The luxury of knowing “why”

Today, truthfully the last couple days, I have been blue. I reject this emotion on so many levels. I consider it less-than. I want it tossed like trash, something to be eliminated—removed from my being. Intellectually I think this is possible; emotionally this is not probable. I am feeling blue.

At first I pretend I am not feeling this way, this substandard way. Next I admit I am feeling this way, but it is for the passing. When it doesn’t pass, I look for someone to blame (watch out loved ones). Sometimes I am successful at keeping my mouth shut, sometimes not. This episode has been successful. It has, however, turned everything inward, straight to me—bull’s eye. The implosion of feeling was cataclysmic. I used to drink over this hatred. Drinking is no longer an option—today. So I must find a new way.

I was a blamer. One of my stronger character defects, I might add. My sponsor lovingly pointed out that is showed up in all my written resentments. I hated hearing this. I remember wanting to blame her for me feeling like a “blamer.” She was correct… in every way. She was simply telling me what no one else would, could, or dared. I love her dearly for telling me what needed to be heard. I heard.

So here I am with these bundled emotions of presumed pain. My drama of life’s unfairness, my lack of disciple, my inability to change, my imperfection, my humanism, my lack of character, my lack of know how … my, my, my. I want answers. Give me answers to this whole thing.

The answer: You don’t get the answer—today.

I hate this answer. (Secretly I hate the word “hate.” It is vulgar to me. Yet I use it to make clear my frame of mind. I cannot afford the luxury of hate either.) I can plead all I want. The relief is not coming. Alas, it is me and my overwhelming, overcritical, over-the-top feelings. Not a good spot for an addict. And still somehow if I just knew why this was happening it would make it all bearable.

Now, is that true? Would knowing why make it all bearable? I ponder.

I give myself the three-day-rule. Three days of feeling it, whatever it is. I just feel that feeling. Today is day three and I find myself here. Still, I have the yucky feelings. So I tell you, my reader. It is all that is left for me to do. It is not that I want to tell anyone. I have a façade that requires protecting. It is that I have no other choice. No other words will come to my fingers until I release these. And clearly I cannot keep my sobriety intact and flourishing if I remain unaffected by this pain.

The results of my pondering: Whatever is happening, I presume it is happening for the greater good. I must or I would just quit … quit this whole crazy world. Knowing why is a luxury I cannot afford today. I feel my feelings today. I journal, feel, run, feel, eat, feel, read, feel, cry, feel, complain, feel, laugh, feel, and feel.

I may not have the luxury of knowing why. But I do have the gift of being able to feel. A gift I have, by far, undervalued. Every time I have felt this pain I have awakened to a stronger me. And this is what I am counting on happening—today.

Lisa Neumann is the author of “Sober Identity: Tools for Re-programming the Addictive Mind” Lisa is also a life skills and recovery coach at Competency Coaching (aka Soberevolution)

No Responses to “The luxury of knowing “why”

  • Hello sweet Lisa. As always, thank you for articulating what so many of us feel. I so relate to the blue feelings and getting “stuck” in them. A sure way out for me is to call YOU, another friend or sister to snap me out of it. It is embarrassing to share my down moods with others, however, I’d like to believe it creates an environment that allows others to call me when they are down. After all, we all have these crummy moods for no real apparent reason. For me, these icky feelings are lifted just hearing that someone cares for me; a few laughs help also. But the surest way to recover for me is to start counting my million blessings. When I get an attitude of gratitude the blues begin to disappear. But it is a process of getting there; sometimes it takes minutes, sometimes it take days to get there. I love you Lisa! E

  • I think perhaps you might benefit from from some changes in your life.


    • I think you are right. I am leaving tomorrow for a much needed camping trip with my family. I believe the time away will be wonderful. Re-prioritizing when I get back. Thanks for the suggestion. with love, Lisa

  • Oh Lisa… I wish I could do something to take away your pain. You help so many and are so inspirational to others–who helps YOU when you need support?

    I do understand a lot of what you say above. We try so hard to stay positive, to stay up, to stay optimistic, to see the beauty in all… and yet we can’t stay this way every waking moment. I tried to describe this to a friend a few years ago- it’s like my light just can’t constantly burn bright- my candle goes out sometimes. That’s the price to pay for burning brightly. Darkness is not a bad thing though- it’s just the absence of light. I think it was Jung who said, “the brighter the light, the darker the shadow.”

