Lately, I’ve been feeling I’m being nudged to write. Little messages I’m picking up along the way encouraging me to go within and find the thing that fills my cup. The thing speaks to my inner light. The thing makes me feel strong, confident and whole. I’m pretty sure that “thing” for me is writing. And so here I am, writing. Just for the sake of putting pen to paper (well, not literally, I’m actually typing this out on my phone, but you get the idea).
I’m undergoing a transformation of sorts. Breaking old habits that are almost second nature but that no longer serve me. Maybe it’s covid-19 that has finally pushed me through the portal to the other side where I can see with clarity that I actually WANT to change these old, unhealthy behaviours and ways of living. It’s my time to stop moving through life on autopilot.
Namely this transformation has to do with my emotional wellness. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been led by my emotions. They pull me in one direction and like a dog on a leash, I follow. Sometimes reluctantly, sometimes with the vigour of a greyhound at a race track, but usually without questioning the emotion too much or stopping to consider the consequences. I follow blindly and then usually find myself full of remorse and regret for being led down a path to anger, self-pity, resentment and fear.
It’s probably why I relied on alcohol and found such relief (for a time) in the throes of my alcoholism and drug use. All those feelings could get lost in the waves of addiction. We have an expression at AA when we get sober – it’s that we finally have to FEEL our feelings. And that usually feels overwhelming when you’ve spent your entire adult life squashing them with booze and drugs. I remember a friend of mine telling me when we were in early sobriety that she had a full-blown revelation when she realized her feelings wouldn’t actually KILL her. She could feel big, scary, hard feelings and make it through the other side alive.
Today, I know my feelings are my greatest teacher. It’s only been after feeling painful, dark and uncomfortable emotions that I’ve managed to do any real growing.
When I was a kid, I used to get sore knees. My knee pain tended to flare up at bedtime and would keep me from falling asleep. My mom would come into my room and prop a pillow under my legs and soothe me until I finally felt sleepy. She would tell me that I must be going through a growth spurt and was having the growing pains that go along with that.
It appears that whether the growth be physical, emotional or spiritual, there is always some pain associated with it. Once you get past the painful part comes the clarity part. In a physical growth spurt, you can see that you’ve grown. We chart our kids height on a wall in the basement and can clearly see that they’ve each grown two to three inches since March (the very beginning of covid in Canada).
Emotional growth spurts, for me anyway, are usually accompanied by heavy, weighted emotions. The ones that are so heavy that I can look nowhere but inward for some release from the discomfort. The quick fixes that often distract me from my mild pain (shopping, planning, comparing) won’t work in these situations.
This is where the spiritual growth spurt comes in. When the emotional pain rears it’s head and tells me it’s time, I’m guided inward to find my connection to that spirit that helps me manage all these big emotions. If I’m willing, I follow. When I was an active alcoholic, I never followed. There was no place more frightening than INWARD.
Gratefully that has changed and today, even when I’m in the depth of feeling the pain and discomfort, I know from experience that it’s shown up to teach me. I may not know the lesson immediately, but I know that it’s coming. I need to open my eyes and heart and be ready to receive it. Be willing and humble enough to listen and learn.
It was this kind of pain that led me to get sober over 14 year ago. And it was this kind of pain that has shown up maybe one or two times since then. It’s always intense and it always winds up benefitting me. Maybe it won’t show up again? Maybe I’ll have learned enough from my past that future lessons won’t require those kinds of intense growth spurts.
This most recent lesson is about my emotions but it’s also about my spirit. And my spirit is calling me to write.