When We Feel Too Much

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so much. I was reminded by my sponsor (again) today that I’m sensitive, emotional and all-too feeling at times. I’m sure there’s a million jokes that could be made about women and emotions, but in all seriousness, it can be devastating for someone like me; an alcoholic who used to drink to escape feeling.

I envy people like my husband who can be sad and empathize with what others are going through without taking on their feelings. Instead, I dive head first and take on their sadness, grief and heartache as if it were my own until it’s no longer about them, but about me (did I mention I can be really self-centered too?). Then, I slowly get sucked into this all-consuming depressive state of mind where everything is wrong and nothing is right in the world. My relationships and my spiritual life suffer. I find myself feeling angry, alone and isolated – the perfect storm for a relapse.

Even though I’ve been sober for a while now, it’s times like these when I know I can’t do this alone. I have to grab onto that life-preserver we call recovery if I’m going to pull myself out of it. Whether it’s going to meetings or meeting individually with my sponsor, I must be reminded on a regular basis that I AM AN ALCOHOLIC and what might seem laughable to some, is no joke for me. Because, that feeling, sensitive and emotional side of me that gets out of control at times could lead me to my death. Is that extreme? Maybe. Real? Absolutely.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as my sponsor looking at me and saying, “Chenoa, you need to put up some boundaries between other people’s feelings and your own.” Just because someone else is experiencing grief, sadness or pain doesn’t mean I have to take on their feelings as my own. I can feel bad for them and reach out to them, but I can’t, under any circumstances, let their experiences define my mood or behavior.

On this Ash Wednesday, I’m feeling renewed; stronger than I was yesterday or even this morning. As I go forward in this Lenten season, I want to focus less on myself and more on my spiritual condition and my relationship with God. I want to step out of myself and what I want for my life, and focus more on what God wants for me. How can I be the best version of myself? And, how can I better serve those around me?

I am reminded, yet again, that this is all part of the journey, and I find peace in trusting that God knows what He is doing and where He is leading me.



5 responses

  1. I get this. I think your sponsor is right with this – I think that empathizing can be healthy for both parties, but going past that and actually strapping their cross onto your poor back is unhealhty…for both parties. Especially you. I had to learn this early on, as I was taking on, or at least getting caught up in, the drama from the guys in my treatment program who were relapsing around me. I had angry wives texting and calling me (don’t know why) and I had so much drama about me that it set me in a tailspin. With my sponsor;s help I had to detach with love and understand their place, but not cross the street to be there. I stay in my place of serenity, and while I can be empathetic, I can’t take on what isn’t mine…or I end up being the way you described.

    Thanks for the reminder and for opening up 🙂


    • Hey Paul! Yep, I was nodding my head up and down reading your comments. So true and something I REALLY need to remember. Like you said, I think it takes time and practice. Nice to hear from you. Hope you’re doing well my friend!

  2. Hi Friend Chenoa!

    In Meyers-Briggs personality tests I come out an F – feeling. My ability to feel has made me a doormat, a dumping station, a boundary-less person – but thankfully we can understand this about ourselves, protect it from exploitation and hone it for those we love and the tasks that are ours!

    I’m about to finish reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkurest (sp?) – it’s been a solid read. The chapters are further divided, so you can actually read it like a daily devotional. I’m adding it to my arsenal of choosing well and giving my emotions rein only where I see my Father leading.

    Thanks for sharing, Chenoa.
    Emily Grace

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