The struggle with Emotional Sobriety.

Voice of Recovery from Addiction

I teach my kids to write when something is bothering them, and I can’t teach it, if I don’t practice what I preach. My blogs for We are 1 voice have always been about the disease in general. How to deal with this, what to do about that, etc…..This entry is a bit more on a personal level although at some point, all those in recovery may find themselves in. There are those who think of me as some kind of inspiration (for whatever reason) but the reality is, I’m just an alcoholic / addict who got sober and there’s nothing particularly special about me. I’m human and struggle with the same things all people who fight with this disease do. Even after almost six years of sobriety, I STILL struggle with things. This particular entry is about something I’m struggling with

There are two kinds of sobriety and although they are very different, you can’t deal with one and not the other. You MUST deal with both in order to achieve true sobriety. What are they? PHYSICAL SOBRIETY; which is when you no longer put the alcohol (or drugs) in your system. You stop drinking (or using) For some, this is somewhat difficult, but it does get easier. For me, physical sobriety was fairly easy. Then there’s EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY; which is (like in my case) learning not only how to “feel” again, but learning how to deal with those feelings without feeling the need to pick up the bottle which is what we do. “We” don’t deal with feelings well, in most cases, we don’t deal with them at all. We use the booze and drugs to mask our pain and we pretend it doesn’t exist which is how we get into the situations we find ourselves in.

Emotional sobriety is what I personally had the hardest time with. I still struggle with it at times (like now) In sobriety, it’s very important to be rigorously honest, especially with ourselves. We can’t do the half truths or the no truths, that’s what we did while we were still “sick” We also created a lot of damage and have to deal with the aftermath by being accountable for our actions and try to fix what we’ve broken if possible. We not only have to learn to feel, we have to deal with our demons and face our past. It’s all pretty overwhelming.

One of the first things you learn when you get sober is that your sobriety MUST come before everyone and everything else. We are taught that being selfish is wrong, and for the most part, it is. However, when it comes to our sobriety, we have to be selfish. The first thing we put before our own sobriety, will be the last thing we lose.

That being said, YES I’m sober, but that doesn’t mean I’m “fixed, cured or perfect” one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn since I got sober is that I can’t build a better past. I didn’t realize the havoc, chaos and pain I’d caused other people until after I got sober. Guilt consumed me in ways that I can’t fully explain. I did in fact work through that guilt and have done my very best to make my amends to those I stomped on. Some amends were easier than others to make. There have been some that I’ve made but somehow, I still felt it wasn’t good enough, I had to keep proving myself and would allow situations to arise and push my own feelings to the curb just to avoid “rocking the boat”. That in turn, would cause me to turn my feelings inward which is not good for me. I know that to be true, but it’s difficult to make my heart see what it doesn’t want to.

Even after almost six years of sobriety, I have moments of weakness. I STILL feel like I’ve got to prove myself. I STILL feel insecure at times, and I STILL have moments of self doubt and not being good enough. I also on occasion, STILL feel unworthy. I’m still taking baby steps and working on myself. I’m a work in progress fore sure. I’m STILL struggling to find my place in this world, and I’m STILL struggling to figure out who “I” am. There’s a lot of emotional business I still have to work through. That emotional business is a bitch for any human being, but it’s (in my opinion) more difficult for an alcoholic (or addict) because we avoid “feeling” for so long and when we get sober, we have no choice but to deal with them and it’s overwhelmingly difficult. I’m slowly starting to realize that in some situations, I’ve done my best and have nothing left to prove. I KNOW I’m not the same person I was by any stretch of the imagination. Not even close. Because of my own senses of self doubt, I tend to push myself even if in the back of my mind I know I don’t have to. I should automaticly know that if my best isn’t good enough, than there’s nothing I can do about it. I didn’t get sober to ignore the feelings I now have to actually feel in order to make another person happy. I should know all that, and I guess I do, but I can’t help but feel the need to try.

Sometimes, in spite of the signs being right in front of us, we still (for whatever reason) feel the need to take the long way around and learn things the hard way before we’re willing to see what we need to see. It’s taken me quite some time to get to this point, but my eyes are opening up wider and wider. I’m starting to see that I can’t allow myself to be in a situation that keeps me feeling on the edge to make others happy because when people such as myself feel they are on the edge, the chances of them falling off are more likely. Maybe that makes me selfish, but at this point, I can’t afford not to be, I’ve worked way to hard to get to this point. I’m also starting to see that, there are some relationships that can never go back to what they once were, and still other relationships that I no longer want to fix. Emotional sobriety SUCKS for those of us (like myself) that have spent decades not feeling and staying shut off from things that could possibly hurt us or deem us “weak” However comma, the reality is we have to if we wish to continue to remain physically sober.

It’s one thing to come to the reality where you know you have to walk away, it’s quite another to actually do it. As I’m realizing this, I can share the conclusion I have finally came to for others who may be going through this same situation. It comes down to what’s more important to you, your sobriety which comes with peace, serenity and happiness, or relationships that emotionally cripples you and can potentially put your emotional sobriety sobriety at risk and in time your physical sobriety? One will hurt for awhile until you work through it, and the other can kill you. I can honestly say that by the Grace of the Powers that be” I’m not contemplating or even close to a relapse. The reason for that is my sobriety has taught me to take a step back when something is bothering me and think about it rather than act on my old impulses that make me wanna just shut it all out and pretend that all is right with the world. Although I am NOT exempt from a relapse, but I can tell you that it’s not gonna happen today, and today is the only thing I need to worry about, tomorrow is another day.

AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist

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