My emotions unmanaged can be deadly to both others and myself. Especially when I am using. All the trauma and pain that I endured as a child was stuffed down with just about every negative emotion out there. Once I touched drugs those emotions unleashed themselves causing trauma and pain for others that for the most part did not deserve it. Looking back now I am very lucky that acting out on my emotions didn’t get me killed. Apart from using drugs, my emotions could also get me in loads of trouble. When I decided to get clean I realized that recovery is not only staying clean from drugs, but also clearing your head of negativity. Without clearing your head, you are just stuffing the pain and trauma down again until it blows up like a time bomb. I am grateful today.
Emotions come and go... They always have and most likely always will. At times in my addiction I was fully convinced I didn’t have any emotions. I was wrong. They have always been there, I would just shove them down as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have to feel or deal with them. Now that I’m clean and sober I still experience many different emotions daily. Some of them I embrace, while others not so much. The beautiful thing is that I don’t have to run from them anymore or deny their existence. I can just let them be. I’ve gained the tools to be able to identify what is going on, and have healthy people around me to process them, with if need be. It’s still not easy and uncomfortable having some emotions such as hurt, sadness, fear, and the list can go on, but thanks to sobriety, I no longer have to run. That in itself is a huge blessing.
Emotions: The thing I used to stuff as far down as I could, run from. The thing I associated with weakness and something easily targeted. Getting sober is almost indescribable to imagine all the emotions or as I used to label them “bad feelings” that begin to bubble up and immerse me. It’s almost suffocating, and extremely terrifying and uncomfortable. As I was writing this it occurred to me that yes, this is what I’ve been running from all this time and it’s also what I’ve been so deeply craving. Every time I take that drink or drug the overwhelming “good emotion” it brings me maybe for even a brief time. The thing about taking drugs and alcohol out of the picture is you no longer only experience that “good emotion” you are suddenly sent on a roller coaster of the whole spectrum of emotion, good and new. What I’ve realized is in order to truly feel one emotion, you must eventually feel them all-sometimes all in one day and sometimes over time. I’ve learned now feeling these things so deeply is a gift not a curse.
For some time my emotions were not present with me. I avoided the truth behind things that I felt. I figured what's the point? Half the time I didn't want to feel anything anyways. I told myself that the drugs were doing it for me; managing the emotions that I thought I couldn’t handle at the time. I walked through life without a single concern on my mind, or a single feeling, whether good or bad. I went through scary situations with no fear. I became numb and desensitized to life. However, during that time, I forgot what mattered to me the most. It wasn’t until I had a couple months clean that I was able to look back on all the emotions I was missing out on while I was using drugs and in active addiction. Recovery at South Orange County Detox & Treatment has shown me how to manage my emotions and I'm grateful to feel again. Without the ones I don’t run from anymore, there wouldn’t be the one’s I don’t want to leave.
In our continuing series, “Word of the Week”, here at South Orange County Detox, we are focusing on a very broad and sometimes confusing word, especially during recovery- emotions. Fundamentally, emotions are the language our bodies use to express what it cannot say in words. Although people generally look at the evolution of human thought and associate that trait as the one particularly unique to human beings (as it is), it really is the interaction and symbiotic relationship between these thoughts and the emotions attached to them as being the distinguishing and divine quality separating human and non-human animals. Our emotional reactions can be, in essence, what provides us with the vitality of life. Conversely, negative emotions can be devastating, destabilizing, and even traumatic. As addicts, we are prone to seek out moments of ecstasy in order to feel as though we are alive. Not only is there nothing inherently wrong with this, but in fact, this desire is arguably one of the fundamental needs of mankind. This can become problematic, however, when we begin to seek out illegitimate forms of ecstasy such as is the case of addicts with unfettered drug use. Other examples of illegitimate ecstasy that can manifest in dangerous form are sex, gambling, work, power, and even relationships with other people. This is where step work becomes an invaluable tool in our development. In engaging the 12 step process, we learn to take personal responsibility, practice vigorous honesty, maintain integrity, and act out of selflessness and humility. In adopting these new methods as way to navigate the pitfalls of life, we learn to self-regulate our negative emotional states and we also learn to take full advantage of positive states so that we may achieve the experiences of ecstasy that are necessary to our vitality and engagement with the horrors as well as the magnificence of life. We, as recovering addicts, must decide whether or not we are going to face our inevitable suffering as means to find happiness on the other side, or if we are going to run from our fears and continue participating in the cycle that temporarily masks our pain only for it to return in an even more grotesque and insidious form the next time around. In addiction we chose death; we chose derision, isolation, misery, apathy, and depression as we recoiled in the face of our fears. In sobriety we choose life; we choose connection, service, wholeness, honesty, and purpose as we made the decision to ride the fabulous and sometimes terrifying wave that is life.
