If you’re like many people, you’ve probably learned a few things about yourself during this time of a mandatory lockdown. Whether good or bad, some of our personality traits get really exposed when we’re no longer able to distract ourselves, and life falls into a certain kind of monotony, and we only get to play one or two versions of our selves (our work self or our social self are currently on hold). Maybe you end up fighting with your spouse more, and maybe you’re finding that you’re not enjoying having your kids around all the time, or maybe you’re finally learning that you’re not doing well without having some solitude. Then there are those of us who had to self-isolate alone and who genuinely feel sick from not having been touched. Finally, there are those of us who oscillate between desperately wanting to be around others and desperately wanting solitude. This is something that many folks in recovery will recognize as familiar, that paradoxical state of “come-here-go-away.”
What we all have in common is the fact that we all depend on each other in one way or another and that now is probably a good time to work on our relationships. After all, nobody’s going anywhere for a while. Paying attention to how we are with other people is especially important now because we’re setting up the stage for the future, and the best kind of a future is the one we look forward to. I know for some it’s a tall order to ask to work on relationships in the time of crisis—and in some instances, it’s just not possible to do so—but if we see this time as an opportunity, we might be able to gain from it rather than lose. All those jokes about how divorce rates will skyrocket after the lockdown is over are cute, but they also show our general attitude of looking at things from the place of hopelessness. We need each other more than ever now, and we can see all around us how helping as a chain reaction produces the best results. All those people making masks for free, delivering groceries, donating money and time—it’s an unprecedented level of unconditional help happening around us. It’s something to pay attention to and something to admire and adapt to our own lives.
I’ve learned over and over that addiction is a disease of isolation. Almost no one can get better in a vacuum. But it’s usually personal relations that have suffered throughout active addiction. It’s a monumental task to try to repair those, but I’m here to tell you that it’s possible, even when it seems undoable. Kindness, patience, and honesty are some of the main ingredients of success. And like everything else, they take time to master. But if all we have right now is time, why not use it to take care of each other, pay attention to each other’s needs? A mutual exchange of support can only deepen our understanding of one another and can help us get through this together.
Before you stop picking up the phone or stop texting your friends (or stop attending on-line meetings), consider pushing through the hopelessness you might feel. Before you storm out of the room, annoyed by your loved one, look inside yourself and ask: is it worth it? We are living in historical times, and it’s up to us to make the best memories we can in these trying circumstances. Let’s save ourselves and save our relationships. We’ll need those more than ever to be able to rebuild.