Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

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Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby David A » Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:54 pm

I've been doing 3 meetings a day, getting coffee after the meeting 2-3 times a week, offering rides to other newcomers, calling 2-4 alcoholics a day.

I'm in so much emotional pain from not being able to stop being reminded of how much I hate everything my life has become that the only relief I feel now is from my other old habits that co-occurred with my alcoholism -- starving myself, throwing up my food, stabbing myself. I've lost 6 lbs this week. I am now underweight. I woke up last night with heart palpitations and my stomach was in so much physical pain I actually kind of yelped or yelled unintentionally. No amount of meetings, prayer, meditation, service to others seems to be making much of a dent in things right now. I also spent 15 hours in synagogue this week (Jewish Buddhist here). I also spent time doing service for family members. Nothing is stopping the intense feelings of self-hatred and grief.

I hate myself more than I can describe. It doesn't even totally make sense. I haven't been nice, but I also haven't ever hurt anyone in a permanent way. I keep looking around and the biggest thing I can find is that I have not met my own ethical standards of behavior (upon rereading my post for editing, the previous sentence made me want to mention here that the phrase "egomaniac with an inferiority complex" was bandied about at my morning meeting today...). And I just can't forgive myself for like even one single thing.

I'm also dually diagnosed for whatever that's worth. I have an eating disorder, OCD and BPD and was institutionalized for 2 years. I have a hypersensitive neurology, I've always had really intense emotional reactions to things. Like... really, really intense. So much that I was institutionalized before I was ever an alcoholic. So there's that going on too. And medications don't help -- I was put on some 40 different psych meds over 6-7 years and eventually was told that I have medication-resistant mood dysphoria (reeeeal helpful). The only thing that ever helped was benzos for my anxiety disorder (I have that, too.) But I can never take those. Because I am an addict and an alcoholic as sure as there ever was one. And I see what that does to people like me.

I have a sponsor. I'm being as honest as I can. I am taking every suggestion that has been given to me. And I just can't stop feeling horrible. I feel worse than I've ever felt. It's like being under an open faucet of unpleasant emotions from which I cannot remove myself.

Any thoughts? I am on a wait list for professional eating disorder treatment and have been going to OA and FA meetings as well, but the meetings aren't enough for the ED. I'm too caught. I just don't stop hurting myself with food.

I'm really in pain. Please help. Anything helps.

edit: it occurs to me that I ought to mention that during my last relapse I decided I became so desperate for relief from my eating disorder that I started taking high doses of LSD daily for about 3 weeks, during which time I spent hours doing guided Buddhist meditation and introspection concerning my life. I do not know if this has incurred some damage -- at the time I thought it was helpful, but now it looks more and more like just another crazy, nightmarish relapse. But now it's like I can't stop being aware of my whole life. All the lies I bought into in childhood that have made me treat people in my life like S***. All the misunderstandings borne of my mind's rather banal tendency to grasp onto things and hold them as independent realities unto themselves.

I can't calm my mind. Nothing I do works anymore.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Lali » Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:40 pm

Welcome, sponsorship. My closest experience to what you describe is a young woman I met in rehab about 12 years ago. She had multiple issues similar to what you describe. Have you thought about going to a rehab? You have said you have trouble calming your mind Have you tried prayer? If I feel fear I do a simple exercise. Breathe in while thinking "faith", then breathe out while thinking "fear". Repeat this several times. (Its hard to have fear and faith at the same time). I agree with Karl - who was posting as I edited this post - the 12 steps saved my life.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Karl R » Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:42 pm

Hi there,

I feel for you and am so sorry about your pain.

You indicated "No amount of meetings, prayer, meditation, service to others seems to be making much of a dent in things right now."

What is your experience with the 12 steps? Has your sponsor worked with you through the 12 step program of alcoholics anonymous as presented in our textbook "Alcoholics Anonymous".

That was the answer for me. Along with, of course, a certain amount of therapy in the form of marriage counseling. But the 12 step program as a way of life is where it's at for me.

kindest regards,
Karl
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby PuppyEars » Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:19 pm

Your willingness to make yourself vulnerable by simply sharing what's going on does not go unnoticed. That is a giant leap in the direction of a solution. Keep sharing.
Since you attend many meetings you have heard it read in How it Works about some having grave emotional disorders and they too can recover if they have the capacity to be honest. I see this as more than hope, it's a promise.
To piggyback a little on Karl's comment, I am curious if you have any experience in taking a personal inventory.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby David A » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:00 pm

Thanks for reaching out, Lali, Karl, and PuppyEars. I've been struggling with feeling like I even deserve to be with other people recently, and being addressed so quickly and kindly by multiple people gives me some relief. I'm deeply grateful to read your messages of hope.

