for me drinking alcohol, as I expect is the case for many drinkers, was a way of containing and corralling my feelings. the indiscriminate weedkiller of emotions, destroying pernicious and precious alike. pour out, then check out. are we numb yet?
so when we get sober our emotions can be overwhelming, like sitting in a car with the alarm going off. what do you mean, I can’t get out? how can I possibly learn to live with this noise inside me all the time?
and the noise doesn’t subside. but it is the roar of life. of being. we all get to stand next to the marvel of Niagara Falls, every day. how wonderful is that?
so we learn to live beside the beautiful, brutal roar. and by doing so, by acknowledging and accepting it, we can over time transform it into still waters. a source of refreshment and calm, nourishment and joy. the sunlight sparkles on the ripples over the smooth stones at the edge of the water. we can see the beauty and cherish it. we are truly present in our own lives.
but then there will come times when the skies turn to a bruise and the winds howl and the waters are lashed by rain. the torrent swells angrily again and our little boats flail desperately on their mooring ropes. and we become small and scared once more. how do we deal with a tsunami of emotion?
the title of this post is taken from a blog post by Christie Inge. She writes about finding peace with food (I’ve linked previously on FFF’s blog to another great post of Christie’s about getting off the diet roller coaster) so her post talks about comforting ourselves without food, but everything in it relates equally well to comforting ourselves without alcohol. She says:
‘Safety is our most foundational need. When we perceive that our need for safety is threatened or unmet, we automatically go into fight, flight, or freeze (aka overeating, comfort eating, etc). The problem is that there is rarely an actual threat, like, say, a tiger. For most who comfort eat, what is “threatening” them is actually the feeling of an emotion.
The truth is though, that your emotions aren’t actually a threat. They are the most powerful tool you have for creating a life that feels fulfilling to you.
True comfort comes from knowing that you can be “safe” even when you are feeling out of control, overwhelmed, angry, afraid, or anything else and empowering yourself with tools for doing so. The only thing you actually need to do with your feelings is feel them. But, if you have been avoiding your emotions for most of your life, jumping into that practice will take time. You will want to begin by cultivating trust in yourself and in your ability to handle your emotions and whatever is happening in the present moment.’
She goes on to list seven strategies to help us draw ourselves back to the present moment. to stop ourselves being swamped by those waves of emotion, and to float calmly where we are. such as being in nature, or paying attention to the breath, or going outside barefoot. my favourite of those strategies is to notice the things around us.
what can I hear right now? a bee buzzing in the corner of the window frame. what surfaces am I touching? the wood of the table and the chair I sit upon. the hard cold floor beneath my bare feet. the cotton of my shirt.
oh look: here I am. right here.
wishing you a joyful and present day, dear blogging friends!