Choose to Feel. Choose to Change.

The Unraveling of Feelings.

It’s when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day and it’s so quiet I can hear the silence around me. When I allow myself to melt into my bed, my day begins to unravel. Thoughts circle and spin above emotions I didn’t realize I was feeling all day. My heart tires and it aches. I stare at the ceiling and decide to let go, to breathe. I decide to let go of control and allow the process to work.

The tears begin to fall down my cheeks. Like cleansing drops of rain, I release all that I’ve held in for the day. There are so many things I’m recovering from in life that my mind needs the opportunity to process it all. I’m not broken anymore, I’m sober and living a good life. But, that good life comes with experiencing and processing the emotions of the day. Experiencing your feelings is not for the faint of heart.

Pain is Inevitable.

Everyone carries something heavy in life. There’s always something gnawing at you, whether you’re in recovery or not. When I wasn’t in recovery I was in denial about the burden. Or I was trying to drown it with alcohol or escape it in some other impulsive way. We chalk it up as an inevitable part of life, this suffering, this longing.

What I can say is that I’ve grown my greatest strengths and determination, and built my character from my sufferings. The scars have healed but they’ve left their marks. The scars never disappear completely, that’s not the purpose of healing. The purpose of recovery is to transform a wound into a mark of healing….a scar if you will.

 Impulsivity Contradicts Productivity.

Why am I the impatient, irritated wife and mother? Why did I snap over something so stupid today? How do I make it right with that person? Why am I not enjoying my blessings? Why am I still crying at night longing for something? Why do the scars of the past still affect me? What triggered the scar that’s affecting me right now? Is my depression kicking in again? Am I irritated because my anxiety is out of control? Is this all about control? Why do I need control right now? What is my source of fear?

Why am I fighting the urge to be impulsive all day? Impulsive spending, impulsive eating, impulsive activities with the kids, impulsive traveling, impulse control. All these things distract me throughout the day from my real problem. The scars that weigh heavy on my heart at night are the things I try to escape throughout the day even while I’m sober.

Ahhhh Gratitude.

I begin to remind myself that I have everything I could ever want. I have my health; I have an awesome marriage and daughters that amaze me more each day as I watch them grow. I have a couple jobs that are amazing, I don’t have to work every day, I work when I want to. Look at this house I say to myself, it’s beautiful, big and spacious. That car in the driveway is paid off. The cupboards are full and there’s plenty of money in the bank account. What gives?

I’ve been in recovery for years and am working on a lifestyle that is not only sober and healthy but is thriving. I’ve been through several step studies and know the importance of a daily inventory. Inventory is step 10 of most 12 step programs. I must say here that each program has a different format, and that my process may not look like yours or what you see in a program. I find that I can’t use a worksheet to put my emotions in a box and check it off each day, but for some this is effective. The key is to find your own process and commit to it.

Progress….Not Perfection.

This whole process I go through each night when my head hits the pillow is exactly that, a daily inventory. It doesn’t always end in tears, sometimes the day ends with a satisfied smile. When I’ve relapsed, when I’ve failed, it’s because I’m not taking the time to inventory my heart, my mind, and my body.

The days I’m especially impulsive, those are the days I need to inventory the most. Those are the days when if I follow the process, I have the biggest breakthrough. Life in recovery is not one solid breakthrough and boom you’re free. Life in recovery is a process of balance. Submission to the process allows for growth through faith. Controlling the process leads to disappointment.

After the tears have quit falling at night or when the anxiety dissipates, I begin with the serenity prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I cannot change that life involves struggle, it involves processing scars on a daily basis. I can instead change my view. Processing emotions on a daily basis takes courage, the easy way out is through avoidance which leads to relapse. Avoidance is not an option.

Doing a daily inventory, a heart check if you will, allows for growth in many areas. Most of the time inventory happens without the individual even noticing it, until the “aha” moment is experienced. We must make the inventory a daily habit, it must become second nature or the “aha” moments will stop. A life of growth is better than a life of suffering is it not?

Gandhi has stated that “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as in being able to remake ourselves.”

How blessed we are to remake ourselves….one day at a time; one inventory at a time. This friend is what makes us misfits in recovery great.

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