ADDICTION RECOVERY – A JOURNEY TO UNDERSTANDING WHAT FEELING BETTER REALLY MEANS
by Alison Smela, Speaker, Writer, Addiction Recovery Advocate and Mentor
After many years of confusion and often reckless behavior I found myself finally willing to overcome a long battle with alcohol and an eating disorder.
In the very early days of recovery I was often told, “Trust me, you’ll feel better soon” or, “I know this is hard, but I promise, you’ll feel better soon.” I lived by those words. I was so shaky, ashamed and scared. I felt awful. I desperately hoped the non-stop physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual suffering would stop. I wanted so badly to feel better, physically as well as emotionally. I tried each and every day to focus on those words of reassurance and deny what I thought and felt inside. I held tight to the recommendations of my recovery role models, the encouragement from my friends and family outside the rooms of recovery, and my willingness to get better, hoping eventually I’d feel better.
And eventually I did, but not in the way I had expected. What began to happen was I started to feel my feelings better. I started to feel happiness better, I started to feel anger better, and I started to feel sadness better.
Although this sounds like a play on words – feeling my feelings better - the point is, in order for me to experience healthy recovery I had to allow myself to actually feel what I had long been trying to deflect, change, or control.
Those early days were years ago yet at times I still struggle to find just the right word to describe a specific situation or thought, which proves challenging as a writer.
When I am in that place of confusion my Thesaurus proves miraculous. In the search to find a well-fitting word I’m usually led to others, ultimately widening my perspective and even course-correcting the direction for what I’m writing.
However, when trying to find the right word to describe what I’m feeling on personal level, the Thesaurus isn’t a viable solution. Quite often I struggle to pinpoint precisely what’s flowing through me. After many years walking life’s journey I’ve yet to uncover some one-size-fits-all word to express my state of mind.
This is why when I opened the box containing my set of Feeling Magnets I almost heard angels sing! In the excitement of finding so many choices to describe varying states of emotion I immediately wanted to share them with my recovery-focused friends and professionals who I’m privileged to stand beside.
Like many of these friends and associates, I do all I can to remain willingly and painstakingly honest, which was key for me to overcome life-threatening addiction and associated obsessions of body and mind. The ability to stay honest and willing hasn’t wavered as I face the ups and downs of my life today.
I learned the hard way that my use of an unhealthy behavior or drug of choice was not my problem. They were my solution. My real problem was the need to avoid emotions associated with everyday life.
This is why a resource like the Feeling Magnets could be profoundly useful for those who struggle to make sense of what is “really” going on in their mind and heart. In the beginning most have a very hard time verbalizing what is troubling them when simply admitting they need help seems like a hopeless effort. To have Feeling Magnets in hand with the various ways to cobble together something that makes sense would prove nothing less than miraculous.
The magnetic container provides an automatic space to attach a few feeling words to simply start describing what is felt. Yet the impermanence allows for a change of mind.
My experience proves there’s something about seeing a word or collection of words that can propel me to reconsider and replace with other words to more accurately describe my state of mind and heart.
For me, and many like me who walk a path of recovery, the life lessons we learn are endless. One such lesson I’ve carried into my career as a writer is the power of the pause.
Something magnificent happens when I stop for even just a second to reflect and reconsider word choices. For matters of the heart, this simple action can make all the difference in the world. And for those who struggle with untreated addiction or an eating disorder, quite possibly life or death.
About the Author
After a 30-year battle, Alison Smela has overcome the obsessions associated with alcoholism and eating disorder. Her mission is to help others find the same kind of freedom from addition and foundational change she has embraced. Alison also maintains a blog, Alison’s Insights writing about the many life lessons she has learned through her recovery process and how she now incorporates those lessons into her daily life.
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