One of the things I noticed in my first few months of recovery was feelings beginning to come back to me. I began to notice huge changes in moods and my emotional state, from massive highs and feelings of joy and euphoria to what felt like endless lows.
People in the rooms described these swings and new experiences as ’emotions coming back to me’. This was after years and years or avoiding or pushing them down through drink, drugs and other compulsive behaviours. I thought that was it, but a year or so later I’ve realised that was only the start of my emotional journey in recovery…
I recently went through some therapy, which in itself has been another really positive experience. I’ve found that being clean and sober means that now I can actually work through other life issues which have been a big part of my past, I can begin to work on and heal other parts of myself now that the drinking and drug abuse has stopped. During this time my therapist (who is also in the rooms themselves) told me that I might be in a period of mourning, grieving for the old version of myself that chased a life of drinking and drugs rather than a life of connection and growth.
I was slightly doubtful, it felt like maybe this was more abstract therapist talk, but a few days later I began to feel it, I began to feel this pain and grief. It was a physical sensation, a very heavy, aching sensation across my entire chest. This mass also felt like it was collapsing in on itself, kind of like a mini black-hole. It was awful, and while it was stronger during certain times of day, It didn’t actually go away for two full days.
During this time I still felt connected to myself, to my programme and the world around me. Having the programme there and the tools to work through it was something I was hugely grateful to have. I was able to meditate, center myself, I was able to call people and talk this through with others and begin to be able to accept how I was feeling.
What really strikes me is how scary it is that someone in their 30’s can start to experience such strong emotional responses in this way. That this can come up because someone has essentially been repressing and avoiding connecting with how they are feeling and their emotions for most of their adult life.
During this time I know one thing, that despite the pain I was grateful to finally be standing up to how I really felt, I was grateful to be present, to be listening to (and accepting) my inner self and how I was actually was feeling. I was grateful, that thanks to my programme of recovery I knew that I was ultimately going to be ok, that this feeling would pass…