You’ve probably heard about depression and grief in recovery; in fact, we’ve written about both of these topics on this blog. But sometimes you’re just sad, even if you’ve turned your life around by getting sober. Sobriety doesn’t stop difficult feelings—it gives you the tools to cope with them.
Facing Feelings Takes Away Their Hold on You
An important part of coping with hard emotions in recovery is allowing yourself to feel them. Many of us in recovery used drugs or alcohol to deal with our feelings in the past and now need to learn new ways of being with them.
In our society, we are often taught that challenging feelings are to be avoided at all costs. Well-meaning people might say “don’t be sad” or “don’t cry.” However, part of recovery is learning to sit in all feelings, comfortable or not. When you’re avoiding something because you imagine it’ll be terrible, it holds power over you. In my experience, it never feels nearly as bad as I imagine it will.
So, if you need to cry, cry. Put together a sad music playlist or watch an emotionally intense movie.
Practical Ways to Sit in Your Feelings
Meditating is a great way to learn to sit in your feelings without trying to change them. Locate the sadness in your body and sit with it until it passes. If you prefer a guide, I highly recommend Tara Brach—she has tons of free guided meditations.
Journaling is great for both getting out and understanding your feelings. It can help you notice whether the feeling is random, or if some event in your life caused it. Journaling also gives you a way to express your sadness, so that you can start to let it go.
Being Alone or Reaching Out for Support Are Both Valid
Some people want nothing more than to be alone when they’re sad, and others want to be with close people who can support them. You might even want both at different times—or change your mind during one bout of sadness. This is again about observing and listening to yourself.
If you are feeling like it’s hard to hold this sadness on your own, reach out to a supportive person or people in your life. But if at any point it feels like work to be around others and you’d rather be alone, set that boundary.
I was scared of sadness for a long time; more than any other difficult feeling, it felt like one to avoid or “solve.” But sadness is part of life, and while it’s hard, it can be strangely cathartic. When you face it, you not only realize it’s not so terrifying—you are able to see the positives that can come from it.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build the tools to cope with any emotion without using drugs or alcohol. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.