Post by Susan Peabody on Apr 26, 2023 18:37:40 GMT -8
Processing Painful Emotions
1. Admit that you have to process your painful emotions. Nothing can change until you acknowledge that you are in pain now because of past trauma. This is the first step. It helps to admit that you need help. Most of all, be fearlessly honest with yourself.
2. Identify the emotions left over from the past and that you are feeling them again right now.
▪ chronic insecurity
▪ chronic anxiety
▪ feelings of alienation
▪ a profound hunger for love
▪ an exaggerated fear of abandonment and rejection
▪ feelings of deprivation
▪ feelings of emptiness
▪ confusion or fear when love is available
▪ anxiety when things are going well
3. Talk about what you remember about the past, i.e. feelings of rejection and abandonment. Talk at meetings. Talk with your sponsor. Talk to a therapist. Talk to a friend. Find someone you can trust and who can either sympathize or even empathize with what you have gone through and are now re-experiencing. Don’t stop talking until you have emptied out your pain. Do not think you are talking too much or bothering someone. You are in recovery. This exercise is not a conversation. You do not have to ask how you listener is feeling. You have to talk and let things you have forgotten seep up from you unconscious.
4. Write in your journal about what you are discovering. As you write, marvelous things you have forgotten will spill out onto the page. This can be a personal journal, or you can share it with others. You must pour your heart out and further this process of self-discovery.
5. Feel all of your emotions as they come up without using unhealthy mood-altering experiences to escape. No one likes to feel painful emotions. We like to self-medicate or distract ourselves with a coping mechanism. We like to hide our feelings or stuff them or lash at others to release them. Do not let shame stop you from feeling your emotions. There is no emotion that you should be ashamed of. Even if you did something you regret because of your feelings, you can deal with that when you make amends. For now, you must just feel. This was the very first thing I heard at my very first meeting in Alcoholics Anonymous. My sponsor said, “If you want to recover you have to feel your feelings.” I did and it hurt, and now I am passing on this information to you so you can recover.
6. Grieve what you went through and what you are going through now. If you can’t do this directly, imagine that your inner child was (and is) hurt, and do for him/her what you cannot do for yourself. Grieving is a process. You wish you had not suffered so much. You wish you could have had loving parents. You want what you did not get as a child. You wish you had not just lost someone in your current life.
7. Get angry for a while if you have spent a lifetime suppressing your emotions. This is an important step in the process of healing. It is part of letting go. When you get angry you are being honest. You are not making excuses for someone. You are feeling what your were not allowed to feel as a child. For more about anger, see Susan Anderson’s book: The Journey from Abandonment and Healing.
8. Do not get lost in the anger. Anger is a “double edged sword.” It is part of the process, not the process itself. As soon as you are able, move on and put what happened into perspective.
9. After you put things into perspective, consider forgiving the people who hurt you in the past and present. To forgive means to let go of resentment. You do not have to like them, associate with them, or let them continue to hurt you. This suggestion is controversial. Some professionals say it is not necessary or might even be harmful. AA says it is an absolute imperative. I believe it is important. Nothing changed in my life until I forgave my mother and my ex-husband. Remember that the suggestion to forgive comes after you have felt your anger.
10. Accept what happened to you. How do you do this? You can’t do it right away. You can’t do it when you want to. You can’t do it while you are in the angry stage. You will do it when you are ready. You can push yourselves a little, but balance this with patience. Tell yourselves: these are the cards I was dealt. Maybe something good came out of this. According to AA: “Acceptance is the answer to all our problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation.”
11. Move on. This is the fun part. You drop all of this. You create a new life. You embrace your present and dream about the future. You live a life of abundance. Of course, the past will come back to haunt you now and then because this is the way the brain works, especially when you go back to the past in your mind—to the scene of the crime.
12. Take care of yourselves. Do for yourselves what you parents could not or would not do. This means a little pampering, forgiving yourselves and having fun.
As time goes on the pain of the past and the present will lessen and come up less often to disrupt your new life in recovery.