There is a saying in Emotional Health Anonymous at the end of our birthday song that keeps resonating in the back of my head. In unison we all shout, “you need the help, obviously!” And yet for me, for so long, nothing was quite obvious until I finally made it into the doors of Emotional Health Anonymous.
My story is about peeling away who I am to get to the truth. I was sick for so many years; emotionally sick, that is. I did not see that as being “my problem”. What it was like for me was constantly being afraid. At a young age I could not see myself happy. I am not sure when my emotional problems passed into a realm of calamity. I honestly do not recall a defining moment per se. I had no friends for the most part. I reeked of self-pity and moped – “Who wants to hang around a black cloud?” The fear took shape in many forms. I was terrorized by one particular classmate during my elementary school days to the point where I would walk home headed westbound when that was not the way to my house — walking all around just to avoid a confrontation with this person. For many years I was the frightened kid that all you had to do was look at me and I would cower in the corner.
And yet, I was definitely a pressure cooker of emotions just waiting to erupt. I knocked down this girl in seventh grade and had my hands around her neck, obviously shocking those around me, for I was the quiet one. It seemed like everyone would just look the other way whenever I deviated from my otherwise demure demeanor. No one said, “What were you thinking?” It seemed I was never held responsible for my actions or that was the way I chose to remember it. The fact is I most likely have distorted the truth over the years. For me, the term is coined self-avoidance. Avoid the truth at all cost.
So my life was about making primarily poor choices. I never saw that I could possibly need help. Somehow, some way, I believed I had to just face up that I was disorganized; I was a procrastinator; I just needed to get my act together. I had to do this on my own, is what I thought to be my only solution.
What eventually happened that sent me propelling pathetically into the program of Emotional Health Anonymous was the sudden death of my sister. The abridged version is that she died- I was allowed to grieve from work – I returned to work – Five months afterward I am asked to do something – I sulk and protest immaturely – I am criticized for my response – I feel threatened – I feel like I am being shoved up against a wall and I cannot stand the way they are making me feel – And what happened is that I muster all I have and yell, “I wish I was dead.” And silence befell the room. The administrator poised in front of the bay window contemplatively replied to me, “You need to get help.” Another five months later I was at my first meeting of Emotional Health Anonymous.
Perhaps, ironically, my first day in the program was one day shy of my sister’s first anniversary of her death. I do not recall minute details of that first meeting, but I realized I needed to be there. I left that meeting with what I call two crucial pieces of information. The first, “If you want to know if the program of Emotional Health Anonymous is for you, try four meetings a week for thirty days, and second, “keep coming back.” Despite my stubbornness, I figured I had to do this. I started going to meetings, eventually hearing about the four suggested tools of recovery: A) attend four meetings a week, B) read two pages from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous daily, C) make a contact call with at least one other member daily; men stick with men, women with women, and D) say simple prayers on my knees morning and night.
What my life is like now — for the most part, I try to adhere to the tools, but I can be a poor student at times. I am apt to put my mind on some out of control track. I seem not to understand how crucial letting go is to making my life worthwhile. The first step is “I admitted I was powerless over my emotions and that my life had become unmanageable.” How could I reach that point when I was so reluctant to admit I even had emotional problems. That is why I am so grateful that despite it all, I just kept coming back. It bugged the heck out of me when the only and obvious answer I would hear was “keep coming back..” Did they not realize I wanted specific answers right then and there. But that is part of the solution. This is now a way of life for me. The program must come first. I do not have the luxury of second guessing things.
Today I truly realize that I am indeed a person who has emotional problems. This obvious truth I am grateful for. I know now I am in the right place. It definitely has not been easy. My life now must be guided by what I learned in Emotional Health Anonymous. To summarize what my life is like now, I am coming up to my first year of employment in a new field. I believe I am truly an asset and that I definitely have something concrete to offer. I do not wish to remain in a place of stagnation, so I am now willing to take risks such as advancement. Hopefully I am doing as I have heard in the program. The purpose of my life is to be of service to God and to others. What is obvious to me now is that God is indeed my guiding force and that I am forever grateful. I will keep coming back.