Choices Today (part 1)
by Jennifer Hardy, CMPS, Peer Support Coordinator
Today I have choices in almost every moment. What a foreign concept this was to me when I was stuck in active addiction. For much of each day, I was in a mode of reaction: reacting to my feelings in any given moment and feeling helpless against the way other people treated me. My thoughts often followed along the the lines of, "well, 'someone' did this to me or said that to me or looked this way at me & that's why I'm this pissed-off, angry mess no one wants to be around" or "that's why I'm so depressed I'm not doing anything but laying here" or "that's why I'm drinking" or "that's why I'm going crazy. It's their fault!" At the end of these emotion-fueled binges, I would be left feeling worse than before, often times with consequences that were piled up and becoming more and more difficult to overcome. I was only hurting myself and my loved ones. I understand today that I do not owe anyone that kind of power over my life. I can love and be loved and interact with people in the world without allowing my emotions to determine my day. I can feel my emotions and stop and think about why I may be experiencing them and what I can do to change the situation, without being overrun by them and reacting in an extreme way.
Managing emotions is one of the most essential tools I have had to use in recovery. It is definitely an ongoing challenge, but today, when someone says something that hurts my feelings, I have a choice to make. I can decide to take their words personally and believe them as my own truth, feeling down on myself, losing my energy for the day and obsessing over their words in my mind to the point that I am not effective at anything else I do. I can carry the hurt and anger in such a way that I spread the poison to everyone else around me, by being closed off and feeling sorry for myself, by snapping, by being basically unavailable. Or, instead, I can decide to hear what was said to me and pause. I can think about the motivation or emotion behind what was said. I can choose to understand this person as a flawed individual who makes mistakes and acts on emotions sometimes, just like me, saying things they may not even mean. I can choose to hear what they have said and evaluate their statement. Just because a person says something, does not mean I have to believe it to be true or let it have the kind of power to overwhelm me. I can choose to see their pain and I can choose to tell myself the truth. I can choose to walk away and take some time to process the hurt. I can call a trusted friend or my sponsor and talk it out in a rational way. I can decide if, and when, I want to address the issue with the person that I felt hurt by or if I want to just let it go, but I definitely do not have to allow someone's hurtful words to consume my day, drive me to drink, or drive me to, in turn, act in a hurtful way to those around me. Today, my program and my Higher Power help me to have peace in all circumstances.
"ALL YOUR LIFE YOU WILL BE FACED WITH A CHOICE. YOU CAN CHOOSE LOVE OR HATE...I CHOOSE LOVE." ~ Johnny Cash
With much love,
Recommended Reading: Discovering Choices, an Al-Anon Family Groups Book