Feeling all the feels…

Sunday 20 Aug, 2017, 4:33pm by Mrs D 22 comments

Make no bones about it. This is what getting sober is all about. When you quit drinking and commit to spending 100% of your time with a wide open (sober) brain, you are committing to feeling all the feels all the time.

What are all the feels? Oh just the charming emotions like sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, boredom, annoyance, confusion, disgust, surprise, anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment (to name but a few).

Get used to them. There ain’t no escape.

This is what you have to be prepared for. No longer will you be someone who can blur away anger, or numb sadness, or smooth over boredom. There will be no taking the edge off a draining day with a wine or four, or gratefully receiving a beer after dealing with something stressful. Alcohol – the great legal drug that helps humans avoid emotions – has left your building. Quitting drinking means you are now unable to avoid the blunt edges of tough emotions. There is no more avoidance. Your escape route has gone.

I’ll be brutally honest. At first this is not a whole lot of fun. In the early days and weeks of recovery ‘feeling all the feels’ is like being on a furious rollercoaster. After I quit my heavy drinking habit I lurched from one emotional state to another like a crazy woman. One minute screaming at the kids, then crying for no apparent reason, feeling waves of awful hopeless, and often this horrible itchy boredom.

But slowly – very slowly – things calmed down. I got better at navigating my way through tough times. I became familiar with my anger and sadness and less reactive to them. I was able to stop myself from losing the plot at the drop of a hat.

I got used to feeling all the feels and slowly I left behind my numb, boozy, lush-like persona and morphed into a fully fledged human capable of navigating the full range of experiences.

And now – at nearly 6 years sober – I am so used to feeling all the feels I couldn’t imagine it any other way. And I’m ok with it! Incredibly, after being an emotion avoider for the 20+ years that I boozed, I now believe feeling all the feels is actually a really good and important thing to do. Tough emotions are there for a reason. We’re supposed to feel them. They don’t kill us, they actually protect us, connect us with our fellow humans and teach us things.

Every time I grind through a tough time and don’t drink I come out in a better state that I would have if I’d turned to wine throughout. I don’t feel confused about what occurred or unsure about how I felt. I know exactly how I felt and surprisingly this alone makes it a bit easier to get over. Know this: doing nothing but feeling all the feels makes tough phases easier to process and get over. And over time, the more that I do this, the more in touch with myself I become. It’s a very calming and affirming way to live.

I now know what frustrates me and what causes me stress. I know that my anger isn’t to be feared and my sadness isn’t to be avoided. I know that it’s normal to go up and down, to struggle at times and not to always be on some sort of artificial ‘high’. Living sober all the time and feeling all the feels has slowly turned me into a fully realised woman - grounded in myself and my emotions – and this is a very satisfying thing. It feels authentic and brave and very, very rewarding.

And this is the upside to feeling all the feels. You can’t selectively un-numb. In return for having to deal with tough emotions (which ultimately isn’t that bad because they’re there for a reason and it’s healthy to acknowledge them) we get to feel the good ones in all their glory too. All of the lovely positive emotions such as; bravery, satisfaction, joy, elation, pride, excitement, love, contentment, gratitude, hope, amusement, inspiration, awe, interest.

And boy are they good! When they come naturally and aren’t forced by a liquid drug, they are so sweet and satisfying. I’ve had joyful highs sober that have rivalled any chemical enhancement I’ve ever felt. I’ve felt intense love and connectedness that has made my breath catch in my throat. And I’ve experienced deep pride and satisfaction so comforting it’s felt life changing.

Booze will NEVER give me what sobriety has. Feeling all the feels is absolutely the best way to live and I’m so grateful to have discovered that fact.

Love, Mrs D xxx

22 comments

  1. I’m a binge drinker ok for months then a week or so of numbing pain, only really started numbing pain if a realtionship ended or under heaps of stress.
    My dad died in front of me 3years ago then 2weeks later heard my husband had prostate and bladder cancer, his brain became affected and started beating me up smashing all my belongings, ranchsliders I was walking on egg shells and got PTSD living in fear for my life, the police prosecuted him which took a year and he got community service!!!! No justice whilst he remained in a high paying executive job, I had to renovate and sell our two houses. Then I crashed and couldn’t get out of bed and binge drinking became my friend, suppressing pain and helping me sleep, but was numb.
    Now I face my emotions even though raw and tough and only one slip in 6 months, by mindfulness, support group through cads and reading blogs!!!!
    I have come off 3years of antidepressants and anxiety drugs myself slowly and whilst tough, keep distracted as I’m selling my house….looking to 2018as a year of change, moving and new job.
    Finally started to meet friends and socialise

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  2. Finally,
    Your post resonated with me. I totally get what you mean regarding the drunks hanging out on the sidewalk. I’ve even gotten to know some of them by name. They know me as the rich woman that’ll throw them a couple bucks on my way out of the liquor store. I often feel like I’m only a couple of steps away from joining them. Scares the hell out of me! This is day 1 for me. Yikes! I’m petrified of the feels! Here we go,,,,,wish me luck.

