So simple. So hard. Not a lot to do and so easy to forget. The adrenaline intoxication wipes out the plan to keep it simple, maintain my boundaries, avoid that behavior, stop acting that way. I become wrapped up in the sensations of overwhelm and forget to pause. Really, I mean to use the pause, use the breath take a moment, consult my friend, my sponsor, my higher power, but I am already rushing down the path of self destruction.
This mini-path of self destruction, or self forgetting, may not be a full relapse but unchecked it could lead to relapse. This tsunami of emotion may not wipe out weeks of devoted practice of living a sober life, but it can feel like a big detour. How to stop this train of false elation- these feelings that exalt those actions and attributes I am trying so hard to unlearn, retrain, replace?
The good news is that I see it. I am uncomfortable fanning the flames of anger, stoking the self righteousness that accompanies resentment, the loss of self and self esteem that arises from self pity and victimhood. While the whole nervous system is on high alert and negative party time, my wiser brain, my heart, knows this is not healthy and does not support the real “me”. I want to settle down and regain my ability to put one foot in front of the other.
I may slip, backslide, or veer off the path but my inner being bring me to the awareness that this is not who I want to be any more. The behavior doesn’t suit me, the consequences are too egregious for this new person I have become. I finally do remember, and I pause, and I breathe. I pause and I contemplate. Am I able to reach out? What tools can I use. How can I drop this rock, let go of the boulder that seemed so light in the passion of rage (or resentment, or hurt feelings) and is now weighing in at 17 tons? I am too well to be this sick anymore!
The battle between old behaviour and new. A few weeks ago I got some frustrating news. This was not illness, death, or life altering; this was frustrating. But my ego was involved, my convenience was involved, my attachment to outcome was involved, my money was involved. Oh, and did I mention my ego? I was disappointed and inconvenienced. I became enraged. My heart beat fast, my body burst into sweat- I could feel it popping out of my pores. My mouth became dry, my vision was a little swimmy, and my ability to moderate my voice had disappeared. Usually I have enough forebrain activity to know that most people I interact with on the phone are merely reading from a script, or reciting rules and regulations over which they have no control. In my rage this did not matter. The person on the other end of the line got the full force of my triple scorpio, pre-recovery acting out. You want to play? The game was on.
Until a brief moment when my rational mind peeked out and held up a mirror. OH NO! I do not want to be this yelling, sweaty, angry woman! This is not the real me- the one I have tried so hard to remember, to go back to, to the person with compassion and understanding. But I couldn’t go back to her. My body was still intoxicated with self righteousness, (Did I mention they were in the wrong and had totally messed up my plans, my LIFE?) But I also know I had to change the story right now. I had to stop the madness. So I asked: Do I have to make a decision right now? Do I have options in a few days? Can I get my money back after I think about this? How long do I have to decide? My logical brain peeked out just enough to let me back off and consider and try again. “Yes”, I could call back after I had checked out my options.
I breathed. I talked with my husband, a friend, my sponsor. I sat in meditation to help ground my thoughts and feelings. I practiced a little yoga. I did some research. I breathed. And a few days later I was able to reform my plans, make decisions and move in another direction. One foot in front of the other I was able to fix the situation, to take care of business with a more competent and composed attitude.
So – when I fall into a fit of adrenaline fueled action it lasts less long, I can spot it sooner, I can catch my breath and then breathe so my nervous system can repair. I can pause and talk and listen to others. I can then put one foot in front of the other to more pleasantly resolve the situation. I avoid cutting off my nose to spite my face in rage, calling people names (which I luckily had avoided on the call) due to my self righteousness, let the situation go without resentment, and by doing so with attention and a modicum of grace, I can hold on to my dignity and not be a victim to the situation OR to my bad behavior.