Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learning To Feel Again

** Submitted by Sadie, who blogs at Life is An Octopus

Since I was three years old I can remember having extremely addictive behaviors. My parents were going through a traumatic divorce and nasty custody fight over my brother and me. I watched my mom deteriorate into a thin shell, a fragment, of a person with each passing day. My dad took every opportunity he could to brain wash me into telling the judge, or whomever else might listen, what a horrible mother my mom was. (Absolutely NOT true). And, of course, his manipulation and mood swings would increase with every drink he took. I remember doing anything I could to escape my situation and, more importantly, to escape my feelings. I continued trying to escape until very recently.

I am now 22 years old. Three months ago I admitted that I am an alcoholic. It took almost dying in a hotel room in Vegas for me to be blessed with the sudden clarity of what my life had become. Being three months sober now, I have whiplash from being jerked around by my emotions.

My first month of sobriety was a piece of cake. The world looked perfectly wonderful from up there on that fluffy pink cloud. After that first month, however, my emotions began to run amok. I found that within an hour I could experience sadness, bliss, rage, annoyance, jealousy, sheer joy… and that was very scary at first.

One time that sticks out in my memory was a morning about three weeks ago when I found myself stuck to the floor. Now, when I say “stuck”, I mean that I had decided to lie down on the floor (okay, okay, maybe I threw myself on the floor after an inner temper tantrum but let’s not get bogged down with the details) and found that I was physically incapable of scraping myself up into a sitting position. Had I suddenly and inexplicably been hit with a freak case of being paralyzed? If so, would it be forever?! Thinking I had finally lost my damn mind I called my sponsor. She asked, “Well, have you thought that maybe you just need time to sit and process your new found emotions?” Shit. You mean I had to not only FEEL my feelings, but I had to sit and reflect on them, too? When did I miss that memo? Perhaps it was sent out when I was on the floor…?

Let me tell you. After one becomes so overwhelmed with emotion (and not being able to stuff them inside with one’s anxiety pills or alcohol) that one becomes the horizontal version of a Velcro wall really makes one stop and think. I decided that perhaps my sponsor, bless her, might be right. Maybe I should try to SIT WITH MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. *insert pregnant pause for dramatic affect…perhaps even a gasp! Is heard off in the distance.*

So I have been trying to find a quiet place and time in my day to reflect and actually feel. The other night I even allowed myself to cry great big old sloppy, ugly, heaving sobs of healing goodness. It had been quite some time since I had allowed myself to do that. Why go through it when wine and Lorazepam were so readily at hand? All these years I have been convincing myself that crying from any emotion other than happiness, gratitude, or relief was a horrible thing to have to go through. I am here to tell you that I was dead wrong.

Crying for any reason turns out to be remarkably and gloriously healing. Sure it can suck to go through disappointment, grief or fear, but, actually getting to FEEL those sucky emotions is a gift. A really big shiny gift wrapped in an impressive bow in fact. Because along with feeling truly awful at times, I get to feel peace, joy, giddiness, and pure happiness.

How freakin’ cool is that?!


  1. I can so relate - the whole feeling thing is what has kept this a roller coaster ride for me. I didn't realize how good I was at pushing them away with the bottle...
    You're doing an incredible job! I'm inspired by your honesty and courage :)

  2. Yay, Sadie! You rock girl. :) Love this post! I love that you are keeping your sense of humor. My goodness, it's SO important! ;) I'm not sure were I'd be without mine ... I too, avoided all feelings and emotions with wine and xanax. What a combo, huh? Welcome to the other side, where one day, you will welcome those emotions eagerly. :)

  3. It's amazing how you've turned your life around in such a short amount of time. And to do so at 22 is remarkable. It's terrible that your childhood was so rough and that you were forced to keep your emotions at bay for so long.

    I'm 34 and just 3 weeks sober today. I regret that I didn't see what was happening earlier but am grateful I'm here now. Your story helps me because you're right about the fluffy pink cloud. I'm feeling pretty good right now. It's really helpful to know if and when that starts to fade that it might be easier to recognize and deal with. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. THANK YOU for your post. You are SUCH an inspiration to other young people out there. There is no such thing as "too young" for sobriety, and you express this SO WELL.

    You are so brave. Thank you!!!

  5. This rings so true in my ears. Thank you so much for your post. Feelings are my sobriety's worst enemy. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. It is always so amazing to me to see someone so young in sobriety. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will remember it. It takes a special brand of courage and strength to face your demons in your twenties. A good sense of humor goes a long way too, if you ask me.
    Congratulations on 3 months!

  7. Thank you all for the support, kindness, and hope filled words. It means so much to me. I am brought to tears by how incredible my life has become. It is in big part to the compassion, understanding, and love I have found in this community. Thank you all so much again. You are all so inspiring!


  8. Very cool.

    It's such a gift that you've found this clarity at such an early age. Thank you so much for sharing here today.

  9. I read your post and was realy inspired by what you had to go through.I'm going through the same thing except with laratab it's always been one drug or another my whole life.Now i'm trying to change that.BIG TIME. Doing good thank you for your story and keep up the good fight.