    Now I’m just rambling. Have you by chance read the Pema Chodron book “When Things Fall Apart” or “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Gunaratana or “The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts? They speak to the suffering and pain we all feel, and offer solutions and different insights to understanding. They have been very helpful in my recovery and in dealing with my sorrow and grief issues.

    If there are changes you need to make, I wish you the best in your decisions. It may be you just need to offer that same love, light and compassion you show others to yourself. And please don’t rule out the chance that something chemical or hormonal is going on- consider having your thyroid levels checked and perhaps your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone balances. I was quite surprised to recently learn I was estrogen dominant, and was prescribed a small progesterone and testosterone blended compound.

    I wish I could tell you “why”. I don’t know myself. Maybe the “why” is just the quest to understand, realizing we cannot, and being okay with that. Maybe the “why” is different for each one us.

    A friend once sent me a card with a cartoon drawing of a battery on the cover. Its cover read, “What We Can Learn From a Dead Battery.” Inside it read, “In life there must be positive and negative, otherwise things won’t work.”

    I hope you have a great camping trip. Please feel free to email me if you need someone to vent to (runningonsober at gmail). I’ll send you a note from my personal email. Lots of love… Christy

    • Christy, I know the power of shared pain. I am feeling better as we speak. I love so much of what you wrote to me. Thank you. I will follow up on the reading your suggested. I will email you too, if I can(camping, hmmm). It so great to be vulnerable, not feel like I need to protect me all the time. I believe it is the quality that has helped me grow the most. I believe in the law of polarity—everything has its opposite. I am grateful for “my people.” They understand I am not complaining, just growing pains. Lots and lots of love, Lisa

  • When you are not comfortable sharing the down side, the rent on the facade is too high. Carrying it around everywhere we go is tiring. Admitting to down time is letting your body rest from the work of being what you are expected to be…as opposed to what you are.

    Embrace the blue period (every artist has one). In it is the strength to be yourself, which will always be far more beautiful than the facade.


  • Lisa, I sometimes wonder if we are, in fact, the exact same person. I relate to everything you write, down to the point about hating the word hate. I am disdainful of myself when I am depressed, and consider myself above the idea of being blue for no apparent reason. The good news is, once I finally getting around to admitting it out loud, and validate the feelings, they tend to dissipate. I bet by the time you read this comment you will be feeling better, and I cannot wait for you next post to know you are better! You continue to inspire me, and give me hope for myself…

    • Thank you for your kind words. We are the same person. At a quantum level we are connected (The Law of Divine Oneness0 This is one of the twelve laws that I share about in my book. I am feeling better … how right you were!

  • Lisa, your blog brought tears to my heart. You’re so special. To think of you, in that
    kind of deep pain saddens my heart. You do help so many people. Me.. being one of them! Hope that your camping trip has given you some peace. The three day rule… love it! When the emotional pain hits.. it brings some relief to know that in three days, the pain could be gone.. kinda like the flu. Life sure likes to give us challenges! I have learned over the last five years how true it is “that what doesn’t kill us, does make us stronger” Thanks to your coaching, I’ve walked through some emotional pain and I am so excited to share how much “joy” I feel today. The world around me hasn’t changed… but, somethimg more magical then what is around me has. My spirt can find peace and feel love in an emotional storm. Lisa, You.. have helped me find myself.
    I have found every time I have felt that emotional pain inside.. so deep surprises me that I could still be breathing. And after the feeling has passed….it could be hours, minutes, day’s, months even years… But, I have awakened to a stronger me. I find this to be true each time I have to feel the yucky feelings.
    Thank you, for being such a blessing in my life.
    I love you dearly,

    • Thank you for “seeing” me and loving me as a coach, mentor, and friend. It is not ever easy for me to let others see that I feel vulnerable. I was taught that this is weakness. My continued spiritual work, however, teaches me differently. I share not from a place of shame, but from a place of healing. I share to find the solution, not labor in the pain—the drama of it all. You have been a blessing. To watch you grow is a gift beyond measure. With love, Lisa

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