The Ocean Within

It’s early days – I’ve been alcohol free for 53 days and I feel really proud of myself for giving myself this space and time for recovery.  Because I know this isn’t recovery from just drinking, but from all the things I was trying to fix, avoid, deny…etc…with drinking.

Taking alcohol out of the situation has been a huge relief.

I’ve always known that my soul floats on top of an ocean of emotion. My mother used to tell me when I was a child that I was “too sensitive” on the many occasions I’d burst into tears at the smallest slights or criticisms. Later, when a few shocking traumas occurred, I felt it was safer to send the more difficult memories and emotions to the deep. I learned over the years to keep the surface very calm.

I am not a forgetter, though. My husband tells me that I have a “delayed reaction” to things that upset me. When he did or said something that hurt or riled me up, I’d tell him hours, or days after the event. I think this is part survival mechanism and part fear driven. I am a survivor – I am great in emergencies. It seems like time slows down, I feel detached from my feelings in the moment, and I am able to dispassionately handle scary situations. I am also very fearful of many things, including other people’s reactions to my experiences or feelings, so I hide those things about myself.

One way to keep all these feelings down is, you guessed it!, BOOZE. But while keeping it all down, alcohol also muddies the waters. And the more booze and sadness I was stuffing in this ocean of emotion, the more it was feeling like a polluted ecosystem. Are you annoyed by this ocean metaphor? It helps me to think of myself and my feelings in non-human terms. I am critical and judgmental of people (myself included) and society, but not of nature or animals, it seems.

So, now that I’ve had a stretch of sobriety. I keep myself motivated by listening to the stories of others through podcasts and reading blogs and memoirs. I am trying to let go of my preconceived notions of recovery, addiction, feelings, people in general. I am reading Melody Beattie’s Twelve Steps for Codependents. Codependency is another unhappy storyline in my life and family. Letting go of my judgments about alcoholism, codependency, recovery and The Twelve Step process feels empowering.

Reading and listening to these ideas and stories has also caused many a memory and feeling to bubble up from the deep. These bubbles tend to be unsettling and vivid, but I feel like I am finally in a place personally to look into the bubble, consider it, feel it, and hopefully it will naturally pop and become an indistinct part of the ocean again. I’ve found myself unexpectedly crying in savasana or when a I hear a song that connects me back to intense times in my past. As I said, I’ve been quick to cry my whole life but something feels different now. I’m being kinder to myself about my weepy moments and even feeling hopeful that things are changing in my heart.



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