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I’ve shut down

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I was addicted to gambling for about 12 years. I’ve been in recovery for almost a year now. My problem is that during my addiction I ended up pushing almost everyone out of my life without really knowing that I was doing it. I was in a fog. I didn’t feel. I couldn’t feel. But now I do and I’ve realized that I kept people at bay and wouldn’t let them in. I need to know how to open myself up and be more friendly. I’ve met a terrfic guy but have pretty much ruined any chance with him because he’s lost interest. I just find it so hard to open up, share my feelings, talk about myself. I want to be able to fix things with him. I want him to feel like I care and to feel a connection with me. How do I fix myself?

I’m sure the last year hasn’t been easy. Give yourself lots of credit for getting into recovery and for taking care of yourself for a whole year. What you are reporting isn’t unusual. Addictions often result in alienation from self and others. The addiction plus the lifestyle of deception that goes along with it can’t coexist with caring and concern.

As strong as you are, you may have done as much as you can on your own. It’s time to look for some assistance. Fortunately you live in a large city where there are many resources. A simple search on the web yielded several places that have counseling services for people in recovery. There are also a number of qualified private therapists in your area. I urge you to research the possibilities.

I do suggest that a support group or group therapy is the best place to start. It’s important not to feel alone as you continue your recovery. It’s important to have a safe place to try out new skills in relating, to get caring feedback, and to get back into the habit of also caring for others. Groups can do that for you.

It’s a small victory that you met a terrific guy. I don’t know if you can fix it with him but you can certainly learn from the experience. You have made a major turnaround in midlife. You have 30 – 40 years ahead of you. Get the help you need so you can really connect with the next fantastic man you meet. You deserve to have that happiness and companionship in the second half of your life.

I wish you well in your continuing recovery.
Dr. Marie

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