One of the biggest things that happened to me during my days out on the rehab ranch was that somewhere along the way, my guard lowered. I know that sounds like a completely positive thing - and in most ways, it was...I was able to talk about ways of feeling that weren't just anger or frustration, two emotions that had been kind of dominant for a long time. I was able to discuss grief and sadness and regret and happiness and joy, and I was able to discuss how I wanted some of those and didn't want others. But a lowered guard is a little like a compromised immune system: bad stuff can get in too. I discovered that I am a little bit of a "fixater," especially if I find out that someone likes me for any reason. Even a total stranger who laughs at a joke of mine can become an object of my fixation. It's not stalker-y...I don't mean it that way. It's more like the way you really admire a pair of shoes and can't stop thinking about them until they are part of your shoe collection - even though you have plenty of shoes and will probably never wear this pair. So maybe "fixater" is the wrong word; perhaps I am just a collector. Whatever it's called, it's a distraction and once I noticed it, it kind of embarrassed me...not that I could in any way control it. Other bad things crept in too: my competitive streak ("I want to get an 'A' in rehab!"), my jealous streak ("why is the counselor paying so much attention to that idiot over there instead of me?"), my mean streak ("oh, this guy might as well get a rehab punch card").
Worst of all is sadness. I did a good job of keeping it at bay while I was out there, and I've fenced it away toward the back of my brain as much as possible, but a few days ago, I could detect a few drops of black ink in the clear water surrounding me. It wasn't too tough to pinpoint why...a friend's relapse, some job stress and the impending end of my out-patient therapy. This last was particularly distressing; I absolutely loved my out-patient therapy and had been feeling anxious about its end. The final session was last night. I was predictably teary and more than a little upset later in the car on the way home. I took the long way so I could just cry it out, but when I got in the driveway, I was still churning out big fat tears.
But I did not drink. Which is how I normally deal with sadness. I just drink until I am not sad anymore. This has gotten me in a significant amount of trouble - I still have to deal with a tremendous well of grief from an event about a year and a half ago. But I'm not going to drink over it. I'm also not really ready to deal with it realistically so I am back-burnering it for just a while longer while I concentrate on the rest of me for a bit.
What I can do now is work on raising the wall a little - not all the way back up to be full-on on-guard, but just enough to slow some of the bad things down, to tamp down some of the sadness until it's a tiny pile of embers rather than a full-on fire. Otherwise I'm like a baby, reacting to things completely based on emotion rather than stopping and thinking them through before deciding how to process them. I am a lot of things, but a baby is not one of them.