You’re Right Where You’re supposed to be.
Link to Twelve Step Prayers.
Your Right Where Your Supposed to Be
So many times during the first two years of recovery I felt as if I was somehow doing something wrong in my recovery or that something was not right with my progress. I used to feel like my feelings themselves where wrong. Especially if I was sad or fearful, on the edge of depression or angry. I was fortunate to have effective group therapy which when combined with Alcoholics Anonymous kept me and several of my rehab-mates sober for a very long time. We all had sexual abuse in our past and took our addiction to places we were ashamed of. But I learned THERE IS NO WRONG FEELING, EVER.
It’s completely normal to go through an emotional rollercoaster ride in the first couple years of sobriety. We are learning coping skills that many children learn from reassuring and validating parents when they are young. When we are taught that our emotions are incorrect in so many words we tend to just shut them down and hide them away till they make us sick.
Feelings come from our heart which will not lie to us. We should honor our intense feelings by processing them in a healthy way. By this we validate who and what we are. Created by a Higher Power who knew what It was doing. We should explore our negative feelings and see if we can find their core roots in significant childhood events. Those childhood years are 9 times out of 10 when and where we developed our addictive self. Uncried tears, unspoken words, and suppressed fears all contribute to a sick state of emotions that require numbing. Numbing feelings is the alternative to acknowledging and working through feeling. Problem is when we stuff them down they just won’t go away.
Granted we don’t allow our feelings to rule or paralyze us but intense feelings should be processed. We write: “What happened and how it made me feel.” I don’t know about you but I was taught to be ashamed of myself. I thought everything about me was ugly and wrong.
Problem is I didn’t realize all of this until I was sober about seven years. Maybe if someone would have asked me the question “why and when did you start hating who you are?” A light bulb may have gone off in me.
Thing is A.A. only instructs us to investigate things that are our fault. Absolutely we need to do all that. But why shut down a whole aspect of my emotional roots? Wrongs suffered are often the reason we became addicts to begin with.
What it means to say “feelings are not facts” just means that if we are afraid it does not necessarily mean we are in danger. Or if we are distrustful it doesn’t mean a person should not be trusted. But feelings are facts in the way that they are there because of our experience. Maybe we have been betrayed in the past and now we are unable to trust people who has not earned our distrust. So feelings are facts but they are often based in the past and we project them onto our present.
The reason we should process intense feelings is so we can move on with our lives not projecting our pasts onto our present. It’s easy to tell someone to “get over it” which they are famous for in AA, but usually they don’t tell you how to “get over it”. Writing down intense feelings and events is very effective in getting things out. Writing our feelings is often a prerequisite to sharing them. Once we write intense issues down then we are more able to say them out loud and really get them out. This is why we benefit so much from telling our story to a group, over and over.
Feelings usually come from either a current, or past event. Emotional feelings can also be intensified by hormones but not invented by hormones.
Our therapists taught us defining words to express how we felt on a regular basis. Each morning I had to share with the group as best I could, what I felt like. In meetings I was taught if I had intense emotions about something I should share, “what happened and how it made me feel”. Words like “weird” and “funky” or strange are too vague. I had to speak true feelings with appropriate English language words. And for someone like me who was highly ashamed of who she was and what she felt, talking about what I did in my addiction was the easiest expression in the mix. Bottom line, I had to get out those things for which I was most afraid, most ashamed, and kept secret. Seldom do we hear in meetings the “fear list” which is included in the fourth step work. But it’s one of the best tools for on-going long term recovery.(BB Step Four)
Group therapy was a safe place to bear my soul. Meetings were a safe place to bear my feelings however there is usually an invalidator in the crowd. Someone who will shut you down by telling you your feelings and beliefs/actions are wrong. Prepare yourself for that. They get their self-image by cutting others down. Remember AA is a room full of sick, recovering, and recovered people. The attackers will crouch behind their judgmental look just waiting to shoot down anyone who appears the slightest bit vulnerable or new. And unfortunately “vulnerable” is exactly what I had to make myself if I was going to recover. I had to take off my mask and realize very quickly that IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO SAVE MY ASS THAN SAVE MY FACE (false pride).
You can’t get emotionally well while hiding behind a facade of “bad-ass” or “tough-girl”. Sure that’s how we survive on the streets. But to actually heal emotionally, well that takes a stance of vulnerable, student eager to learn.
And if God is not at the helm of our recovery then it may not fall into place the way it could. We ask God to guide us in our recovery and to help us stay clean and sober and heal. Then we can say to ourselves every time we get scared or confused, “I am right where I am supposed to be God has my back in this”.
Therapy is important, but it must be the right therapy. Meetings are important, but if they are not the right meetings they can do more damage than good. That’s why we pray first. Every morning.
Here is the prayer I have used. I learned it in jail ten years ago next month.
“God, guide me in my recovery. May the Peace of mind that surpasses all Earthly understanding guide my heart and mind into all Truth. Let my words be your words and your words be my words. Bless the hearts and minds of all those I come in contract with. Thank you for this opportunity to do the next right thing.” Amen