I didn’t have close friends before I got sober.
I thought that people were friendly to me because they needed something from me. My worth as a person depended on what I could do for you. I resented feeling that way. I used to say that people were inherently not trustworthy. I used that as the reason why I didn’t have friends.
While in rehab I came to the realization that I most likely didn’t have friends because I didn’t allow people to get close to me. I kept them at a distance so I wouldn’t hurt as much when they went away. I often felt abandoned and lonely.
I didn’t bother to learn people’s names because I thought they wouldn’t stick around long enough, so why bother? I was raised by people who did not know how to keep their promises so I was often disappointed and guarded.
I was also a chameleon. I would change personalities to be who I thought you needed me to be. I was never real so how could I expect people to get close to me if they didn’t know who I was? I never accepted help. I didn’t want to feel indebted. I thought people kept tabs like I did.
In sobriety I’ve learned that the fastest way to make a new friend is to ask for help. People love to feel needed. I know I do. I just have to be careful no to go beyond the point of resentment.
I now take the time to learn people’s names, even when I know that some of them will only be around for a short time.
I now believe that people, no matter how “evil” they may seem, are intrinsically good. Knowing this makes it easy for me to relate to the people around me. Whenever somebody appears to be mean and nasty, I choose to believe that it is a cry for help, for love.
That was certainly my case. I didn’t know, or wanted to ask for help/love because I was afraid of getting hurt. I am still afraid of rejection but I now know that if I keep the walls up that protected me from all the bad stuff, those same walls will keep the good stuff out as well.
Caring for others, being of service, giving back, whatever you want to call it, is a way to build relationships. This is important because I cannot stay sober without my fellow addicts/alcoholics. I need their strength, experience, and hope. Don’t you?
From Angela - USA