Some of my feelings have been stored so long they have freezer burn.
— BEYOND CODEPENDENCY
There are many sources of pain in our life. Those of us recovering from adult children and codependency issues frequently have a cesspool of unresolved pain from the past. We have feelings, sometimes from early childhood to the present, that either hurt too much to feel or that we had no support and permission to deal with.
There are other inevitable sources of pain in our life too. There is the sadness and grief that comes when we experience change, even good change, as we let go of one part of our life, and begin our journey into the new.
There is pain in recovery, as we begin allowing ourselves to feel while dropping our protective shield of denial.
There is the pain that leads and guides us into better choices for our future.
We have many choices about how to stop this pain. We may have experimented with different options. Compulsive and addictive behaviors stop pain—temporarily. We may have used alcohol, other drugs, relationships, or sex to stop our pain.
We may talk compulsively or compulsively focus on other people and their needs as a way to avoid or stop our pain.
We may use religion to avoid our feelings.
We may resort to denial of how we are feeling to stop our pain. We may stay so busy that we don’t have time to feel. We may use money, exercise, or food to stop our pain.
We have many choices. To survive, we may have used some of these options, only to find that these were Band-Aids—temporary pain relievers that did not solve the problem. They did not really stop our pain; they postponed it.
In recovery, there is a better choice about how we may stop pain. We can face it and feel it. When we are ready, with our Higher Power’s help, we can summon the courage to feel the pain, let it go, and let the pain move us forward—into a new decision, a better life.
We can stop the behaviors we are doing that cause pain, if that’s appropriate. We can make a decision to remove ourselves from situations that cause repeated, similar pain. We can learn the lesson our pain is trying to teach us.
If we are being pelleted by pain, there is a lesson. Trust that idea. Something is being worked out in us. The answer will not come from addictive or other compulsive behaviors; we will receive the answer when we feel our feelings.
It takes courage to be willing to stand still and feel what we must feel. Sometimes, we have what seems like endless layers of pain inside us. Pain hurts. Grief hurts. Sadness hurts. It does not feel good. But neither does denying what is already there; neither does living a lifetime with old and new pockets of pain packed, stored, and stacked within.
It will only hurt for a while, no longer than necessary, to heal us. We can trust that if we must feel pain, it is part of healing, and it is good. We can become willing to surrender to and accept the inevitable painful feelings that are a good part of recovery.
Go with the flow, even when the flow takes us through uncomfortable feelings. Release, freedom, healing, and good feelings are on the other side.
Today, I am open and willing to feel what I need to feel. I am willing to stop my compulsive behaviors. I am willing to let go of my denial. I am willing to feel what I need to feel to be healed, healthy, and whole.
From the book: The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series
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