I think it’s a true statement that a person with a deep and big heart will experience suffering. I also think that those who do feel deeply can sometimes believe that there’s something wrong. I’ve seen several people in early recovery that cannot seem to accept their emotions. It’s like they feel so much that they’re often overwhelmed and then they lose themselves to the emotions they feel.
To me, it seems like some people are more sensitive to things going on in this life to the point that they absorb far more emotional energy than others. While there are many theories about why some people end up addicted when other do not, it seems like emotional sensitivity is often overlooked. I think that all people really want is to feel like they have a place in this world and that they world accepts who they are. But, when they can’t accept themselves because it can seem like they feel too much, they end up projecting that out into their reality. But, it’s hard to escape the fact that some can actually feel others’ pain just as strongly as they experience their own.
Some people have stronger antennas than others and those antennas pick up all kinds of vibrations. When, like the Beach Boys, there are good vibrations, all is well. But, when those vibrations are laced with even the tiniest amount of pain, there is hurt that is more than uncomfortable. Substances can lessen the impact of that hurt and when substances are used as a tool, they mix with the natural makeup of the person and they then can end up addicted to those substances.
There are many types of people, as we all know. Howard Gardener coined the idea of multiple intelligences. Still, I think we can often forget that while someone can do math really well and another person can draw really well, we lose sight that there are those whose talent and intelligence lie within feeling really well. It’s a skill and it’s one of the saddest things when someone’s lost their capability for feeling due to an addiction. The truth is that it’s a gift to feel strongly; to be that connected to life is something that should be treasured and not muted.
I guess that’s why I recommend that people in recovery seek out means of channeling their emotional energy. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I advocate art and literature and music as means towards emotional health and I’ve come to the conclusion that they allow people a way to use their emotions and not be used by them. Many times, I’ve written when I’m angry (which seems to happen often), but the second I’ve poured out the last word I have to offer, I no longer feel the anger. Whether or not what I’ve written is “good” is beside the point. For me, writing provides an outlet for emotions that can become quite intense and I have no doubt that others can find solace in other such creative acts.
We all feel, but some of us feel more deeply than others. Learning how to manage those emotions without substances is, I think, the great skill of life.