I’m an intellectual, analytical sort of guy by nature. So regardless of my addiction – or perhaps in addition to my addiction – I don’t connect well with my feelings. I can analyze a situation, describe the feelings I am, was or should be feeling…but I haven’t always connected with the emotions involved. I think it’s part of my coping mechanism for life. Coping with isn’t the same as living, just like tolerating someone isn’t the same as loving them.
I want to experience life – live life – love others…not just cope and tolerate.
I’m learning how to these days in recovery with a lot of tools and help.
This week, I realized how strong that coping mechanism has been. About a month ago, a friend told me stuff I never knew that was going on around me and about me while I was in my last years of active addiction. In my selfish, self-centered world, I didn’t think anyone knew about my using — nor cared. Secretly, there were times I remember hoping someone would care, would say something — but I also know that most attempts to “help me” would have just driven me further away, strengthening my denial and the grip drugs had on me.
This friend told me about how people very close to me were aware of my using, sometimes in surprisingly graphic and real detail. But, these same folks knew that in most cases, the best thing to do is to let go, and let someone’s Higher Power guide events. Knowing and yet not being able to help was painful for them. The helplessness, the despair, the concern, the fear. And, I was oblivious to it all.
But, my analytical mind had really only processed this on one very intellectual level until this week. I filed the “news” away in my memory – didn’t talk about it with anyone really – but it would surface from time to time. Yesterday, I was talking with my sponsor and told him about this realization of the world around me – of the pain and worry I caused for some of the closest people in my life. Even then, I honestly felt little – it was a story, seemingly someone else’s.
Last night, I had some dreams that brought this awareness to light. I awoke and lay in bed thinking about what I shared the day before. I saw the people involved in my mind, and started to cry – sobbing heavily as a greater sense of guilt, regret and sadness came over me. It finally all hit me — and I simply allowed myself to feel the pain and sadness.
I know the outcome is amazing – we’ve survived this and they continue to be in my life. I will make amends when the time is right. But, the self-awareness from this is a great gift of recovery. The fact that these two folks courageously faced this situation with appropriate “detached love” and continue to be in my life is an even greater gift.
But perhaps the greatest gift was the reconnection between my intellect and my emotion. I understand better how important it is to live more authentically with the union of heart and mind, living through and experiencing the feelings of joy, sadness, fear that come with the events in life. For now, for me, this takes conscious awareness and an effort to remain open to possibilities, to new world views, and to a maturing capacity to feel. The “lag” between events and feeling them is growing shorter, but it’s still there. My ability to detach is so strongly rooted in my way of living that it will take time to grow.
But, baby steps.
Today, I can see it for how it should really be.
Today, I feel the pain I cause others. And for now, that is a wonderful gift.
To be continued….