Emotional sobriety, the ability to feel and cope with emotions instead of masking them with drug or alcohol use, can be even more difficult to achieve than physical sobriety.
Many people think that because they read in a book that recovery will make them “happy, joyous and free,” their life will suddenly turn into a Norman Rockwell painting and Little John will wish everyone a “Good night” at the end of the day. That way of thinking can be very dangerous. What happens when life’s normal winding road hits? Is something wrong with me if I am not “happy, joyous and free” all the time?
Happiness is an emotion. Well, a large order of McDonald’s french fries (no salt) sure does make me happy. Can I live my life based on that feeling? I cannot; it is not sustainable.
Joy is something that lies within. It is the truth that no matter what comes my way, I can face it with a sense of joy and peace that God is in control.
Freedom is a state of mind. It is the restoration of my belief that the disease of alcoholism no longer binds me.
When I got sober in a 12-step program, my emotions were all over the place. I had nothing to numb the feelings I had been burying with alcohol. I needed to find a new way to not only understand my emotions but to learn how to deal with them.
Emotions are part of the human experience. I will feel happy and sad and angry and the entire basket of emotions we all have.
Emotional sobriety for me is learning how to experience life and its emotional ups and downs and just be present for them.
I do not have to run away or hide from how I feel. How I react is paramount for me and those around me. I can no longer bamboozle my way through life, doing and saying as I please based on how I feel at any given moment. That does not mean that I am always in a place where my emotions cannot get the best of me. But a drink is no longer the answer to anything that comes my way.
Emotional sobriety lets me be me and lets you be you. It is the ability not to be bound by my reactions to my emotions. I am not a robot, I am a human being. I will always experience my emotions; what I do with that is emotional sobriety. I have never died from experiencing an emotion. I could have died by how I chose to handle my emotions in my addiction. That is the key of emotional sobriety for me.
We can start you on the road to recovery.