Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Don't Relapse, Get Back in Touch with Yourself

Gene used to be mystified by his lapses. But he's been in recovery for almost a year now, and he's developed some fairly reliable ways to avoid trouble even when he's triggered. 

"I journal every day. It's the most helpful thing I've done in my recovery. I take walks most days, too."

Instead of letting feelings fester, Gene tries to get them out by writing them down. Or as he walks he will think aloud or pray aloud.

"When I'm tempted, I go write in my journal about what I'm feeling and why. I write about [the current status of] my self-esteem and what's effecting it. I write out my emotions and what's triggering them." 

It's not simply that Gene takes feelings he's aware of and puts them on paper. It's that the process of trying to put things on paper gets him back in touch with what's going on inside. 

"It usually turns out that I've been dwelling on things without realizing it. Feelings have been stewing. Like my reactions to strong opinions my in-laws have. We live near them so there are a lot of interactions. I feel judged by them sometimes, even though logically I know that's not the case."

Stuff starts to eat at Gene and it could keep building, unchecked if he didn't journal. By journaling he puts it into words and out in the open for him to look at more objectively. Rather than continuing to build up, the feelings seem to ease and sometimes even resolve.

"I make such an effort to be methodical, when people seem to be questioning what I do I, I get annoyed. My mother-in-law asked Carly, "How do you stand all of Gene's papers and books laying around in the front room like that?" I shrugged it off at the time but later when I wrote in my journal I realized that part of me wanted to say, "I'm working here! We tried the basement but it felt like a dungeon and I got too depressed! So this is my home office now! It's how I make a living to feed your daughter and grandchildren! Back off!"

Once I write it out then I can address it with Carly or blow it off and move on. Or I can go take a walk to let out the energy.

On his walks, too, Gene is often getting his feelings out--or perhaps more accurately, getting back in touch with himself, including his feelings. "Once I'm out in nature, especially walking by the canal, there's more clarity. I start praying. I can have a conversation with God. I feel closer to Him out under the sky by myself. If I've been feeling off, I can ground myself again by being out in nature. I step back from all the urgencies and don't feel so cooped up. I have to do it to keep my sanity."


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