My friend Alicia has graciously offered to guest post for me – so here’s the first one!
I’d like to punch someone in the face. Who? A mean angry sober person, a room terrorist, a bully! In my mind, the best way to deal with bullies is to beat them up, right? Throw a drink -er – soda in their face. Right?! No, I’m told I should feel compassion. “Pray for them.” “Some are sicker than others.” “This person is suffering.” I smile when I hear this, and think, I like to make them suffer. Not really sober thinking…and I’m 14 months sober. Not a long time but enough time. In what some call the terrible twos. What’s funny to me is I always thought I handled things pretty well. I thought I was dealing with my feelings, dealing with my emotions. In truth lashing out was my first reaction to most emotions. That’s not really handling things well, I can see that now. In the past when I’ve lashed out there were always consequences. Usually, a broken hand, or being 86’d from a bar…fear and shame. The shame lasts the longest and hurts the worst. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve thrown a computer, phone or punched a wall in anger or frustration. Or the one time in the last year before I came in when I punched a guy square in the nose in a bar. Those actions never really felt good, but they were all I knew how to do when I was in a rage. Almost like a baby who throws a violent temper tantrum when they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. But, thank God – because of My HP, and this program, I now pause before I act. It’s in that pause that the better choice rises up through the muck and mire of stunted thinking.
Feelings are my friend, I don’t have to fear them. I drank to avoid feeling feelings. Now, I am not afraid of being upset, or hurt or sad. It’s normal to feel things, my problem is I didn’t know how to cope with them. Didn’t know how to process them. One of my ‘oh snap’ moments in my first six months was when a sober friends said to me, “Feelings are not facts.” That saying helps me to remember that I don’t have to react to every emotion I have at the moment I’m having them. Also, pick up the phone, talk to someone, and just pause to have a clear idea of what I’m feeling and what I’m reacting to exactly. Today when feelings come up, whether they are new feelings or familiar feelings I don’t try to hide from them or push them back down. Sometimes I’m confounded because I don’t always know what to do with them, or even more surprising if I should trust them.
I use a simple word for what it feels like to have all these emotions, all these emotions that I marinated in Vodka for years, madness. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think I’m mad, crazy, psychotic, no… I think I’m overwhelmed with feelings and have no idea how to process them. An emotional hangover leaves me just as confused and paralyzed as the old liquor induced ones did. But, now, I pause and I ask myself, am I angry or embarrassed or afraid? Or threatened? These all felt like anger when I first came in the rooms. All these questions help me identify with more clarity what it is that’s going on inside. Then I talk to someone else and reflect. I try to figure out what is making me so angry instead of just being angry.
The other day the aforementioned asshole was really rude, mocking and obnoxious in a meeting. Heat and rage rose up in my body. I almost blacked out I was so angry. I had the choice. Should I lash out? Ever single bone in my body was telling me to just do something! Another voice was saying to trust what I’ve been told this last year and pause when agitated. I was clearly agitated. This is much harder when you are actually pissed off. It was a crossroad.
I made a sober choice. Yes, I got angry, but I did not lash out. I made a statement but did not scream. Later that week I had a dream. I was in a similar situation and I exploded. There was a screaming match, throwing a chair…my subconscious was giving me the chance to act the way I wanted to act. To my astonishment, when I woke up, I felt horrible. I felt ashamed that I had lowered myself to his level. As my head cleared I was relieved that it was just a dream. This was a revelation to me.
It was the first time I knew something emotionally, not just intellectually. My sober self merged with my instinctual self for that moment. I learned something in my heart that day. I learned that all the emotions that I’m feeling ~ first, don’t have to take over. They don’t have to rule my life. They don’t have to present themselves in a raw rampant form shooting out of me like a bullet. Now, I can process what I’m feeling and behave according to the situation. Now that I know better, I do better. I know that I can feel angry but not have a knee jerk reaction to it and feel worse because of my behavior.
OK, I’m going to blast, hit a meeting with one of my BFF in the program. Yet, another 24 goes by, keep it simple.