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Alcoholism - The Disease of Emotions

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

“She goes from one addiction to another. All are ways for her to not feel her feelings.” – Ellen Burstyn, American actress

When I was in rehab for my alcoholism, I remember the head of clinical calling alcoholism the "disease of emotions." That reverberated with me then and it's reverberating with me this past week or so as I battle with some pretty big feelings like sadness, which is causing me to fall into a minor depression.

It's feelings like these that would have made me reach for a bottle once upon a time not too long ago.

Who am I kidding? It's all feelings that would have had me reaching for a drink -- happy, glad, sad, bored ... I drank about everything so I would feel ... nothing.

I've written and spoken about therapy abuse and how it happened to me more than 15 years ago. I said that was the reason I started drinking heavily. "I have PTSD, so I drink." That was my mantra and I believed it.

But now I'm working the 12 steps and finding more about how I tick ... I'm looking at my part in situations that happened in my life and realizing a pattern of behavior that while I won't label bad or good, it was definitely a pattern of not being able to deal with emotions or with life in general.

I wasn't ready or able to be an adult. I didn't know how ... but I'm learning.

Life isn't always easy. "This too shall pass" is a handy saying to remember when it isn't. Right now I feel sad and it used to scare me. It scared me so much I wanted it to go away RIGHT NOW. Alcohol was a quick fix. It took away my sadness ...

Unfortunately it took away everything else, too. I missed out on a lot of other feelings and events because I was passed out/tranquilized/numb.

Right now I'm feeling sad ... and it sucks. I HATE this feeling. But I now know it too shall pass. I just have to sit in it and let it be.

My husband's friend from high school died the other day and that's what started this sadness. Did I know him well? No, not really. I only saw him at reunions once or twice. What I'm mourning is the passing of time and getting older.

But, there's nothing I can do about it except appreciate the time I have and all the friends and family around me. I'm so fortunate to have my husband and our furry friends. I'm fortunate it many ways. I'm especially fortunate to be sober and feel all of my emotions.

Here are some tips I use to get through days when I'm feeling blue:

  • Cooking healthful meals (great summer veggies!)

  • Taking long walks with my pal and rescue "mutt" Paisley

  • Writing

  • Reading inspirational meditations and essays

  • Listening to my favorite types of music and dancing a bit :)

  • Calling friends

  • Going to a daily recovery meeting or listening to one on Zoom

Basically - I'm not isolating, I'm reaching out, being honest and open to life.... whatever it brings me today.

My husband and dog Paisley taking a walk. Exercise and loved ones - a sure cure for the blues!

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