During my conversations with clients over the years, a common refrain keeps happening. If we bottle our feelings, we reach for a bottle. By which we mean that when we stuff, ignore, or hide from our emotions it prompts us to drink, use substances or engage in our compulsive behaviors of choice. But as someone I worked with several years ago said, "My feelings won't kill me, but using heroin might."
So why do we hide form our feelings?
We aren't sure if they are normal. They frighten us. We were raised to ignore or dismiss them, often by our parents, guardians, teachers or peers treating us in such a fashion where our feelings didn't matter. This doesn't mean we should decide everything based on feelings, that would be an error towards an opposite extreme. Feelings are like the check engine light, they tell us something is going on under the hood. If you value going to the doctor for regular physicals then checking in with our feelings regularly serves the same purpose psychologically.
Ultimately, few things that bother us simply get better on their own. Feelings and emotions can be learned from and, when we do, we find that we don't need our alcohol, drugs or behaviors nearly as much anymore. Those things are often duct tape to keep the car together; they work, but only for a while. Eventually we need more tape and eventually there may not be enough or we may use too much.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is sit with our feelings for just five minutes. Sometimes crying is the only thing that holds us back from a drink or a drug. That's ok. I daresay it can even be very healthy.
I help people who struggle with drinking or using drugs find a life worth living. Helping people thrive in Milford, Franklin, Medway, Uxbridge, Bellingham, Mendon, Whitinsville and surrounding towns.