In the late 80’s, I spent four years in what I choose to call a Christian Cult. One of the teachings there focused on managing feelings – controlling them – keeping them in check. The idea was we should not allow our feelings to run our lives. Discipline, character, moral code, acting despite how we might feel — these were held up as goals of “right living.”
Feed that to an addict who already has a well-developed set of coping skills to avoid pain, to numb my feelings…and any hope of balance is out the window! I added that tool to my toolkit, and found myself years later with an even stronger set of coping skills. This was all before I started to drink compulsively or use illegal drugs.
What I’m learning now is how to undo years of either unhealthy messages – or messages that THIS addict took hold of and used to serve his own unhealthy purposes.
First, I’m learning to admit I’m powerless over my feelings. I can’t manage them – I can’t control them…nor should I. Instead, I need to lean in them, live through them, and feel them. At times they may be intense. The changes I’m going through this week with my move, anticipating the first anniversary of being fired from my 19 year career because of my addiction, being reminded of the loss of a seven-year relationship – have all brought up intense feelings of sadness, grief, pain. But, I’m learning that is NATURAL! They won’t consume me. I can live through them. And I know that one day I will also live through similar intense feelings of joy, celebration, love, surprise.
This is live – on life’s terms. And what an amazing gift.
So yes – feelings don’t have to run my life, because I am powerless over them. BUT, I don’t have to RUN from feelings in my life!
“Pain is inevitable…misery is optional.” Today, I choose to experience the pain, but also choose to seek peace and comfort amidst the pain.
That is growth.
For that, I’m thankful.