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.

 

 

My American Heart

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Like so many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on in our country right now. I’m sad, I’m angry and at times I feel very helpless and hopeless. I worry about what kind of ramifications all of our current problems will have on my children as they grow up and reach adulthood. I see a divide that continues to grow larger and larger between our political parties and those who were elected by and for the people. I see families and friendships being torn a part by opposing political views; each pointing their finger at the other. I see hatred being spewed across social media and people “defriending” each other on Facebook because of what one person supports and what the other doesn’t.

What I fail to see is the common American heart that exists in all of us and the common love we have for our country. The very fact that I can sit here and write this is an AMAZING freedom – one that is denied to many in other parts of the world. The fact that I can sit in my RCIA class at our church on Thursday evenings and talk about God, Jesus and Catholicism would be cause for death in many countries. As a woman, I can wear what I want to wear, say what I want to say and go where I want to go, which is simply unheard of in other countries.

My point isn’t to remind you of all the privileges and freedoms we have as Americans, my point is to ask “What happened? And, how did we get here?” How did we become so divided and so angry at each other? When did the “American Dream” become a bad thing? When did patriotism become something to be ashamed of? Do I agree with everything that happens in this country? No. Is life always fair? No. But,  I do believe that no matter where you are born in this country, who you are born to, what kind of conditions you are born into, everyone and I mean EVERYONE has the freedom and opportunity to achieve a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in their lives.

I can’t help but make the comparison to my program of recovery. When we walk into the rooms of a recovery meeting, we see people of all colors, races and backgrounds. Some were born with a lot, some were born with nothing. Some have supportive families and friends, some have no one. But, we are all there for the same purpose and we are all freely given the same tools to help us recover and achieve sobriety. Some rush out of gate, determined and destined to achieve sobriety on the first try; some take it slower and steadily do the work, eventually achieving their goal; others try and fail over and over again until they finally “get” it; and then, sadly, there are those who never make it despite all the tools and support they are given.

What our leaders (if you can even call them that) fail to remember, is that most of us in our little towns and big cities are just trying to do our best to achieve that “American Dream.” From a small age, we’ve tried to do everything the “right” way. We’ve gone to school, got a job, worked hard, supported our family, loved our children – yet, we are left wondering “Does any of it really matter?”

Yes, it matters! Because, despite the hopelessness I sometimes feel, I am teaching my children that, while not perfect, they live in a beautiful and strong country that will provide them with all the necessary tools to thrive and be successful, caring and empathetic human beings.

Nothing and no one can take that hope away from me.

The Better Mom