Emotional Sobriety

from Google

Sometimes I'm so grateful for the tools my S-AnonCandeo, and AA programs have taught me that I feel like I could burst at the seams. Like brightly colored confetti of happiness is going to fly out of me in all different directions at any given moment. I’m that dang thankful for all that I’ve learned the last six years.

Recently we had an issue in our home with one of our children. It was something that I couldn’t control. Lord knows I wished I could. (We all know how much I love(d) that control. But this time, it was totally out of my hands. In the end, it was a way for me to sit down and have an open and honest conversation about some very difficult topics. My program tools helped me do that.

So did my emotional sobriety.

Because if I didn’t have emotional sobriety, I think I would’ve been thrown into a world of chaos and that could’ve led me to slip in either of my programs (with hypervigilance or drugs).

Emotional sobriety is being aware of your emotions, no matter what they are and not ignoring them. Then when you’ve acknowledged those feelings, you deal with them in a healthy way. It's finding a healthy balance, a sense of calm, even when life gets chaotic. Had I not had emotional sobriety during that time my child was going through crisis (and still is), I would've been right there alongside them, losing my cool too…being sucked into the problem instead of creating the solutions.

I often wonder if emotional sobriety is overlooked sometimes during recovery. Not just for the addict’s recovery but for their partner’s recovery too. The focus tends to be on getting the addiction itself stopped, whatever it is: drugs, alcohol, porn, but then what? How is the addict, partner, and the family supposed to learn how to manage life after the addiction is addressed?

I know I fell into some unhealthy roles before I had it. My emotional sobriety served me well during our talk. It allowed me to listen to my child instead of commandeer the situation. It kept me from panicking instead of accepting the problem. And I also didn't lash out at the person who caused the situation. Instead, I thought about it first, then responded. The old me would've reacted in about three seconds flat with a nasty phone call or email. So, I'm very grateful to have this tool in my toolbox.

For those of you who'd like to hear a great talk on emotional sobriety, here's a link to a talk by Tom B. Jr. I posted it three years ago but I listen to this at least twice a year. It's that good and it's not just for addicts and alcoholics. This guy is a fantastic speaker and deserves a spot at Ted Talks.


What about you? Do you tend to get wrapped up in family problems or do you step back and offer solutions? Or do you distance yourself completely?

K is (White) Knuckling: A-Z Challenge

I admit it.  I’m kinda cheating with this word.  I rolled around topics in my head and white knuckling stuck.

It’s a term heard in the addiction world - trying to stay sober without a good recovery in place.  Like gripping the seat on a roller coaster with all your strength so you don’t fall off instead of trusting the safety harness to do its job.  Your knuckles turn white from the strain of trusting only yourself.  The belt is there to keep you safe, much like the tools of sobriety are there to keep you sober.

Addicts tend to hold onto a ton of anger, insecurities, resentments, and other unresolved emotions.  If these issues are not addressed, then the potential for relapse increases.  When relapse occurs, the addict can enter into that vicious cycle of addiction again: 


When I met my husband he was white knuckling it.  He knew he had a problem but wasn’t ready to admit it.  It didn’t help that neither one of us heard of sex addiction yet.  Although he stopped all of his acting out behaviors, he was an emotional mess inside.  It didn’t take long for the addiction cycle to set in motion again.

After I found out about his addiction, I white knuckled my own recovery.  I thought since I wasn’t the addict, (at least in his addiction) I didn’t need a support system of my own.  I felt reaching out for help made me a weak person.  I didn’t realize it takes a strong individual to extend their hand to someone else for help up off the floor.

In the midst of my recovery, I discovered my own need for emotional sobriety.  I had no clue just because I was 20 years sober from cocaine, I needed help dealing with unresolved emotions that led me to the addiction in the first place.  Once I learned healthy coping mechanisms, my life became calm. 


And, that rocks!

Have you ever been afraid to ask for help?


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?

"D" is for Divorce (or not): A-Z Challenge

D is for Divorce

illustrated by Rob Z Tobor

 A year and a half after I discovered my husband was a sex addict, I was ready to kick him to the curb. I’m grateful I didn’t.  I would have lost so much if I hadn’t struggled forward.

