Handling my feelings has never been my forte. In fact, at age 51, I am still getting acquainted with my feelings and allowing them to manifest without numbing them out, running from them through hyper-busyness, or sublimating them to something less painful that leaves me feeling less exposed (i.e. sadness, shame, or fear to anger).
Having Bipolar Disorder, a couple of serious addictions, and malaptive coping skills gifted by my family of origin, it has taken 25 years of a Recovery journey to gather the tools and the courage to face my emotions, processing them, expressing them, and acting on them in a healthy way.
I have spent many years retraining my mind to think (using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the cognitive shifts that are part of AA’s Recovery process) in ways that aren’t self-destructive, self-shaming, self-defeating, self-hating, obsessive, vindictive, dishonest, self-serving, hateful, super intense, mean, manipulative, controlling, fear-based, and the list goes on.
The more and the longer I employed Cognitive Behavioral techniques and AA’s architecture for living, the more manageable my feelings became. And the less often I felt the toxic feelings of hate, rage, self-pity, resentment, shane, and unhealthy fear. AND the more mentally and spiritually fit I stay provided I continue my efforts to redirect my thinking when it starts going to dark, debilitating places.
The essence of Cognitive Behavioral is that as one’s thoughts go, one’s feelings follow. My experience tells me this is 100% true.
By the grace of my Higher Power and my efforts, today I am very good with feelings, given my starting point. One day at a time.
But I am pressing on to a new frontier in my Recovery journey (doing Attachment work and EMDR) to hopefully root and expel at least some of my demons instead of focusing solely on keeping them at bay.