California Sen. Kamala Harris recently stated an important fact in an NBC interview: During this critical time, it is just as important to reduce emotional distance as it is to increase social distance.
Those of us in addiction recovery learn that isolation is dangerous. Nurturing relationships every day is not just a key to staying sober and clean, it builds character and emotional health.
For most of us, this is a progression. We enter treatment or recovery groups governed by our fears and instincts to withdraw from others. We grudgingly smile when someone smiles at us. We advance to answering a question, unsure of our own voice.
Slowly we open a door to those we see in a recovery space, finding out there is such a thing as friendship without an obligation – care without a price. Days or weeks go by as we gain confidence and trust.
With these emotional supports, the noise coming from our limbic brain demanding chemical satisfaction begins to fade. Yes, we learn the facts about addiction and healing. But just as important, we feel the grace that allows us to broaden our lives and enrich our living.
As we move beyond our first experience in a recovery group, we sometimes are jolted as we face new relationships on the job, in our living situation, and in our networks.
It’s hard to believe that we have actually learned new tools for emotional health through relationships. And these new tools work as we enter new groups – in recovery, but also at work and in every facet of our lives.
So right now, when social distance is critical for our physical health, let’s not neglect our emotional health.
Make a list each morning of the voices you would like to hear. Call, text and email these friends. Share your day. Exchange news and stories.
Remember that every time you reach out, you are giving as well as receiving.