I have worked the Steps 1-12 two times and 1-9 a third time, and have strung together 14 months two separate times as well as more 6 and 9 months stints than I can clearly remember (I probably could if I tried, it's not that many...)

I have a sponsor who has 15 years. He has me hitting my knees and praying to God for guidance as per page 86 every morning, as well as doing 10 minutes of meditation daily. In between the prayer and meditation, I am going through the Big Book with a highlighter, and we get together later and read through the book together. I have not started an inventory since this last relapse; I have 8 days today, and have started over from the beginning.

By the way Lali, your suggestion for a mantra is much appreciated. I have started using it already (it's a really good mantra) and will use it in my morning meditation tomorrow. Thank you.

It seems more and more like I need to address my mental illness as a primary issue the same way I have addressed alcoholism as a primary issue in the past. But I'm also more committed to recovery than I ever have been before. I'll do whatever it takes to do what the people who have 25 and 40 years now did to stay sober when they were at the point I was at. That's the best thing I can scrape together at this point, recovery-wise. I don't know if that is really useful, but it's my best guess.

I guess it's just hard to accept that I need to do the whole deal of self-care for 3 or 4 different primary conditions, including alcoholism. It means I kind of have to give up my life for a while (I'm also a professional jazz musician and have been studying chemistry/biology for nursing school, so it's actually been more of a "life" to give up than I really want to. Those things seem pretty valid ways to spend time. And I just have no time left for anything that is personally rewarding if I do all the therapy to address each problem.) Of course, my life has become pretty universally painful to the point that I can't even do the things that are most important to me for the last 6 months. So I guess that's why I'm at this jumping off point now. Gift of desperation. It's funny being equal amounts hurt and grateful...

Thanks for letting me share. Sorry I can't bring it back to a hopeful message yet. I am trying to not wallow in self-pity... but goodness, how I love to wallow in self-pity. haha.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Karl R » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:31 pm

Hi,

Our founder, Bill W, was acquainted with Emotional Pain. He detailed his struggle in a letter which is published in the Grapevine. http://www.aagrapevine.org/node/12038

You can also find it on the internet by googling "The next frontier: emotional sobriety"


The letter was of some help to me. It speaks of our dependencies, etc.

Take what you wish and leave the rest.

kindest regards,
Karl
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Layne » Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:41 pm

Hi sponsorshipQ. Welcome and I am glad that you are here. Your posts help me to think about and to inventory my own journey in recovery and for that I am grateful.

Whenever I start to dive into self pity or self hatred, I bring myself back to the present moment, because those feelings are about the past, not the present. Then, I reflect upon things I am grateful for. Many times, it is simplistic as "I am alive" or "I am not presently involved in destructive behavior" "Do no harm (this includes to myself)"

Whenever I start to dive into fear, I bring myself back to the present moment, because fear is future based. I am alive. I am not participating in destructive behavior. Do no harm.

"Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don't serve them tea." quote from Shunryu Suzuki

I would imagine that you are familiar with this passage from the big book Page 83-84 "We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace." This is just a small portion of the 9th step promises that have come true for this alcoholic, but what a gift! I hope it comes true for you as well.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby David A » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:42 pm

Karl, thanks for turning me onto that! I actually have a copy of The Language Of The Heart and went and grabbed it and bookmarked "The Next Frontier" to read tomorrow during my morning book study practice. It occurs to me now that I should probably read through more of Bill's writings. It's been a while since I've looked at this book. I tend to forget that Bill Wilson also struggled with mood in sobriety.

Layne, thank you so much for sharing this valuable and beautiful practice with me. I have some practices up on my wall, written in an aesthetically pleasing way, that my sponsor asked me to place up there. I am going to add the practice you described to my prayer & meditation corner. It seems like just what I was looking for.

Thank you to everyone who responded and to everyone who read what I had to say. I'm very grateful you all decided to do some service by being here for a fellow alcoholic today. :mrgreen: I plan on sticking around the forums (added it to my bookmark bar just now) and hopefully at some point being able to be helpful to someone here who is hurting as well. What a great place this is in cyberspace.

Edit @ 10:16pm PST: I just finished writing out the suggestions I received for practices from the members in this thread and am gonna go put them up in my prayer space now. If any other members have suggestions they want to contribute they won't go to waste. Thanks again, this is really great stuff.
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby avaneesh912 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 5:46 am

during which time I spent hours doing guided Buddhist meditation and introspection concerning my life.


