As an addict in early recovery I never quite got the idea of emotions. I’d been living in my head for so long – bending my thinking to support my addictions and fears – that I’d managed to stifle my feelings so that I didn’t have to be concerned about them (I thought). In fact, I probably couldn’t have identified more than one or two if I’d had to, and would most likely have denied having those. I thought love was when I was feeling good about a relationship. Anger was beneath me — the cool intellectual. I just didn’t have time for that other psychological fol-de-rol. It was okay for all you “still-suffering addicts,” but hey — I was in recovery!.
I carried that denial with me for a long time. I was unable to identify many of the issues in the people I tried to help, because I didn’t understand them in myself. As a result, I was far less effective than I probably could have been, and far more importantly it allowed me to completely ignore some critical, basic issues for a long time – like 24 years. If you can’t identify your feelings, you don’t have to worry about where they’re coming from. Until you do.
After a good chunk of therapy and work in and outside of treatment, I’ve gotten a little bit better about not only identifying feelings, but also understanding how they affected my life for nearly seven decades. Actually, that’s a misstatement. They affect my life today, all the time. They affect yours, too, whether you think so or not, so I thought I’d share a bit about what I’ve learned in the hope that someone might find it useful. If you already know about this stuff, fine. If I’d known more about it oh, say, 20-odd years ago, I’d be a much more sober guy today. If you don’t, I’d suggest giving it some…
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