You’d think I would have been ready to dump him the moment I found out about the affairs.  Yet, as hurt as I was, I understood he has an addiction.  (That’s not to say I didn’t use the word divorce at least once a week those first few months.)  Eventually I was able to separate what he had done during his active addiction from who he truly is, a great man.

After a year in recovery, he grew stagnant and I struggled with my patience.  He wouldn’t face his shifted addictions - food and buying. He bought small things off eBay to fill a void.  He purchased new releases on DVD then returned them unused. He constantly snacked.  It was maddening.  I saw he shifted addictions, why couldn’t he?

from Bing
Even though he agreed he needed help managing his feelings of isolation and loneliness, he did nothing.  He entered into that frustrating world of denial.  After a few months, I had enough.

I threw down the divorce card and said, “I can’t do this with you anymore. I want a divorce.”

“I understand.  I won’t stop you from leaving. I’ll help you any way I can,” he answered.

A part of me was devastated he didn’t fight for our marriage. Then I realized he was ashamed.  He relapsed and was afraid to tell me.  It wasn’t until I had plans in place to move out of state, that he finally made his confession to me.

We saw my rockin’ counselor together and she gently told him he may have ADD and OCD.  It wasn’t an easy thing for him to hear but I think he already had suspicions.

Together, we learned about emotional sobriety. It never dawned on me that getting sober, for either one of us, included managing our feelings.  It meant feeling all of our emotions without letting them define us.  What others take for granted, we had to learn.

Divorce was taken off the table. 

Instead, we focused on the progress we made in our marriage rather than the moments of chaos.  We promised to work harder on communicating, especially the difficult things.
The topic of divorce hasn't come up in a long time.  

I’m so grateful I didn’t throw in the towel.

Have you been close to throwing in the towel, only to change your mind?

Spring Restoration

We had a two-day stretch of warm weather recently.  Then, the temperatures plummeted and we had snow.  During that brief warm spell, my daffodils began to bud. 
This is from Bing but it could me mine.  Pretend it is mine.
I was elated at the prospect of spring arriving any day now.  To me, the season means the beginning of new things. Winter sheds it’s thick coat and reveals all the beautiful colors of spring.  Soon, we’ll see yellow, red, pink, and blue in everyone’s yards.  That’s so much prettier than the brown of dead grass and dried up leaves.

Spring also brings me hope.  It reminds me things that once seemed bleak can be restored to its fullest potential and become beautiful. 

Even our emotions.

Mine have been all over the map lately.  One minute I feel grateful to be alive than the next I’m pissed off at something I’ve learned to overlook. (Who cares if Devin didn't make the bed.  I can do it too!)  I’m certain it has something to do with my recent withdrawal from Cymbalta.  I think there may be some lingering side effects rolling around in this here brain of mine.  At least the mind zaps are almost gone.

This array of emotions may also be from the aches and pains I’ve been dealing with the last few months.  No one can be expected to be even-keeled while managing that.

Instead of beating myself up for not remaining serene all the time, I’ve accepted it.  Now that I’ve acknowledged it, I can change it. As my beloved Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge” or something like that.

It’s time to break out the yoga again and see how far I can get.  I need to remember not to be upset if I can only make it for ten minutes.  That’s ten minutes more than zero.  

I need to dive back into my step work. My step four is collecting dust.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of bats flew out of the book when I opened it.  Well, okay, I’d be pretty surprised and also pretty freaking scared. 

I also need to take a warm, soothing bath to treat myself.  Maybe I’ll even spring (see what I did there?) for that massage guy in the mall.  You know the one?  He has his chair set up in the middle of mall and charges for each fifteen-minute increment? Yeah, that guy, Mr. Strong Hands.

I know everything is going to fall into place again because I saw this yesterday:
I'm impressed with my camera skills!
Oh, wait. Did I forget to mention it won't get past forty degrees for the rest of the week?  I guess I need to wait for spring a bit longer but I’ll be ready when it finally arrives.

What’s your favorite thing about spring?