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I’m not sure why, but I tend to have trouble with friends, or more precisely, making and keeping friends. Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends, two is the exact number. I guess you could add my husband to that shortlist to make three. I used to have lots of friends. When I drank and used, my social diary was extensive. There was rarely a weekend that I stayed home and I looked forward to being out.

As I got a little older and became a part of the recovery community, I met new people and there were coffee and recovery events, meetings, meetings after the meetings, you know the drill. But I never really seemed to gel with anyone specifically. I thought I did for a while. There was a group of women at my homegroup, some of which I’d known in my drinking days, that I got friendly with. We met up all the time, texted daily and I thought that I had really found my people. Then I saw a picture on Facebook of one of the women in the group who had a 40th birthday celebration. Everyone was there, including the other women from the group. I didn’t get an invite. Why? I don’t know. I was really hurt and felt so rejected. It caused me to leave my home group and find another one because everything felt so awkward from then on. There would be polite hellos when they saw me, but they made no secret about the fact I wasn’t included anymore.

It’s always been this way

This is nothing new for me though. I have experienced this since childhood and became a bit of a loner quite early on. In my teens, I guess my ability to socialize was due, in no small part, to alcohol. I’m not even sure if, back then, during my partying days, anyone really liked me. All know is that I felt relaxed when I was drunk and I loved to party. I always felt socially awkward as a child and definitely as a teenager and that hasn’t really changed much. I’m good with people I know really well, but strangers are terrifying to me. If I can’t connect on some level with someone in a new group in the first five minutes I’m screaming inside to leave.

Due to my past trouble with friends, I much prefer to avoid social interaction where I have to talk to new people. I tend to spend a lot of time at home and I’ve even found a way to work from home. I keep myself busy but there is always this low-lying level of loneliness simmering under my skin. Sometimes that feeling is very present and can become overwhelming. I envy my husband’s ability to interact with everybody. When I’m with him at social events I definitely do better but then feel a little like I’m a burden. The fear that seeps into me is stifling and I almost leave my own body sometimes. I can observe my own awkwardness if that makes sense.

Finding a solution

I’ve attended online recovery meetings and talked to therapists, my sponsor and my doctor about this but I’m yet to find a solution. I know that I’m the common denominator here and maybe because I was rejected from and early age by friends, I’ve come to expect it so maybe make it happen. It’s one of the promises that hasn’t come true for me, but it’s something I’m willing to keep working on. I also understand that there are millions of people just like me out there in the world. Acceptance of how it is for now, keeps me ticking over, and maybe having trouble with friends is something I’ll always struggle with.




  1. ‘re Trouble with Friends. Yes I get this . It reminds me that Fear shuts me out of many things including a social life. But I now have a 12 Step Programme to work on the fear. It’s often hard work but it works. Then I can go out and talk to people both inside and outside the Fellowship..

  2. After reading this article I know how this person felt because for me making and keeping friends was very difficult because I lost trust and such because of all the years I messed my life up but I know I have lots of folks today since being clean and sober but I just have to realize this and move on.

  3. Hi I totally identify with you , it’s like you were writing my experience down. I’m 62 now and I’m still the same , I ask myself why does this happen, how can I change ?

    I’ve had lots of therapy looking at my behaviour patterns and stepping out of them to hopefully end up with a different result. It’s worked in so many areas but not this one. I have got to a place where I accept that this is how I am , a bit of a loner . That I do struggle socially and with friends .
    I have a few good friends, very good friends and I’m happy with that, I consider. Myself very lucky and am eternally grateful 🥹 for the friends I have . I didn’t have any when I was using ! Now I have a handful of great friends , how lucky am I

  4. I completely relate with your post. I always felt awkward, but when my family moved from NJ to NY in in 2nd grade, 1989. I left friends behind and had to meet others. When I started to establish friendships, my mom and her boyfriend split and back to the hometown in NJ in my 5th grade…same friends I had, no longer wanted to know me. Worse, my mother forced my way into their birthday parties, by negotiating with the parents. Talk about rejection! My 2nd grade best friend through a fit, crying and yelling at me, “this is MY birthday and I DON’T WANT YOU TO BE HERE!!”
    My mom and her BF got back together and so 6th grade, I’m back to NY in 6th grade and my best friend from the prior year is now MOVING to FLORIDA. The friends I made next… nothing but drama and rejection. I’ve become a loner since then. I am not capable of keeping friends. Something about that part of my life made me awkward and needy as a friend. Lots of therapy ahead, if I want to fix it. At 41, I’m tired and don’t care enough to change it. I work with people and friendships just feel like more work than their worth! Now I have 2 dogs 🙂
    Thanks for your share.

  5. Guitar Gypsy Reply

    Birds of a feather flock together, friends can be asset or a liability. I read someplace ” Blessed is the man that walks not in the council of the Ungodly. ” The spiritual path has to be walked alone, sometime its called the razor path, scripture says narrow is the way. Sometimes people can come into your life and waste your time, you got to find common ground or have things in common. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

  6. I was also glad to read your column. I can so relate. It _can_ get better. I love the acceptance that you are giving yourself. I wish I would have had it with myself throughout the decades I went through it. It is hard. Two friends are a treasure, though. There is a chance for authenticity and depth. Too many casual friends can give you fun moments, here and again, but sometimes our souls need to be seen more deeply. I also have a handful of them, and other more casual ones that I know are just for a season.

    For me, from my experience, strength, and hope, I do not believe this is something we can just work out or fix in our minds. It is a physical and emotional thing –we need to release the impact of that trauma at that level as well. That takes a lot of perseverance, and little consistent steps, one day at a time. From reading your article, I can see you are willing and committed. You are brave. You are real. Real scares some (a lot) people who cannot be real with themselves, or are afraid that bad luck is contagious. That says more about them than it says about you.

    Another thing I do is volunteer with animals and children. This fulfills the sense of purpose that, as far as I can tell, all of us humans needs. It allows my loving parent to come out. How I speak with the children, I make a mental note to speak to my precious little girl that way, too. Listen to her as intently. Animals are also the best. No judgment, just pure furry love. And my little girl loves it. It fills my heart.

  7. Allison Sergio Reply

    This is me. But it doesn’t matter now I’m good being alone. Actually I am at my best at home alone with my dogs. Do I isolate, wel Yeah! But I love it. I got to church and church groups and have a couple of close friends I see. It’s this way with family too. I except it and I’m good. It’s part of acceptance

  8. i feel the same…. im just realiizing all of this in the past year. my boyfriend died, i moved back to nj to be with him. he was my only. now alone in an small efficiency goin out of my mind at times. sober almost 5 yrs. no rehab noAA tiill recently. having hard time with life . god is good. i know everything will be ok. just doesent feel like it. im was a beeter lonely drinker then a sober one… sad in nj

  9. I identified strongly with a number of things that you said. In therapy, were you ever diagnosed with Social anxiety disorder? Then again, in my case, I was diagnosed as having mild-to-moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder. It explained a lot of my difficulty in making friends and maintaining relationships with others all my life, as well as “living in my head” most of the time. But take heart, there are non-drug therapies for either condition, ways of coping and working around problems, helping us to become the best people we can possibly be, and learning to be happy with who we are as unique individuals. I don’t need, nor really want, a list of friends a mile long; one or two really good ones is perfectly fine with me.

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