Learning from a Virus at a Distance

Perhaps it is about personal choice versus socially responsible behavior. It’s about social distancing and connection. It’s about self-preservation and compassion for others. It’s about being whole alone, with others and with the planet. It’s about feeling wholly alone, empty and disoriented.

These opposites are brought to us by coronavirus, novel as they may be.

The virus and its crisis expose our weaknesses and strengths. Rather than taking our chemical-of-choice to dull our fears and frustrations, or to enliven our otherwise bored days, we exercise health-supportive social skills. Learning how to navigate the internet and teleconference platforms in search of recovery resources and fellowship are challenges for this older alcoholic. Self-isolation would be so much easier if left to my own devices…

Recovery rises out of walking through fear and away from the familiar. Chemically enhanced friendships and pass-times are times passed. Pleasure comes from chores well done, reaching out to people who appreciate our check-in, smelling the flowers, a walk through the neighborhood.

Resilience is built by facing that which we once avoided. Well-practiced patterns of denial and avoidance are replaced with active pursuit of the truth and an openness to learning. Rather than resenting what is, we accept the obvious and move toward the possible and the positive. The gymnastics of creating the great virus conspiracy theory or doubting science and its messengers we eventually become exhausted.

In fatigue, we turn toward adult acceptance and then we move on.

Our freedom will grow from shedding defensive habits and our craving for normalcy. Perhaps this is the cusp of a new age. Taking a new course and direction, we renew and practice the creativity we retired since youth.

As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I know deprivation and the current value of social connection. Some have proposed that alcoholism is a disease of loneliness… addiction stems from the absence of connection. We came to replace human relationship and care with chemicals. The quiet satisfaction of friendship and love was replaced by our demands for ecstasy.

It is difficult to maintain the six-foot distance, to avoid social activities, and to resort to video screen time to replace in-person contact. Communication with words doesn’t substitute for the physical presence of others. My recovery from the disease of addiction/ alcoholism was founded upon trusting others and shaping my behavior to become trustworthy. Eventually I found comfort in groups of others in recovery.

Currency to buy groceries seems at this vantage point to be a more important asset. Going to work, shopping, hiking a trail with the dogs have new virtue. The virus has taught me to value my presence with others.

Did the virus bring awakening and gratitude? Perhaps at a distance these are small gifts but here and now they are great.


David, Twin Town (866) 594-8844 https://twintowntreatmentcenters.com