Find Comfort in the Process of Keeping a Journal
Try this: Take a can of soda from the fridge. Open it. What happens? You have a cool, refreshing beverage to enjoy.
Try this: Take a can of soda from the fridge. Drop it on the floor. Now open it. The experience is quite different from the first one, isn’t it? You’ll probably need to grab some paper towels and a mop now.
After you get that cleaned up, keep reading.
Warning: Contents Under Pressure
When a loved one’s struggling with addiction, you experience something very similar to that can of soda. As the emotional turmoil shakes you up, you never release any pressure. You’re dropped on the floor, tossed in the air and shaken until you’re ready to explode.
It’s not healthy to live this way.
Bottling up your emotions results in the constant pressure of all those thoughts, feelings and unspent energy. You’re always waiting for someone to come along and pop the tab. When that happens, it’s messy. Usually, something simple sets you off and you erupt onto someone that doesn’t deserve it. The result is more damage and even more hurt.
Another side effect of suppressing your emotions is that you, essentially, cook yourself. We might never explode like the can, but you stew and stew…simmering in the pressure cooker you’ve created.
Research shows that suppressing emotions can be detrimental to your health. The lack of release keeps your body in a constant state of anxiety and stress. This leads to problems like panic attacks, depression, eating disorders and heart disease, to name a few.
If you aren’t open about your feelings, you establish poor patterns of communication. While you’re focused on suppressing your emotions, you’re inadvertently missing a wealth of social cues from others. Without the correct social cues from others, you’re probably responding inappropriately.
The Write Way Out
How do you break this repressive cycle? Your first mission should be to find healthy ways to express emotion. One proven method is writing in a journal.
As your loved one struggles with addiction, recovery or relapse and creates general emotional upheaval in your life, write it all down. People who keep a personal journal during recovery have improved immune systems, less pain, less need for medication and less depression. They make fewer trips to the doctor and have better overall psychological health.
While you aren’t recovering from an illness or surgery, you have definitely experienced a different kind of trauma. Your loved one’s recovery requires just as much recovery for you. Writing it all out helps you analyze events and your emotions.
Don’t keep everything locked inside. Journal your daily walk through your loved one’s addiction. Allow yourself this release. It reduces the pressure and helps you come out better on the other side.
Additional Reading: The Many Benefits of Wilderness Adventure Therapy
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