I had really painful loneliness in middle school and early high school. I remember constantly roaming the halls at lunch because I didn’t have any friends to sit with and to sit somewhere alone seemed too pathetic. Better to at least look like I was on my way to someone or somewhere (don’t think I was fooling anyone). Anyway, later in high school I found drugs and booze and I loved them and with them I fell into the ‘druggy’ group and that was priceless to me and that just made me love getting high more. Getting high literally solved all of my problems in one fell swoop. OK now fast forward 20 years. Now I am married and with kids and I am 19 months clean and sober. The problem is I never learned how to make friends or have relationships other than by getting high and getting rejected socially is so painful to me I have a really hard time with putting myself out there. Honestly I can’t even talk about this with my wife. I feel like I have to deal with this pain of my past and I have to learn how to make friends and I have to overcome my social problems that caused my life-long social problems and I have to do all of this very painful and difficult stuff without relapsing. How should I do this?
Thank you for your question. First, you don't have to do all this alone. Try talking to your wife about the problems you are facing. Your wife is there to support you. Second, consider getting into counseling. A counselor can help you develop the social skills that you didn't develop at an early age. Third, consider a support group for people with social anxiety. This kind of group is designed to help people who have trouble with social situations get comfortable by practicing their social skills in a safe setting. Fourth, consider going to AA or NA meetings. You will be surprised how many people at meetings would relate if you told them how uncomfortable you are with making friends. If you think about your "druggy" friends from school, I bet they were all socially awkward and didn't fit in most social groups. These are the same types of people who will be in AA and NA meetings, only they will be 20 years older too. Also, check out this article for some other ideas about how to make friends in recovery.