It’s been an odd period of time recently. Lows of losing my friend Mick, a colleague of my wife’s dying very suddenly really upset her…. But then good stuff – my son got engaged, my daughter got offered a new secondment and also was told she has passed her masters.
I was reflecting on this with some recovery friends last night. Now I can accept that I can feel both happy and sad simultaneously. I never did feelings before – that was I believe why I drank. I liked that alcohol provided the perfect anaesthetic to emotions. My dear departed friend Mick would have agreed – I use that work “anaesthetic” because it was one he regularly used to describe what alcohol did to him. That’s why he was one of my best friends in AA because that was like me – I wholly identified with him on that point.
Now however I feel those emotions. I’ve learnt to identify them initially as Happy, Sad etc. then with my nuance to understand grief’s difference from anguish. One key point said to me once early in sobriety where as a 40something adult I was struggling with now living with emotions and trying to understand them was “No one can deny your feelings.” Of course they can’t – only I feel them. The only person feeling what I feel now is me and only I can identify it, label it (if necessary) and ultimately only I can deal with it. So if I tell you I’m grieving the loss of my friend but also am elated about my children’s’ good news you can never question that – that is my perceptions of my feelings at this moment – that is my reality.
There is an oft quoted adage in AA – “The good news about recovery is your get your feelings back. The bad news about recovery is that you get your feelings back”.
Although I’ve had this quoted at me and quoted it to others I can say – I certainly am so much more whole as a human being with my feelings intact and not blunted by alcohol’s effect.