At some point in my sobriety I learned that maintaining serenity would require moderating the ups and downs of my emotions. The old timers told me that controlling my excitement and over-elation would automatically lead to fewer emotional valleys. At first this seemed inherently wrong, like artificially dampening my normal enthusiasm. But there was nothing “normal” about my emotions. They were all over the map and capable of ambushing me from left and right at the worst possible times. AA offered me some tools to start getting emotionally grounded. One of them was the phrase “this too shall pass.” I learned to say these words to myself when Snoopy was doing his dance in my head because of some good news or accolade that had come my way. By telling my self “this too shall pass,” I was not killing my own buzz, I was simply cautioning myself, “easy does it.” Once I associated the manic highs with the painful crashes that inevitably followed, it was easier to tame the over-excitement. When the lows came, I would whisper to myself all the encouragement I had learned in the Program: “this too shall pass,” “progress not perfection,” and “one day at a time.” All these forms of self-care have become easier over time. When I recall how fragile my emotional state was during active alcoholism and early recovery, I think of being a “candle in the wind”. But I have kept coming back to AA, and that has given me the opportunity to stay strong and centered.
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