September 23, 2011

A Different Spiral Staircase...

Last week (as I was reflecting on 9/11 and its place in my emotional health story),  my EA travelers and I meditated on this passage from our literature.  

"In the process of learning and growing, I often find myself needing to deal with something I thought I had already eliminated. At these times I have rejected myself for being where I was. "I should not be here again," I thought. Slowly I am gaining the humility to understand that the program offers me greater and greater levels of  healing. We only have to be willing to meet honestly the challenges which confront us in order for healing and growth to continue."

Emotions Anonymous,  Today, September 12

I was really struck by one member's share, and asked her if I might reprint it here. 

I'm Karen F.  and I'm powerless over my emotions.

I had a sponsor at one point who referred to the process of recovery as an upward spiral.  On our journey upwards we revisited the same issue, but on a higher level each time.  But as we come to the curves, we also risk a relapse--the same point that offers an opportunity for growth can become a reason to slide backwards.

I have found her wisdom to be true.  Some person, place, or thing can be an obstacle for me or an opportunity.

How I feel going through this may be the same.  I can experience fear and anxiety, and refuse to move forwards.  Or I can experience the same emotions, but choose to move forward and feel the feelings while asking for help from my Higher Power and others in recovery--my choice.

If I focus on not feeling my emotions, I'll stagnate.  And since I've been taught that there is no standing still in recovery, I will slide backwards.

I am discovering how much I don't like being uncomfortable.  Since all growth requires going through an uncomfortable space, I have to be willing to be out of my comfort zone in order to recover.


To which I immediately was moved to reply:  

Oh my gosh, Karen,  this put my relapse last November into perspective.

The curve I hit last November was the final spin up to the top. 

I had just asked my psychiatrist if he would write an article with me about my successful recovery. He said no, I was not a scientist and I should write something literary. I tried to put a positive spin on his feedback and look for  the good. But there was still residual shame in my gas tank and I had come too close to empty I guess.  That disappointment and shame response coupled with a significant family anniversary coming up.... the death of my closest cousin. She died on Thanksgiving of 2001, and for our family this was so closely tied to 9/11... My cousin was an angel.. and she  had come back to New York state to share her new family with her parents. And she had been taken away, in her sleep. 

I also had a dear friend with suicidal depression who was coming to visit us Thanksgiving weekend, and felt the pressure to be a solid ground for her to stand on.

Even my therapist thought I was normal by this point. But I simply lost my footing.
Because of the way I handled these coincidences, and tried too hard to be a rock and not bend,  I hit one of those emotional sinkholes.  I don't blame myself.  As I was trying to move into complete remission,  life had its other "plans" for me.  

It is, as another program friend says, "Tuition in the school of life."

Now we--psychiatrist, therapist and I-- know that I have this wonderful, rare sensitivity. One night of no sleep at a trigger point,  and I lose my usual reference points and can't "make" the curve. Yet, once I am back on track, I can again, make the curves of my life relying on my good cognition (which is only compromised when I am unable to sleep.)

So, thank you for this  share.  You gave me good insight for the next time I come round the bend.  Talking with others like myself, I see that I have many choices. This year I can be more aware and not fight so hard when  I am coming up to a meaningful anniversary.  That bend in a staircase I have traveled before. But I can sit down and drive more consciously, and less in the thrall of the fear that bites me. 

I don't have to prove I am stonger than I am. And giving up the need to prove means I am more likely to take the curve slow and easy...

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