THERAPY VS PROGRAM?
“I WON’T CO-SIGN YOUR BULLSHIT!”
One of the first steps of true healing is expressing our deepest fears and hurts. We should have at least one person who won’t shut us down. Someone we can tell anything. But first we have to become courageous enough to let our heart be heard.
“I won’t co-sign your bullshit!” scream the 12 step sponsors to the detriment of their heartsick fellows! When and how is it okay to let out our hurt while attending Alcoholics Anonymous? Sponsors tend to shut down our pain when it’s bubbling up in us and ready to explode. That is not healthy. Teaching mere distractions from our core issues is dangerous. At some point in our program we need to get to our core reasons for drinking and drugging. Meditation and prayer will help that. And working the steps first is fine. As long as we find an empathic friend or therapist who we can tell anything to. “What happened and how it made me feel” is the magic guide to what we need to express from our heart. This is what we need to let out. And believe me our feelings DO NOT HAVE TO BE LOGICAL. We should not invalidate our feelings just because they don’t make sense to our mind’s eye. There is a great need in AA to understand the difference between co-signing bull shit and showing Love by exerting understanding, compassion, and care.
Part of our step 5 should be “what happened and how it made me feel” regarding our most intense memories and feeings in our past.
There is a great need to understand the difference between self-pity and the expression of valid feelings such as anger, and hurt.
Human feelings that result from an abusive past need expressed for us to stay or get sane.
The words, “I know how you feel, you have a right to feel your pain, even if, the feelings derive from years prior” are words that can heal a heart. Most addicts have stuffed down tears for years that desperately needed to be cried. Usually when we get clean & sober all our un-cried tears come to the surface and scream to get out. We then ask ourselves: “What’s wrong with me? I should feel good I tell myself! Next our sponsors quickly tell us to “get over it and write a gratitude list” as they watch us slam the door in the face of AA.
Gratitude lists work great for self-pity. However when it comes to the horrible feelings of grief that result from abuse and other childhood trauma all our sponsors suggestion does is add to our low self-image and push us out the doors.
The most common “grave emotional disorder” that addicts in the rooms suffer from is the inability to process deep hurts and trauma. We have turned our hurt to anger and search for a scapegoat to blame for our intolerable feelings. Our hurts have morphed into anger because “grief”, is unacceptable in our society and in AA unless someone dies. When we experience any other cause of emotional pain except what’s socially acceptable we are often told to just “GET OVER IT!” So driven by shame we bone-up, pretend we are tuff-girls and boys, file our feelings under the “wrong and weak” category and make ourselves sick till we have no other solution except to numb our so called “Invalid feelings”.
Is it no wonder that when one of us relapses so many seem to be so devastated by it…
even when we scarcely know the person who went back out? We are desperate to let out some of our grief in a way that is acceptable to our fellows. We all step up our meetings and talk about our pain and loss when it usually has nothing to do with the guy who just relapsed. Few of us were taught by example or in school that it’s ok to scream and cry feelings out, or that crying is a part of emotional health.
Grave emotional disorders
are not healed by just writing down [our part] and transferring all the blame from one scape goat to the next; [ourselves]. Please don’t hear what I am not saying…we addicts have boatloads of character defects that we need to work on however, not all grave emotional disorder is solved by doing a guilt based fourth step.
Typically Bill was too hard on himself. He was depressed for years and doing his fourth and fifth step did not touch his deep depression. There comes a time when we must pause from blaming ourselves for where we are at emotionally if we are to find answers and heal.
THERE IS NO WRONG FEELING
Taking responsibility for ourselves includes learning how to process hurt, anger, guilt, remorse, disgust, fear, and pain. We must quit running from our emotions to recover. We should start journaling “what happened and how it made me feel. This is a magic cure to depression. Then when we get comfortable with that we can share our feelings no matter how ridiculous our head tells us they are. Labeling feelings wrong, staying in denial about them till they come out sideways at those we love most is dysfunctional. That’s what happens when you call your heart “invalid” and say; “I should not feel that way.” Intense feeling need journalled and shared. Intense feeling can be cried out, screamed out, we can beat the mattress, beat the couch, get a plastic bat and beat a strong tree. This gets feelings out. Sounds crazy huh? Well repressing intense fears and feelings is what gets us sick. Letting them out is one of the most important parts of true recovery.
Have you ever asked why there is so much finger-pointing going on in AA or the world for that matter? And why is it that so few alcoholics and addicts in recovery find healthy and loving long term relationships? We can’t make our significant others’ responsible for our feelings and show them Love at the same time. So many alcoholics just settle for the fact that they will never be able to have a successful relationship if they are to stay sober. Ouch!
Lastly have you ever heard anyone in meetings pit therapy against the program as if there were a war between the two? How about putting religion against the program or pitting religion against therapy (that’s a common one in the church). The fact is these all three are good they are not at war at all. Combining a therapy with the program and a spiritual program along with it will give you the edge you need to recover.
Every person I know that shows quality sobriety; have used a combination of therapy, a 12 step program and seek spirituality. All three are good and all three work if we are willing, open-minded, and honest enough to not practice contempt prior to investigation on any of them.
Therapy vs. program or therapy enhances program?