I’ve had numerous people reaching out this week asking 1. if their emotional response was normal in withdrawal and 2. how to cope. Here is a little tool I used to ride out the intense emotions that broadsided me on a very regular basis. I also did this with certain body sensations.
I color coded my emotions. The deep, dark, dank depression? Easy…. that was black. The empty in my chest feeling of hopelessness? That was brown. The grinding feeling I felt in my body when joy was starting to kick in but it was too big and too fast? That was orange. Memories of past abuse and shame that flooded me? That was blue. Twinkles of hope? It was yellow.
When I felt those things, I would say to myself, “Oh, that’s the brown stuff. Or, “Hey, this is just that orange stuff.” What that did was two things. 1. It identified the feeling as a “thing” separate from me. That’s important in being able to ride out intense emotions. 2. It gave me a sense of control over my emotions since I could see them as “things.” I knew they would have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Color coding the strange and intense emotions is withdrawal really did help me hold, distract my attentions from them, and keep going. That’s not to say that I wasn’t very uncomfortable at times with my feelings. I was. But it did help me hold on.
What colors would you attribute to your emotions? Or, maybe you want to identify them as textures, or shapes. You can label them however works best for you, so that when they come along, you can say “Oh, right. This is just that ……” and you will know its NOT you, its just “that stuff” and it will go away.
One of the biggest fears and challenges we face in withdrawal is the belief that the way we feel is forever. When you label your feelings you can better see that they come and they go. Eventually, ALL of this nonsense in withdrawal will go away. Forever.
I am curious if this little trick works for you. It sure did help reduce my suffering. Just the other day I felt that old weird tug of depression and I was able to tell myself, “This is just that brown stuff” and within a few minutes I had forgotten about it and it had passed.
I’m having more yellow days now for sure. Joy! And the sense of hope that the future will be bright? That’s green. And the deep satisfaction I have knowing my life is now more healed than ever before in my entire 56 years, that is purple, beautiful luscious purple.