In my opinion, when I am feeling down or ungrateful, I count the blessings in my life. It’s easy to forget everything that is a privilege that comes for free in life. Even though I have lived a very rough life, looking back on it now, I’ve always had many blessings surrounding me. By using drugs I over looked all of them. Getting off drugs now is really important to humble myself and look at what I have. At the top of my list of Blessings I have the love and care of South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD) and the real relationship I share here. Without them I would be lost. Count your Blessings.
In my active addiction, I rejected any idea or concept of God because I had gotten so comfortable living my life fueled by self-will run riot. I didn’t want to believe that anyone or anything in my life had control over me, and I didn’t want to have faith in anything greater than myself because growing up, I felt forsaken by God. I wondered why God didn’t protect me from life and I wondered why he didn’t answer my prayers. When I came into treatment and into the rooms of A.A. it took me a long time to grasp any concept of a Higher Power. I still believed that I had full control over my life, and I wanted to continue to live under my own hand. I learned time and time again that I don’t have control over drugs and alcohol, because I would remain in my own will and use drugs because I had absolutely no control and using drugs was easier than facing myself and living life on life’s terms. I didn’t want to admit that I was powerless over anything in my life. Until I could fully and completely even begin to admit that I was powerless over drugs and alcohol, and that I needed to have faith in something greater than myself, I could not remain clean and sober. I always felt that God was punishing me when I was growing up, and I was blinded by my selfishness and victim complex to ever see any beauty or Blessings in the world. I didn’t believe that Blessings even existed. I truly believed that God would punish me for the rest of my life because I was and felt different from everyone around me.
Being in recovery, and being introduced to a power greater than myself has opened my eyes to so many things that I never thought I would be able to see. It has taken time, patience and a good amount of spiritual searching to get where I am today. Today I am able to wake up and see the beautiful things in life that I am grateful for as well as the way that my Higher Power works in my life- by showing me Blessings that I cannot explain. By putting my faith and will into the hands of my Higher Power, I am able to experience these moments in life that are unexplainable. God-shots is what I like to call them, or in other words, little Blessings that happen out of nowhere that show me that my Higher Power is active in my life and watching over me. And in return when I actively seek a connection with my Higher Power, take the next indicated step and continue to work a program of recovery then my Higher Power presents himself by showing me just how Blessed I am. Six months ago, if you told me that I would be where I am today, I would have called you crazy. Today I have a strong fellowship of women, I have a faith in a Higher Power and I get the opportunity to work my 12 steps and help other Alcoholics. Without my Higher Power I would not be able to experience these Blessings in my life that help me grow on a daily basis.
Before I dedicated myself to the abstinence of drugs and alcohol, I was blinded by entitlement and couldn't see any blessings in my life. In recovery, the" Gift of Desperation" was a Blessing to me and ultimately brought me to the place where I am today. I’m alive, and for that I am grateful. When I keep this mindset my whole life becomes one Big Blessing. My Higher Power has shown me not to count my blessings, but rather hold onto them with Sentimental Value that way I’ll always stay in gratitide and I will always be able to see and experience the blessings in my life. It’s important to respect your Blessings...that way you won't take them for granted.
Many things have happened in my life over the years, some good some bad. At times some of the things that I thought were bad turned out to be Blessings in disguise. Blessings come in all types of forms. Some I’m able to recognize right away and others I’m not. One of the biggest Blessings in my life today is sobriety. I’m beyond grateful for everything it’s brought me in my life and all that it’s taught me about myself. I thought all my mistakes were for nothing and done in vain, but the fact that I’m able to be a living miracle and hopefully help others some day is a Blessing.
Blessings- What a hard thing to put into words. When I first think of this word, the things that come to mind is God given gifts, or things we hope for. In my reality, it’s never that, sometimes it’s dark clouds with silver linings and other times miniscule golden nuggets that you could collect and eventually add up to something beautiful that you may have never even known you needed. In my addiction, Blessings were finding money on the ground or finding drugs I had hidden and later forgotten about, or weaseling a few more dollars out of my Mom. The word has changed so much for me now, after getting clean and sober. It’s becoming the little things like repaired relationships or being able to give back something to someone that was freely given to me. Its new, real and I get to wake up clean and sober for the rest of my life if I so choose to.