Heartbreak, Loss, and Bullying in Recovery
I am currently experiencing a situation reminiscent of high school, one of heartbreak, loss and bullying.
The only difference is I am being ‘bullied’ in an environment where I should feel safe. My safe place has become a thing of teenage nightmares. I wake up fearful, anxiety-ridden and full of despair.
What are they going to say about me today?
What are they going to laugh at behind my back?
Who is actually going to greet me today?
I am full of fear and self-loathing because of other peoples’ opinions of me. All I want is a drama free life. Surprisingly I would never have wanted that a few years ago – I used to crave and create drama. All I want now is growth, I no longer want to regress and become part of the problems around me. So I wake up, walk into that environment and hold my head high (even if I want to crawl into the foetal position and cry, or at times, punch straight through a brick wall and let the harshest of words seep into the subconscious of all those around me who are hurting me.) I have to put my recovery and my sanity first. Fake it till I make it.
I put on a smile, do what I have to do and make a plan to change my situation. It’s one thing for me to sit around and let it happen while complaining and feeling sorry for myself. It is another thing to actively make a change, speak up and ask for help. Nothing changes if nothing changes, as they say. I feel I have been so damaged through this process that a part of me could use this as the best excuse for a relapse or self-destructive behaviour. I could easily fall into the ‘poor me, poor me, pour me a drink’ mentality. I have to keep telling myself to not allow another human being to have that much power over me.
Coping with uncomfortable emotions
Dealing with heartbreak, bullying or plain old drama is never easy or comfortable; this is especially true in recovery. Many people use this kind of pain as an excuse to relapse. The biggest reservations that come with recovery lie in some sort of loss. I have heard many people in recovery say that their biggest fear is a broken relationship, death of a loved one or failure in the workplace. These are all damaging, but these are all a part of life.
We have spent years numbing our emotions through alcohol, drugs, sex, or food (or lack of food)… anything to distract us from reality. So how do we cope? How do we stop that addict part of us from acting out on heartache or fear?
How to handle heartbreak, loss or bullying in recovery (I suppose I could just say, ‘How to handle life in recovery’ if I wanted to keep it simple.):
• Go to more meetings: Going through a breakup, job loss or death in recovery is tough (understatement, I know). That is why you need to get yourself out there, put yourself in a safe environment – a place where you are free to vent, rant and purge your emotions. There are people in the rooms who have been through the same thing or are going through the same thing… you are never alone in NA or AA. Plus, listening to others share in a meeting could completely alter your perspective and give you a dose of hope.
• Speak to your sponsor: There is a reason that AA and NA suggest having a sponsor. Let’s be honest, sometimes us addicts cannot exactly think clearly – we need someone to guide us through our thought process. When going through heartbreak or loss we most certainly cannot trust our thinking. Speak to your sponsor before you act on a whim.
• Seek counselling/attend relapse prevention groups: If you are concerned for your well-being, get yourself professional help. I have seen many men and women come into a relapse prevention group after years of clean time because of serious loss or just plain complacency. There is no shame in taking preventative measures… this is your life after all, and you are worth recovery.
• Step Work: Some people hate it, some people love it. The bottom line is that step work, well, works. Go back to the basics and start from step one. Not only will the process open you up to parts of yourself you had neglected, it also helps you discover your worth again while at the same time, allowing you to grieve safely.
Have you experienced loss, heartbreak or some form of bullying in your recovery? Share your story with other addicts and let them know what processes got you through this time. Remember, one addict helping another is without parallel. And I can tell you straight up, if I hadn’t reached out to other recovering addicts at this stage in my life, I’m pretty sure I would be on a very dark path… one that I may not have come back from.