April 24, 2011

Emotions, Acceptance Before Action...

CTC's reading for April 23rd was a good reminder for me on many fronts:  For one, it put into black and white a program saying I had forgotten:  "As they say in recovery, first things get different, then they get better."

Like the author of the reading,  I came into our program, I didn't let myself feel some emotions.  When I faced major changes I would say, "This should be no problem, I can take it." Strength was something I thought required stoicism.  Before program I relied heavily on stoicism. I put Action before Acceptance.

I vowed to "fix" my emotions before they "fixed" me. 

One day that no longer worked.   I discovered that many of my most tender feelings had gone underground through years of living with the challenge of a parent with borderline personality disorder.  In my adult life, I had become good at  denying my vulnerability to many angers, sorrows and even joy. 

As long as I kept them hidden from my awareness,  my feelings were painful and poisonous secrets. When I let them out, they became expressions of my vitality.

Thankfully, my program friends were learning to identify their feelings, and it helped me to witness how they experienced theirs, shared them and lived at peace with them. 

I was always very happy that I could feel my emotions, and proud that I could share them. But then I learned that, in actuality,  I frequently denied my emotions, through thinking them out of existence.  Then I would be totally unprepared when they burst forth as anxiety, resentment and anger.  When I at last learned began to recognize emotions, unable to endure them stoically, I was so uncomfortable at first that I thought I was going to relapse! As many of you know I relapsed last fall, despite my best intentions. Today I see that experience as uncovering a relict of my stoicism.  

Through program, I've learned to stay honest, open and willing. It helped to learn from others, who were ahead of me in their recovery. Their openness encouraged me to be vulnerable, their example showed me that each discomfort would pass, but that discomfort was an important part of the process of knowing myself. As I became more accepting of my feelings, the discomfort did pass. Slowly I am becoming more present to everything in my life.

Today, I am grateful to experience a fuller range of emotions.

I've learned to use our program's meditation time, to check in with myself  to see how I feel. Whether I am experiencing joy or sadness, I can have gratitude. For each feeling reminds me I am alive~

"I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears..into calm. It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter." Kahlil Gibran

I also love that occasionally, my two programs complement each other, and they do so on the exact same day!  

I'll briefly paraphrase APRIL 23rd's reading from the EA Today book:

I did not like most of my feelings. Instead of accepting them, I frequently denied or suppressed them.  (Personally,  I over-analyze mine.) Now I know that denial and over-responsibility caused my symptoms such as anxiety, panic, insomnia... Willpower alone does not silence my emotions, for feelings must come out somewhere. 

When I accept my feelings, then can I surrender them to a Higher Power and only then are feelings free to change. I thought it was helpful, when experiencing a feeling I did not want, to try to talk it away. But that is not acceptance; that is creating a lock-down with my emotion. 

"I must go back to Step One for powerlessness, Step Two for believing in a Higher Power, and Step Three for surrender."

Higher Power, "help me to accept my feelings and then surrender them to You." May I realize that emotions that don't pass quickly, are hear to teach me something I need to learn.   

FROM: TODAY BOOK, (emotionsanonymous.org), Copyright Emotions Anonymous,  (Third printing, 1991)."


  1. Feelings have to flow through. It is okay to have them and accept them. I don't stuff anything anymore.

  2. I like that: feelings have to flow through you. I wonder sometimes if the old timers in AA get that. I have this sense that my early emotional recovery did not allow much room for the negatives.... only for positive self-statements. Some emotions are problematic.... and I get the feeling they do get censored in the name of setting a good example. Anyone else every felt that?


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~