How Are You Feeling?

Sometimes it seems that I have been so angry for so long thatI don’t even know I am angry anymore. We all tend to blot out problems and feelings that don’t get resolved over time.When we bury our own anger or hurt (for our own survival)other feelings just naturally get covered over and buried along with them. After a while we begin to accept that we just don’t have those feelings anymore as part of our lives. That is how the denial begins, and over time, our denial sort of naturally deepens, until something comes out sideways.Sideways as in fits of rage; or as in deep dark depressions; or eating disorders; or ‘tendencies’ that morph into addictions; or always being confused about the ‘right’ thing to do; or just living our lives as if we barely exist. All these things were part of my life before ACA and I knew deep down that there was something wrong. But I was so far away from the events that started it all that I could not recognize my own feelings anymore or see where they began. That is exactly why a large part of ACA recovery is about excavating those burial sites where we stuffed our real feelings.Many ACA meetings or small groups start off with individuals trying to identify or reclaim their feelings. Some of us have had very emotional responses to reading the descriptions of feelings from the Red Book as we started to allow parts of our true emotions to come to the surface.I still struggle with some of my sideways reactions but at least now I know why they happen and with the help of my ACA friends, I can release some of my dysfunctional behaviors. As we explore this unstable and sometimes frightening territory of our feelings, we need to remember to focus on loving and taking care of ourselves and we need to be gentle and supportive of each other along the way.

Clare E


  • Loved – A sense of feeling valued, understood, andheard. Listened to. Feeling safe with another. Warmthin the heart. Lightness of body.
  • Fear/Anger – Fear is usually masked by anger. Fear –pounding heartbeat, dilated pupils, increasedbreathing, tightened skin, extreme alertness. Anger –tightened jaw, upwelling in the chest, gritted teeth,dilated pupils, angry thoughts.
  • Shamed or Ashamed – An intense sense of beingfaulty, wrong, or inferior at the core of our being. Afeeling of being ruptured. A burning feeling in thestomach or chest or both. Constricted throat. Difficultyin speaking. Heaviness on the chest and difficultybreathing. Feeling glared at by others.
  • Guilt – A sense of unease or regret for a wrongful orneglectful act against another. Different from shamebecause guilt is usually about something we have donerather than a statement of who we are.
  • Amused – A light feeling of humor or good spirit.Grins and smiles. God’s medicine.Abandoned – A sense of loss, being left, pushed out,forgotten, minimized, betrayed, feeling vulnerable.Feeling physically small. A dot. Lost at sea.
  • Embarrassed – An emotion arising from beingexposed, caught in the act, confronted, ridiculed.Feeling flushed. Heat or redness in the face.Shortened breath. Involuntary stomach flutters.
  • Betrayed – Similar to abandonment; lied to, beingdeceived in meaning, feeling fooled. Spiraling inward.Weakness in the limbs. Praying is difficult.
  • Satisfied – A sense of feeling full inside, rested, notworried, trustful thoughts. Being in the moment. Notwandering. Being in the body. Centered to earth.Grounded to earth.
  • Hopeful – An expectation that things will work out,trusting oneself and others, energy level rises. Breathingis easier. Hitting all green lights.
  • Inspired – A sense of hope and wonderment of peopleand things, colors seem brighter, problems seem to findtheir right size. More energy in the body. Lightness offoot. Obstacles are secondary to solutions.
  • Humiliated – A sense of having the inner self exposed,abused, or taken away by the act of another or self.Vacuumed out. Void. Soul theft.
  • Loss or Grief – A sense that something has been taken,a longing for feeling, given the answers to life butunsure of the questions. A school yard without children.
  • Joy – A sense of integration of the survival traits/common behaviors. Coming out of the dark night of the soul with sureness of foot. Divided self reunited.Inner peace. Recognizing the True Self within. Knowing you can trust yourself. Seeing light in self and others.Energy and warmth throughout the body.
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