Even with a clear mind we can't perceive whats our purpose, let alone under the influence. AAs 12 steps simple, clean up first (creating a list of character defects) and then we start working on them and then we get into meditation and service. One of the spiritual masters talks about our mind like an old computer lot of graphics, downloads, viruses.......we have to clean up and then it stats operating in an optimal level but there again if we let the old habits creep in (viruses creep back in)..
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Karl R » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:53 am

I have a sponsor who has 15 years. He has me hitting my knees and praying to God for guidance as per page 86 every morning


One of my sponsors told me he would loan me his higher power for a short period. But that he wanted it back pretty quickly since he needed it. I was expected to develop my own "god as I understood it" by the application of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous as a way of life.

kindest regards,
Karl
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Brock » Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:53 am

I hit my knees just like they said.
I have a sponsor who has 15 years. He has me hitting my knees and praying to God for guidance as per page 86 every morning.

I believe in starting my day with guidance from my higher power as well, sometimes I have forgotten this only to get in the car then come back into the house, my wife didn't understand at first but does now. She just smiles and knows I will be in the little den I have for ten minutes or so, then I will be good to go, I just don't feel right unless I start the day in that way.

Whatever works for you is fine, and some people feel kneeing down is appropriate because they are sort of humbling themselves before the God of their choosing. But I disagree because it is very uncomfortable, and my God certainly wouldn't want me to be uncomfortable while seeking his guidance. On page 86 and also nowhere else in our literature is it recommend we kneel, this 'hitting our knees' is a common expression in AA, but it actually says on page 86 - “We relax and take it easy,” which for me is the opposite of kneeling.
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"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby PaigeB » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:52 am

I hate myself more than I can describe. It doesn't even totally make sense. I haven't been nice, but I also haven't ever hurt anyone in a permanent way. I keep looking around and the biggest thing I can find is that I have not met my own ethical standards of behavior (upon rereading my post for editing, the previous sentence made me want to mention here that the phrase "egomaniac with an inferiority complex" was bandied about at my morning meeting today...). And I just can't forgive myself for like even one single thing.

You have been hurting someone - yourself.
You appear to have a resentment - against yourself.

I have recently gone through a sad part in my journey and I found myself doing a lot of negative self talk. I have heard that "The mind can only hold one thought at a time, so make it a good one!" Sounds like it is time to REJECT that negative self-talk that you appear to know is not based in FACT (see pg 559 BB). I have found that I can't just reject that kind of thinking, I have to REPLACE that kind of thinking with better thinking or good thinking. So I meditate on one word... LOVE. I say short prayers like "Save me from being angry". I read the last couple pages of the stories in the back of the BB (cause that's where the good news is). I started attending a STEP STUDY group and I volunteer to be of service to my HP every morning then wait for opportunities.

Changing the defective habit of negative self talk is as easy as changing your mind! Focus on the growth you have made and not the defects you have. I found reading the Appendix on Spiritual Experience very uplifting!

It also sounds like you need a doctor. Maybe to reevaluate your meds or do a med-wash IF a doc advises it & monitors it. No one here, including me, can advise you about mental health or other conditions that may affect sobriety.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Duke » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:35 pm

I fit into the category of "there are those too, who suffer from grave emotional… disorders”. I still remember sitting in a meeting some time into the program and more or less demanding that someone tell me when I would, just once, wake up feeling good. I had (and still have) a whole panoply of negative emotional responses to life that regularly attack my mind.

The difference today is that I no longer fear or fight them. I just accept them as part of my emotional/psychological makeup that I neither created nor want. They're sort of like really small yapping dogs today. Annoying, but hardly disabling or frightening.

You are worthy of a loving experience of life no matter what you learned to the contrary. Those damaged parts of your subconscious that would tell you otherwise are just wrong.

Some things that I did to diminish the impact of these negative emotional responses to life was first, commit to working a tenth step on them whenever and wherever they crop up. Yes, it means pausing and running through a tenth step quite often sometimes, but it works whenever I do it.

I also made myself tapes of positive thoughts and images that I listened to every night when I went to bed for years. Pausing to meditate during the day on positive thoughts also helps. To that end, I used to sit down every morning and write out a positive affirmation I would carry with me throughout the day. When the bad dogs started to howl, I'd take it out and reflect on it for a bit.

Of course finding and committing to regular service commitments is very helpful as well. I found that if I have them on the calendar, I do them regardless of how I feel in the moment and I always feel better as a result.

My sponsor told me that I should think of all the negativity inside me as a bucket of dirty water that I couldn't simply pour out. The only way I could replace it was with a steady drip of clean water. Over time, the bucket gets cleaner, but it takes patience.

Good luck to you. I know it will get better for you if you keep at it. I'm proof of that.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa
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Re: Dealing With Emotional Pain in Early Sobriety

Postby Db1105 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:33 am

My sponsor suggested that I get some type of physical activity to help deal with my overactive mind when nothing else seemed to work. For me it was basketball, hitting a golf ball at the driving range, and working out at a gym. Even years later I find it helpful but now it's mostly hiking or just a plain old walk to give my mind a break.
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