Joy, Rapture & Terror or, How I Learned to Survive Extreme Feelings without Drink or Drugs

Good news & Bad news

Ok, kiddos, there’s good news, and there’s bad news, about getting clean/sober. The good news is, you’re gonna be able to feel GOOD again, in all the various forms “good” comes in. And the bad news is…well, I hate to be the one to have to break this to you, but the bad news is that you’re gonna start to feel the gamut of BAD again, as well. Yeah, I’m sorry. The thing is, if you want to feel the GOOD, you also have to feel the BAD.
Now, I’m not gonna tell you how to navigate the tsumani of emotions that are gonna hit you all through your first year or so of sobriety, like the biggest roller coaster in the world. I’d like to, really I would, but the simple fact is, I’m just not qualified. It’s only by the grace of God that I’ve made it this far. What I am gonna do is share a few tools that have been very important for my survival, when the big storms have hit.

Feelings won’t kill you

When I got clean, as you may already know, I was 3 months away from giving birth to my first child. I really didn’t expect to have a child, ever, and I was awestruck to have been given the opportunity to love this tiny person in my belly. So, when he came into the world, I felt joy, rapture, and terror – and no, I couldn’t tell at all which was which. I cried happy tears like I can’t remember crying before. It was so glorious. Birth. Wow.
Then, just a week later, I felt the worst feelings I’d ever known. That was when I seriously wondered if my heart was going to explode, or perhaps IMPLODE. Those days and nights in the Children’s hospital were like none I’ve experienced before or since.
Those days are the reason that I can tell you quite confidently that feelings can’t kill you.

What’s the answer?

What I discovered is a fool-proof recipe for getting me through extreme feelings without drinking or drugging. You may do it differently, but this is how I’ve made it through elation and heartbreak, more than once. I write it here in the hopes of sparing someone the destruction that can happen if you’re not aware of how serious a predicament you’re actually in.

Emotional Survival Plan

First, let your support system know what’s going on, and especially how you’re feeling about the situation. Putting on a brave front at this time is for idiots. Yeah, IDIOTS.

Next, get on your knees (doesn’t have to be literally, but you know, in your heart and mind) and make contact with the Higher Power of your understanding. Talk, cry, wail (that’s usually my favorite) or shout. Just let it out. You will be amazed at the results.

Now, call in reinforcements. Your parents, your Pastor, and anyone with whom you have a spiritual connection. Call them and ask for their prayers, whatever that may look like. The more the merrier. And don’t minimize your situation! If having them with you (whether phyically or in spirit only) is crazy important to you, it’s gonna be the same to those who love you.
In my experience, I went to 12-Step meetings when I could. Within The Rooms of Recovery I found a safe place. At my most frightened, most confused, most vulnerable , I can go into a room of others like me and know that I’m safe. I can scream and curse if I need to, or I can sit quietly and listen. It’s ok, there.

Sometimes, if someone is in the hospital, it may not always seem feasible to go to a meeting. But consider this, especially if they’re not likely to know if you’re there or not, for just an hour: if you don’t take care of your sobriety, you’re going to be worthless to the others that you love who are in the fear, pain, sorrow, etc that you’re in. And then they’re going to be concerned about you and trying to do damage control on your mess….you get the picture?
So, let’s do everyone a favor, mkay?
Do whatever you must, to ensure your sobriety, and then take care of whatever you are able.

Good times, bad times, ya know I’ve had my share

People talk all day long about how things like a break-up, or job loss, or illness can lead to a relapse. Well, listen closely, and please hear me when I tell you that it’s just as easy to fall prey to the addiction when things seem to be wonderful.
Heck, even non-alcoholic/addicts will be watching out for you when the shit hits the fan. It’s almost a given that you’ll need to step up your vigilance during stressful times.
But you –yes, YOU– be on guard for the happy, shiny, glitter-filled times. Watch out for “what could go wrong?!” days, and the “top of the world” days.
There’s good reason why alcohol (and addiction) is called “cunning, baffling, and powerful”.

Hungry Angry Lonely Tired

I’ve been dealing with those 4 in varying amounts for the last few days. They’re not strangers to me. I feel like a weathered war veteran when it comes to “h.a.l.t.” That certainly doesn’t mean I’m exempt from tripping up when those 4 come around, but it means that maybe I’ll figure out what the problem is and find a remedy before I feel a (self-imposed?) crisis coming on.

The happy ending
…is at the end of the day, whenever it is that your head hits the pillow, and you’ve gotten through One. More. Day. Successfully. Sober.
And that, friends, is how I manage.
How about you? Do you have a go-to for overwhelming times?

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

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9 responses to “Joy, Rapture & Terror or, How I Learned to Survive Extreme Feelings without Drink or Drugs

  1. Ghegheghe, whenever I see a title with the word ‘Feeling’ or ‘Feelings’ in it my first reaction is to get a fright and think “Ooh, what did I do now?!!!” :-). This concussion I have makes me very much aware of what reaction I have to well, anything. A tiny bit of stress immediately rings a BIG bell inside my head. Learning, learning.
    I think I try to deal with overwhelm, mostly by realising ‘Ooh, I am overwhelmed, so this situation is overwhelming to me.’ And then try to find out what part of it did made me feel like that. But today I just got very angry. That is another part of ‘dealing’ – the biological way. Overwhelm makes me fall to pieces, anger makes me allign those pieces again, it gives me the feeling that I am whole again and separates the other (perpentrator) from me clearly. I need to learn to deal with anger more. I need it at my job because otherwise I will be run over no doubt. But I do not yet have controll over the amount and direction. 😀 Guess this is what I should have learned if I had not learned to drink everything away. 😦
    I think I am the type who would, if I would, relapse over winning the lottery, not over missery. ‘There is no problem that can not be made worst with alcohol’ is stuck in the front of my mind. I have no defense against winning the lottery yet. But then again, I don’t buy lottery tickets so I might not be at risk. :-/ I don’t know. Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. 😦
    xx, Feeling

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  2. Extremely good advice from your hard won wisdom! I am not a recovering person, but am a clinically trained social worker, and want to commend you for sharing this. I’m glad Bernadette got you to share it! It really will help others, I’m sure. Jo

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  3. Nice one Abbie! I rely pretty heavy on my sponsor. I call him a shit ton. A lot less now than earlier on. Earlier on, it was like I needed to call him to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Ha ha! But that’s just what I needed then.

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