It’s no secret that as alcoholics, our emotions trigger our disease. One of the many reasons we drink, is so we don’t have to feel. Especially when it comes to feelings of depression and sadness. We surely don’t want to feel those. Here’s the kicker ladies and gentlemen…..Alcohol is a DEPRESSANT! Which is usually why when we’re in that state, it makes a bad situation worse. So what do we do? We drink more. Do you see a pattern yet??? It’s the equivalent of having the runs and taking a laxative to fix the problem! I’m jus’ sayin…….
Dealing with our feelings is something we either don’t do well or, like in my case, we don’t deal with at all. The ONLY emotion I never had a problem expressing was anger. In my mind, showing emotions was something we just don’t do. It meant that we were weak. It’s what I was taught to believe at a very young age, and I mastered it long before I reached adulthood. Alcohol (and drugs) will never make bad feelings “go away” Although it may seem like it at the time. Those problems and bad feelings will still be there when you sober up. All in your face up close and personal. Your first instinct of course will be to grab another bottle (or drug) and repeat the cycle. When you enter some kind of recovery, you usually think that it’s just going to either teach you not to drink (or use) or you think it’s gonna teach you how to get a handle on your usage. Both are extremely incorrect. One of the many things that make your recovery possible, will be actually learning how to cope with and deal with your feeling. At the risk of sounding very korny, “you have to feel, in order to heal.”
In the beginning it seems almost overwhelming because all the feelings you’ve locked deep down inside, are the first ones you must let out and deal with. Oh believe me, you will want to avoid this part of the process. But it was avoiding all of those feelings that got you in this situation to begin with. In the early stages of my recovery, I found myself getting extremely emotional over the littlest things. Then I got angry. I called my sponsor and I said, “Does being sober mean I’m going to be a blubbering idiot for the rest of my life????” He just laughed for a moment then replied, “This to shall pass.” Of course I became even more emotional and annoyed and asked him, “WHEN??????” I stuck it out because the truth of the matter is, my life depended on it. If I went back out, I would not only lose absolutely everything, but I would surely drink myself to death. That fear was much worse than the fear of feeling.
Everyone in recovery deals with this phase differently, but at the end of the day, what it boils down to is, we all MUST deal with it in order to get and remain sober and clean. Trust me when I tell you that it was much easier for me to master burring my emotions than it has been for me to learn how to deal with them. To this day, I still don’t like show them and my first instinct is to hide them. Then I remember where doing that lead me. I have been given the tools to not only identify my feelings, but I can acknowledge them as well as deal with them today. It’s gotten easier over the years, but it’s something I’ve got to work on daily, just like I’ve got to work on my recovery daily.
You can continue to run and hide, but no matter where you go, your feelings will always be with you. No matter how much you may try to convince yourself that you got it under control, you don’t. If your first reaction when you get upset is to grab for a bottle or a means to get high, than you have no control whatsoever. We can not make the necessary changes unless things change and that includes on how we deal with things. As I’ve said many times, we can’t keep doing the same things over and over, then expect a different outcome. The reality is, it’s do or die. You can allow fear and pride to continue rule both you and your disease, OR you can finally take control of your live and move forward. As always, the choice is yours to do with as you please. Just remember, for every choice, there is a consequence.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist