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Feelings Aren’t Facts – This is the first part of a three-part series about how to manage your emotions in recovery.
Managing Feelings Is THE Most Difficult Thing About Sobriety
When you were using drugs or alcohol, you didn’t have to deal with your feelings. Well, kind of.
Most of the feelings you dealt with were chemically induced. You became accustomed to the buzz or high you got when you drank or did drugs. That was your normal state of being. You also got used to the shame and guilt that accompanied the things you had to do to support your habit. Furthermore, you were well-acquainted with hangovers or the feeling of being dope sick if you didn’t have the drugs or alcohol you needed to function. THESE were the feelings that your world revolved around.
When you stop using mood and mind-altering substances, it’s a whole different situation. You have to manage anxiety, stress, depression, worry, and self-doubt. You must become acclimated to feelings of jealousy, anger, resentment, and fear. You have no choice but to learn to deal with apathy, discontentment, disappointment, and rage. These feelings come at you with lightning speed and great intensity. No doubt – these once masked feelings are very uncomfortable.
Without chemicals to numb the pain of living, your emotions can run you ragged and make you feel completely out of control. Without question, managing feelings is THE most difficult thing about putting down the pipe, the pills, the bottle, or the needle. Being in recovery is all about learning what to do with your emotions.
Riding The Emotional Rollercoaster
One thing’s for sure feelings aren’t facts – when you first get into recovery, you are on an emotional rollercoaster ride. One minute, you’re overwhelmed with gratitude for your newly found freedom in sobriety. You’re thankful that you are no longer living in the bondage of addiction and you can’t imagine ever taking another drink or drug. The next minute, you are filled with anxiety and fear. It’s so overwhelming, that you convince yourself the only way you can manage the moment is to have a stiff glass of whiskey to calm your overly active nerves.
How can this be?
It’s important to understand that when you first commit to sobriety, you are going to be on an emotional rollercoaster ride. After polluting your body with toxic chemicals like opioids, cocaine, or alcohol; your emotional regulation is all out of whack. Your brain does has lost the ability to function properly. Your feelings are going to change from one minute to the next. Although this is very uncomfortable – and it almost seems unbearable at times – knowing this can make the ride a lot easier.
When you recognize that your feelings are going to change, you can be better equipped to ride them out when they are unsettling. You can tell yourself, “This is extremely discomforting. But, it’s just a feeling. It will pass.”
Be sure to check out Feelings Aren’t Facts – How To Ride The Emotional Rollercoaster of Recovery: Part 2.
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