I’m glad to be home.
It was a good Thanksgiving weekend, but a bit emotionally draining.
I’m not even sure what it is for sure – but it’s really hard to be around my parents and live in recovery.
As I’ve studied and read about the Addiction Recovery Relationship, I’d say the hardest part about being around them is the “A” in that equation: the “debilitating negative emotions.”
Since there are lots of them, I thought I’d write down as many as I can recognize and then think and pray about them.
- Embarrassment, especially when we’re in public places together and I feel like Mom has to show me and my family off to people
- Frustration: I get frustrated with how my parents are to each other, to me, to Becky, and even to my kids. This is the “rescuer” mentality and it isn’t helpful. I also get frustrated when Mom tells us her opinion or wants us to do something in the form of a question.
- Isolation: I feel this quite a bit there: both me wanting to isolate and my dad especially isolating into his den to watch his own show or going to the bathroom to take a bath. To me, this is addiction or his way of coping.
- No emotional connection at all: if I think back, I don’t recall ever having a very deep emotional connection with my parents. When and if we talk, it’s about shallow things: people, events, schedule, etc. But never about feelings, emotions, or perspective. This is hurtful and causes me to feel both anger and sadness for why this never happened in our home.
- No talking about much of anything that has feeling
- Lack of awareness of other people’s feelings or needs
- “Must be seen as” mentality
- Worrying too much about other people’s problems
- A ton of stuff saved for no reason
- No accountability
- No good enough
These are a few feelings and situations that come to mind.
What’s my part in these?
How can I handle these situations in a positive way?
I looked up a few articles about dealing with negative emotions that gave me some perspective.
- How to Handle Negative Emotions
- Recognize and name the emotion
- Notice how the emotion is affecting your behavior
- Tell yourself the emotion won’t last forever
- Figure out what is causing the emotion
- Accept the emotion
- Remind yourself that the emotion will pass
- Snap back into the present moment
- Learn from the emotion
- 9 Ways to Overcome Negative Emotions
- Recognize the power of emotions
- Emotions don’t always represent truth
- Avoid toxic people
- Ask for support:
Maybe you’re in a difficult situation where someone close to you is also someone who is a negative influence in your life. If that’s the case, you could try saying to this person, “I want to make a change in my life, and I need your support. You’re very important to me and I care about you deeply. But if you’re not able to support me, I think we need to limit our interactions.”
- Use words as a tool to feel better
- Be aware of your underlying message
- Wait two seconds before responding:It’s amazing how big of a difference two seconds makes when we’re upset. Every time we respond immediately—and instinctively—to an unkind remark, our words reek of spite and malice.
If, on the other hand, we intentionally wait for at least two seconds before replying, it’s far more likely that we’ll respond in a measured way that will help the situation.
- Take care of physical needs
- Ask, “What’s one thing I can do right now?”
- Handling Negative Emotions
- I really liked this story and feel it really pertains to me:
The story of Michael (the addict not in recovery):
Michael comes home from work, eats dinner with the family and then sits down to watch TV. He growls at Hannah, 8 years old, when she stands in front of the TV while trying to tell him something. He later gets frustrated when his satellite stops working and the TV goes blank. He bangs on the TV set, throws the remote on the floor and stomps off to bed.
The next day, Michael observes Hannah becoming upset because she can’t find a piece to her favorite puzzle. After looking briefly, she gives up and throws the remaining pieces onto the floor. Michael scolds her for “giving up too fast” and for having a “bad temper.”
The story of John (the addict in recovery):
John comes home from work, eats dinner with the family and sits down to watch TV. When his daughter, 8-year-old Sarah, asks him a question during the climax of his favorite show, he asks her to wait until the commercial. During the commercial he patiently answers Sarah’s question.
When John’s satellite goes on the blink, he becomes frustrated and mutters aloud, “I get so mad at this thing. It never works. Let’s see if I can fix it.” He continues to narrate each move he makes while fixing the satellite, unaware that Sarah is listening.
The next day he witnesses Sarah trying to put a puzzle together. He notices that she is quietly talking herself through finding the right pieces, saying, “I can’t find where this piece goes. I’m so mad. Let’s try the next one.”
Like John, make sure you manage your emotions in a way you’d like to see repeated by your child.
This is exactly how it works with Caleb and I, and at times I’m blind to it. The only way I can really teach Caleb to be patient and loving and kind to others is to be that way to him first.
After a little overreaction tonight, I had Caleb come into my office and I apologized for the way I treated him today (short-tempered, impatient, and angry).
Right now, I think I’m going to take a quick nap – this may be part of my problem…
I meant to rest, but, before I did, I read more of the ebook “Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship.”
This was one thing that stuck out today:
While you don’t have control over how other people around you behave, you do have control over how you respond to them and your circumstances.
How does this apply to my issues right now?
I don’t have control over how my parents behave, but I do have control over how I respond to them and my circumstances.
Problem is, I’m just not really sure where to even start besides completely isolating myself from them, and I don’t think that’s the right answer – yet.
I like this too:
You can choose whether to let the resentment continue to seethe inside you, or whether you will do something to get it out of you so you can deal with it. You need to understand that resentment is one of the biggest poisons that trigger addicts to act out, whether with alcohol, cocaine or porn.
I had that epiphany the other night too, as I was talking with Becky about my feelings, all the U’s I was feeling while being home.
I talked about how children never feel resentment. Sure, they can be frustrated or angry or sad, but they don’t let those feelings “seethe inside.” Instead, they forgive, forget, and move on.
How can this be me?
How can I become as a little child?
What a great scripture this is:
“And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:23).
If I’m entertaining the idea of lust, I can’t have the Spirit. And if I don’t have the Spirit, I can’t be guided and directed to do the right things for the right reasons.
This is something that has come to mind as I read the words of one of my sponsees at times: he talks about his spiritual experiences and how the Spirit is guiding him. This may be true, but, as the scripture above states clearly, if he (or I) am looking upon a woman to lust after her, we are denying the faith, and can’t have the Spirit.
…the Lord later says that if Melchizedek Priesthood holders look “on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16)
When I read this quote, I immediately thought of the talk by Elder Oaks about pornography:
The big surprise is that there are only two groups! There are those with no pornography problem and those with a big pornography problem. There is no middle group! One of the themes throughout my essays is that there is no such thing as a “little problem” when it comes to sex and pornography addiction.
I will get to his talk later.
I love this quote too and could write an essay on the topic myself:
The general consensus based on our collective experiences is this: In order to get sober and into recovery, one must first hit rock bottom. Those who have hit bottom become willing to do whatever it takes to get sober. They are willing to do the hard things. Those who have not hit rock bottom, however, are not willing to do whatever it takes. They still believe they have things “under control.” They are not ready to turn it over to God because they are still convinced they can do this on their own. They are not ready to surrender. They do not believe they are powerless.
I’m on the phone now with Sean and just texted Peter about being a sponsor; he said he’d be interested and is going to be calling me in about 30 minutes after his meeting.
Sean met a guy at meeting tonight that is looking for a sponsor. May be perfect timing for him…
This study was a great one. I’m grateful to feel like I’m back and like I want to surrender.