What is Emotional Sobriety?
When I think of emotional sobriety, the first thing that comes to mind is dealing with my feelings. I don’t know about other alcoholics and addicts, but that was definitely something I ran away from for a very long time in my addiction. I wanted to be numb to feeling any type of emotions. I believe that hiding from my emotions was one of the main reasons I used drugs and alcohol. Emotional sobriety is a huge part of my recovery and I think it is important for all women in recovery to understand.
My definition of emotional sobriety is learning how to deal with one’s feelings. Upon entering treatment, the first step I took was to detox and be physically sober. In my opinion, physical sobriety was always the easiest part of getting sober. I could stop using drugs and alcohol, I just couldn’t stay stopped. The reason I couldn’t stay sober was I never wanted to deal with the emotional sobriety part of my recovery. I ran away from my feelings and emotions for so long that finally feeling them was new and unfamiliar to me.
Identifying how I felt was the first part of my emotional sobriety and the hardest. In treatment they even had “How are you feeling today?” charts with funny faces on them to help us identify how we were feeling. Once I was able to identify how I was feeling then came the even harder part: how do I deal with these feelings? I had to learn how to just feel my feelings and then stay sober no matter what I was feeling. For me, going to AA meetings, talking with my sponsor and my supports is what has always helped me get through feeling unpleasant feelings.
What is Emotional Sobriety?
Emotional Sobriety is just being able to be present and in the moment with how I am feeling and why I am feeling that way is a huge part of my recovery today. I am always trying to either live in the past or worry about the future and being in AA today helps me to focus on the present and what I am feeling right now.
I am currently going through a book with my sponsor called A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps by Stephanie S. Covington. In this book after each step there is a self-soothing exercise. It states:
“In the past most of us used the object of our addiction to soothe ourselves. In recovery we need to find new sources of comfort. Because alcohol and drugs tend to numb our feelings, in early recovery we often find ourselves flooded with unfamiliar emotions. These emotions can feel overwhelming, so we need to find ways to handle or soothe these emotions, ways that don’t involve addictive behaviors.”
We all have to find out what works for us to deal with our emotions in sobriety. My self-soothing exercise usually involves taking a bubble bath and just being present in what I am feeling at that moment. Sometimes it is also nice to take a walk, do meditation exercises or just sit quietly with myself. Whatever works for you, the most important thing in emotional sobriety is feeling our feelings and knowing that it is okay to feel them without drinking or drugging!
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