Friday, October 16, 2009

Choosing to Feel Again

Mark is here at The Coleman Institute with his wife, his son Mark Jr who is 5 years old and his father. Mark has been using 1000 mg of various oxycodone and hydrocodone pills for many years because of a back injury, and is going through an Accelerated Opiate Detox. He is part of a booming family construction business in Arkansas and he has access to lots of pain medications from his employees.

His detox is going beautifully. He has been relatively uncomfortable, partly because the week before he came he reduced the amount of pain meds he was taking.

Today he talked about some of the reasons he feared going off his narcotics: fear of anxiety, fear of boredom and fear of pain.

It’s true…choosing to stop using drugs or alcohol is to choose to feel again.

I recently had a conversation with a person who personifies Recovery. He has allowed himself to dwell in The Process for 25 years and he has a beautiful life to show for it. Recently he is going through some scary emotional risk taking, but he told me how incredibly good it is to feel every single emotion-regardless of the outcome. It is exhilarating for him.

The fact that Mark can name his fears will help him immensely. He says that giving up the pills is like losing a brother. It’s an amazingly accurate statement: these drugs have been there for him when things were going well and when things were going badly. They never judged him.

Mark needs to enter fully into grieving this very real loss. If he is able to stay present to himself as he feels the anger, the sadness, the anxiety, the frustration—he’ll have a much better shot at making it.

He is blessed to have an extremely supportive wife and parents. I can’t emphasize enough to him how much he also needs to be immersed in a group of people who know what he’s been through and can help replace the ‘brother’ he’s losing.

If you can offer any words of encouragement based on your own recovery, please respond to our blog.


  1. I used to refer to hydrocodone as "the love of my life" because it was the only thing I felt like I could count on to get me through the night...and the day...and everything in between. I didn't realize the abuses that I was suffering at the hands of this lover until it was almost too late. When I was in treatment and the fog started to lift, all emotion seemed very sensitive and painful - much like when the blood starts flowing again through a limb that has fallen asleep and the sensation is almost unbearable for a brief time. I had to learn to breath through it, cry through it, write through it, talk through it - whatever was necessary to move me through it without taking a pill. It is always temporary, and there is peace on the other side of it. I have also learned, over time, that the way I talk to myself is key. "I can't take this" has turned into "this is going to be ok, I just have to wait it out." "I can't do this" has turned into "This is nothing, I have done WAY harder than this." I have been clean now for 6 years - I have bad days...but they are the exception rather than the rule. Once, I believed that "feeling good" meant feeling nothing. Today I know a very different kind of feeling good. You may not feel pain when you are numb - but by definition, you will not feel joy either. Frankly, I would rather have both than neither :)

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