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    1. Hi Feelings, Hope you are doing okay. Im in the middle of moving, after a long renovation, so have not been available. I’m still struggling. Long complicated story but I have moved 13x’s in 2 years while redoing my apartment and trying to get sober. My disease has progressed along the way. It is crazy. Everything they say will happen does…drink during the day, lie about your drinking, justify health issues. On the outside, to most I look good. I am not! I could use a struggling friend to vent with

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  3. Starting again! I have just ordered lottas 2 books which I am so excited to read. I love this site, great comments support and adice. Thankyou to everyone :-)

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  4. Feeling all the feels…on my first day (again) is like chaos in a pressure cooker. I would not stand to close if I didn’t have to. I’ve been on this road for two years years and the most sobriety I’ve had is six months. I feel like a failure!

    I live in Soho. In a very upscale neighborhood in NYC. On the outside everything looks good. Perfect children, rich good looking husband. I should be happy! Right! I’m not. I’m a binge drinker. I drink to get away from, I’m not sure what, but something that must be really bad. Who would drink like that? Why?
    Sometimes I’m walking down a street and I see a homeless person and think to myself I know why they are there. I can identify more with them more then I can with my girlfriends. I fantasize about where they came from and how they got there. They at some point were no different than me. They had a normal life with options and addiction took it away. It is insane! I live in 5 million dollar apartment and truly believe if I do not get it together I will die and/or lose everything!

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  5. Wow Lotta, I am over three years AF and your post is exactly how I feel today, as I have three boys and one is 15 years old going on 18!!! And I just had that thought, ‘ OMG! Just imagined if I still drank, I would deserve a wine every night to cope with the stresses.’ And then I had a proud moment of thinking to myself ‘You Go Girl,’living in the rawness of life can be hard, but at the same time very rewarding. xx

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  6. I love this…it sums it up perfectly, and a raw reminder of why we use alcohol in the first place, to not feel the feels.

    I’m over 1 month sober after 10 years of numbing myself out, and I fucking love being sober!

    I thank you a million times over Mrs D for your way with words, your unapologetic honesty and your persistent warm nature which helps lost souls find their way home again xx

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  7. Just reading your book Lotta,nearly finished.I have recently been in the orbit of several alcoholics and wanted to get more of a handle on what drives it.
    Everything you describe about numbing the feelings and staying emotionally disconnected I understand.Early experiences in my life left me self numbing with sex and socialising. I too used alcohol, made bad choices in men and experiences,I was a classic rescuer- far easier to help others than look at myself. Counselling and self examination in my early 40s eventually led me to making some lifestyle choices.
    You are so right,if we avoid facing stuff we stay emotionally stunted and unavailable to feel and mature.However it is so worth the journey,to wholeness.I like myself,I’m happy to have days alone,I enjoy others so much more.
    Keep going,your honesty is refreshing and informative.

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  8. Thankyou for this post- I have followed your journey with real interest from the beginning. Back then I admired your bravery, honesty and guts taking on such a challenge. Today my admiration continues unabated- this bit about “feeling the feels” is a healthy reminder in our society where so much is anesthetized with alcohol and it is a social norm.

    Your refreshing honesty continues is much needed
    Go well Mrs D with every blessing.xx

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  9. I love this – I think somewhere we thought that if we were feeling difficult and uncomfortable feelings, there was something wrong and we needed to do something about it – like drink alcohol. And with sobriety, we see that it’s all a part of life, that it wants to be heard and that it passes. I love that I get to still grow up a lot and learn a lot at my age. Thank-you @mrs-d!

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  10. Thanks so much for that lotta , you have put what I am going through in words so much better than i could . It’s great , I could just read it to my wife and say this is what it’s like for me at the moment . it’s not just me being weird cause sometimes it feels like cause I am sober I should be some kind of superman cause I have broken free . I also worry that my loved ones expect perfection from me to be less moody, achieve twice as much and not pick up new addictions. It helps to check this with them as l have learned that mostly it’s nothing compared to my drinking and I think they would all take a moody me over and drinking me. That’s the thing with booze you never really know objectively what you were like cause you were drunk but now your not. Apples and oranges.

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    1. Great comment…”That’s the thing with booze you never really know objectively what you were like cause you were drunk but now your not”

      So true how can you ever really trust yourself to tell a full unbiased story of your drinking when you weren’t even there….that was the part that always scared the shit out of me!

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  11. Wonderful blog, feeling the hard feelings is going to be scary but also enjoying the good ones is already something I am doing with a quiet smile. Thank you so much Lotta!

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