Emotional Sobriety – what does that mean to you?

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March 7, 2019

Emotional Sobriety – what does that mean to you?

I’ve been in recovery for almost 15 years and I follow a 12-step program.  That was the option given to me back then as I needed to get a court card signed for my second DUI.  12 step is all I know.  Today there are so many other avenues to get clean and sober; She Recovers, Hip Sobriety school, Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery, and other online recovery methods.  It’s amazing to me that sobriety is now the new Black – the hip and accepted way to live.  (I think there is actually a book called Sobriety is the new Black) The stigma is slowly going away because more people are recovering out loud, including Hollywood – which can only help anyone struggling with addiction.

Last weekend I attended the International Women’s Conference in Los Angeles.  It’s not sponsored by AA, but it’s all women in 12-step who attend.  I’m sure some aren’t in 12-step attend also.  The forum topics and workshop speakers all referred to steps, traditions, and popular 12-step topics; Pause when Agitated, Restraint of Pen and Tongue, etc. Each night at the main speaker meeting the topic of  Tradition 11 … maintain personal anonymity at the level of radio, press, and film, was brought up.  There is a whole new demographic that is getting sober today – the social medial crew, and that’s the group they were most likely referring to.  However, as I’m not a millennial, I do have a different take on that, especially if I want to recover out loud and help end the stigma that there is any shame in getting sober.  I feel that since I’m not saying “AA” vs 12-step I’m keeping it as close to Tradition 11 as I can.  If you don’t agree, well its a pesonal choice.  And you don’t need to email me and pontificate on Tradition 11 to me, I’ve heard it already.  Overall the event was very organized, coordinated and well planned.  They even had amazing entertainment and talent each evening.  I was truly glad I attended.  So here is my rant, each time I go to a weekend with an all female gathering, I get a little wary.  I just assume these events will annoy the crap outta me as I’m not a touchy feeling mushy huggie kind of person.  Albeit I’ve been to a lot of them through the years and I keep coming back! And there you have it.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember that I enjoy these weekends and I need to stop being so negative?  This thought process brings me to my old alcoholic thinking that just goes ‘round and ‘round playing in my head and thinking that I won’t like something that is good for me.  I’ve been sober for a while now and it’s almost daily that the itty bitty shitty committee is churning and burning in my head.  You know, the thought that always goes to the negative first.  It can take a day or so until I can reel that in and move on towards the solution.  The past couple of years I’ve really been moving into and embracing the emotional sobriety piece, which I really hadn’t spent much time in. It seemed to be too much work.  Along the same lines of working on Steps 6 & 7 and reading “Drop the Rock”.  Yup, too much work and healing for me!  I’ve been reading a book recently about Emotional Sobriety, “12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs are Gone” by Allen Berger, PhD – who also wrote numerous other books that align with 12-step recovery.  This book (recommended by a former sponsor – clearly she knew I needed it) has vastly helped me to understand what is required to have balanced emotional sobriety.  It’s not about the drink any more, it’s about my thinking and my place in the world.

What I’ve been able to glean from this book, is that I can’t take anything personally, I need to embrace relationship tensions as they are the fuel for personal growth, and that I need to stop pressuring others to change and instead pressure myself to change.  There are many other “smart things” in his book, but those three really resonated for me. It feels a little like Al-Anon, but a tad more advanced.  I’ve been making strides each day in furthering my emotional sobriety by truly learning to love who I’ve become and have the balance I need to nourish my soul.  No drama.  I’m not immediately reacting vs. pausing when agitated.  Some days it fucking sucks, (given certain life circumstances), and I revert back to my newcomer behaviors. Other days I find myself skipping right through it and giddy about how healthy I am now!  For me, it’s about having perspective on life circumstances and my relationships while being balanced in a way where I have minimal drama in my life.  It’s about showing up with my higher power and not trying to control the outcomes in situations.  This is greatly different than my emotional state in my early recovery where I didn’t understand what co-dependency or toxic relationships looked like.  I didn’t know that taking others hostage was a bad thing? Who wouldn’t want to be with me 24/7? It takes a long time to grow up in recovery, but as long as I have the tools today – I know I’m going to be ok, no matter what.  No matter death, divorce, getting fired, becoming sick – whatever it may be.  Luckily I’ve only had to deal with one of those in sobriety, as both of my parents have passed and I was able to navigate those losses sober and with a clear mind.

So as much as I started writing this piece about the IWC Convention and Tradition 11, it turned into a more therapeutic post of Emotional Sobriety and how important that is to me and my sobriety.  Today I don’t have to listen to my first thought, it’s my second thought and what I do with it.


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