Every now and then I will be stopped in my tracks with a recollection of how it used to be; the comparison of before and after I found a new way of life. Seven years ago I surrendered and sought help for addiction and alcoholism. Drugs, alcohol and depression had been a constant companion from my early teen years until my mid-twenties, and I was completely overwhelmed by my emotions and thoughts on a daily basis.
I would be engulfed with so much pain, misery, anger and sadness that I couldn’t see a way out. It consumed me, failing to give me any respite from my wounded-self, and I would drown in the overwhelming feelings. I lacked the energy to do anything other than allow it to take me down.
My only “break” from these dark emotions came in the form of nightly bottles of wine and grams of cocaine; or so I thought… What I failed to realise was that I was on an endless cycle, a downward spiral, and I assumed that something external, such as a new boyfriend, job or home, would one day solve all my problems and lift me from the cyclone of dismal emotions that enveloped me.
The biggest revelation when I sought recovery from addiction was that I held the answers all along; within me I had the strength to overcome anything, and as I had always suspected, life really didn’t have to be this hard.
I have grown enough now, ‘mind, body and soul’, to know that part of me has always been observing all that I experience. A presence within that is very calm and still, that holds all the inner-knowing I will ever need. I have awakened from a dark slumber and I continue to grow and evolve, aware that my shifting reactions to life’s events is part of that development.
I used to do everything and anything to escape my feelings; from addictive substances and behaviours, to at my worst, suicide attempts. However, today I crave a different solution to the chaos of my thinking; I seek those quiet moments where I can just ‘be’. Where I can simply sit and be immersed in presence, rather than seeking escapism, and most surprisingly I am committed to checking-in with my feelings.
In the past, when overwhelmed by my feelings, I thought something was wrong with me, I judged myself and thought everyone else judged me, so I would attempt to put my best mask on. I thought I felt crazy because I was feeling my feelings, but what I now know to be true is that I felt crazy because I was overly identified with my thinking. I was unable to observe my thoughts, I was living in my head and engaging with the chatter, rather than checking in with my heart and soul.
‘Everything passes’, the Spirit whispers. It all washes over us. Even when we are completely and utterly, one-hundred percent in it, in fact then even more so, it washes over like a wave, ebbing and flowing.
This year has been tough. I have a lot to be grateful for in my life, but as a full-time carer to my Son and having just lost my Dad to cancer, things have been challenging, to say the least.
What strikes me today is that grief, frustration, anger and sadness comes in waves, as opposed to the overwhelming emotions I once experienced. Throughout any one day I experience a whole range of emotions, feeling happy and joyful, until suddenly a wave of sadness and loss sweeps over me, until the next wave of happiness returns. As the Buddhists have long taught, impermanence is the very core of existence. Being aware of these waves, and feeling them entirely, interrupts the pattern of being drowned by the emotion.
Our hearts are so vast, the Spirit so calm and unmoving. It has the capacity to feel it all, hold it all, and cope with it all… All we need is a little faith that ‘this too shall pass’.