26 Dec Emotional Sobriety
“Taking Recovery to the Next Level – Emotional Sobriety and How to Get It”
The Neurotic’s Take on Emotions in Recovery
Written By Kirk Markey — December 26, 2016
Okay folks, I’m going to get a little personal this week. Forgive me for doing so, but emotional sobriety is a subject that’s close to my heart, mostly because I’m really terrible at it. But hopefully, other addicts will benefit for reading my story. They’ll at least have a better idea what NOT to do I suppose.
So here goes. First off, left to my own devices, I’m completely neurotic. I worry about everything, from the condition of my big toe to stock market fluctuations in Indonesia. But mostly I worry about me. I worry about what this or that imaginary person might think about me and what benefits I can wring out the washcloth of life. Etcetera and so on until I go insane.
I don’t mean to be like this, and I sure don’t think it’s a great quality. I’m just really self centered when left to my own devices. Fortunately, and with a lot of help, I’ve found a solution to a few hundred of the nine million things that bother me. Here’s some of what I did to become the absolute emotional rock you see before you today.
Expectations, Emotional Dependence and How I Got Halfway Free
I got clean and sober 13 years ago using the 12 steps. It’s not the only or even the best way to do it, but that’s what I did. And while doing a moral inventory, I discovered (again) that I was completely dependent on the outside world for, well, pretty much everything. But the worst was that I needed others’ approval for my self esteem and emotional well being. Thank God that’s totally gone. No, it’s really not.
So I had to reduce my expectations, period. I had to understand that other people did not exist in any sort of relation to me. No one owed me anything. No one. And what they did give to me was a gift. I had to stop reducing people I cared about to Kirk support units. They had their own lives, and I had to derive my self esteem from within.
Participating in the Human Experience and Why Not Me?
Jokes aside, two things are definitely true. I’ve achieved a lot more emotional independence and I’m still really whiny. There’s a lot of work to be done, most of it a continuation of what I did to improve in the first place. Here are a few things that helped me.
I reduced my expectations and emotional dependence by developing myself. I built relationships with lots of people. I had to divide the burden of my madness between many people, so it took longer for them to get tired of it. And when I got uncomfortable (19 times a day), I allowed myself to feel it. Eventually, the discomfort would go away, as long as I took action. The actions were being a good employee, friend, and husband.
And I put the following ideas into practice. Pain, deprivation, and hard work are all part of the beautiful and awful human experience. I began to participate in this more fully. I participated in the hardship, anguish, and joy of the human condition. And when something bad happened, like a rock in my shoe for instance, instead of saying “Why Me?,” I said “Why not me?” Seriously, who am I to be exempt from the difficulties of life? No one, that’s who.
We’ll continue this next week, when I tell you the clearly epic story of my further emotional development in recovery. I’m sure you’ll be on the edge of your seats.