Abbie / Abbie in Wondrland
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 tsunami 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 physically 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?
This post appeared with a different title and in a slightly different format @ Abbie in Wondrland (sic)
Abbie is a woman in longterm recovery from addiction and mental illness. She is delighted when given opportunities to help people (even just one) whose lives are touched by alcoholism, addiction, or mental illness. She is not a professional, as such, but she has ample life experience. Abbie is finding her stride as a writer, and finds it to be soul-soothing. Thank you for reading!