The early days of recovery can feel like they drag on forever. You may feel empty, depressed or like you’ve lost your best friend. All sorts of emotions begin to surface. Emotions that you didn’t even know existed.
Anger, fear, grief, shame. These feelings can rise up in your body and feel like you’re being assaulted. You may feel filled with rage or like crying for hours. You may feel like you want revenge or you may experience self-loathing. When these emotions surface, it’s vital to seek support and resources.
Let’s explore ways you can handle these uncomfortable emotions.
All emotions have a cause and a purpose in our lives. Each emotion serves a function that only it can do. But after years in active addiction, we start to lose our ability to identify our emotions. Sober Living Chicago Houses can bring you the support you need to safely explore the following emotions:
Anger is within us as a protective mechanism signifying a boundary violation. When anger arises, we must first ask ourselves, “did someone violate my boundary or did I violate my own boundary by going against my values?”
Functions: Drives us to action, signals a boundary violation
- Journaling about your anger- this can help calm the anger so you can see and understand it more clearly
- Speaking with a trusted person or in group about the anger
- If the anger is towards yourself, identifying where you violated your value code and remedy the situation- amends and self-forgiveness are ways to begin remedying the situation
- If the anger is towards another person, PAUSE- allow yourself time to process your anger with a trusted other, then communicate your boundary
- Identify the fear hidden beneath the anger- “what am I afraid of?”
- Seek feedback from others- what do they see? How have they handled anger regarding a similar situation? Learn from others
* Oftentimes, anger will dissolve after we feel listened to and validated, which is why speaking to a counselor, sponsor or peer at a Sober Living Chicago house can be so helpful
Underneath all anger is fear. We’re afraid of losing someone or something. The two most common fears in the human experience are the fear of rejection and abandonment.
Functions: Protection, survival
- Journaling about your fear with two columns marked “true fear” and “imagined fear”
- Speaking with a trusted person or in group- you’ll find that most other people have the same fear
- Seek feedback- what suggestions might they have? How have they handled a similar fear in the past?
It’s important that we get in touch with our grief during the recovery process. It’s normal to feel intense feelings of loss as we step from our half-life of addiction, into our full-life of sobriety. We need to be able to grieve and release:
- Our drug-of-choice
- Relationships during active addiction
- Mistakes during active addiction (after taking responsibility and making amends)
- Lost opportunities
Functions: Making way for the new
- Welcoming the stages of grief into your life. It’s all part of the process- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
- Speaking to a trusted person or your group
- Seeking feedback
During early recovery, we must begin to separate our healthy shame from toxic shame. Healthy shame is what we feel for hurting those we love. Healthy shame moves us to recognize the pain we caused, take responsibility and change our direction.
Toxic shame is what happens when we feel unworthy, defective or damaged. This type of shame can create “shame spirals” that pull us down quickly. We need to separate the two: “I am not a bad person for making a mistake, but I did something bad and need to take responsibility for correcting it.”
Functions: Prompts us to change course and make amends
- Speaking with a trusted person
- Seeking feedback
- Making amends
Loving Yourself Through It All
Above all, do NOT isolate. This is a trap. Reach out. Seek support. And give yourself credit for how far you’ve come. Be patient with yourself. Encourage yourself. And, most importantly, love yourself, not the addiction.
Sober Living Chicago Resources
If you’re looking for Sober Living Chicago facilities that will provide the support and accountability you need while you sort out your emotions, contact us. We are committed to helping you maintain sobriety. Give us a call today!