Emotions- Recovery Word of the Week

 “I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by losing, and by giving.” Anais Nin

“I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by losing, and by giving.” Anais Nin

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.