and his words never made me feel like I was a priority. It never felt like he cared in the way I’ve now learnt a parent should care. It mostly came across that he was controlling and demanding. He wanted things to a strict regimented routine, which isn’t surprising as he was in the army.
Feeling rejected when I said something to him or did something he didn’t agree with, that made me feel even more disconnected to him. I also felt disconnected to my Mum, she was the one that kept the house running, the one that kept the routine.
Unfortunately, she was so busy doing all that, I felt she didn’t have time for me. It wasn’t just the time thing, it was that she just didn’t get me. Her actions to make me feel better, generally only came after I pointed out how I felt and then it didn’t feel authentic.
With that, I started to isolate myself, especially where Dad was around or arguments were starting. I didn’t want to put myself in danger or be in the firing line. What’s the point being around people that make me feel like I don’t matter?
Please be mindful of the fact this is memories I remember, they aren’t fact. We distort them over time and what actually happened may be different. That said, we have to deal with what is causing us the upset and distress now, that’s all we have.
How can the loneliness make us feel?
I started to question things, alot. Was it my fault, would Dad stop drinking if I behaved better or acted in a different way. I tried a variety of things, none of which stopped him drinking or changed how I felt.
Ultimately I know that nothing I did was going to have an influence on my Dad’s drinking, he was too far down the road for that.
My loneliness made me feel unworthy, unlovable, often questionning and blaming myself. Feeling like a bad person. When you’re in a place where you don’t really feel connected and deeply understood, it’s so isolating. The hurt deep inside is hard to soothe, I never learnt to self-soothe as a child so I would look for ways to do that. I remember going to the amusements and playing the card machines, it gave me a rush and at that moment it’s what I needed.
How can you help your loneliness?
The opposite of disconnection is connection. When you feel truly connected, either to yourself or others that is when you’ll start to feel better. We can’t avoid loneliness, we will all experience it at some point, for a moment, an hour or more. When you start to work on how to feel connected, you have skills and plans in place for those times when you find yourself feeling lonely.
Sometimes it can be OK to sit with that feeling, to recognise that’s how you feel and let it sit there for a moment. What’s it telling you? Is it a reminder that you’re disconnected?
I’ve found Facebook groups are good, they’re online and you can access them with your smartphone, laptop or in a public place so you can always reach out. Either that or face to face things like the gym, swimming, sports groups, social groups.. all the usual things your hear about.
However, one of the most powerful ways to feel connected, is to start looking at how you connect with yourself. How well do you really know your mind, body and spirit. Do you believe in a higher power for example? What are your beliefs and values? It may seem off on a tangent, but when you know yourself well, you know what makes you happy and you connect to it.
Your loneliness of being misunderstood can also be connected to how well you understand, support and love yourself.
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Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Change Your Mind Facebook group, where other families of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
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