(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
My stress level was high at the office and I was on edge. During this time, Ed was loud and I was having difficulty getting him to shut up, so I was more frustrated, anxious and vulnerable than usual. One evening, Rachel and I got into a fight over something stupid and we ended up parting ways, one upstairs and one downstairs. I was angry and hurt, and Ed took that opening and ran with it.
He said, “Cheryl, I know what would make you feel better. Just cut yourself a little and you’ll be able to make the pain go away.”
And before I knew it, I was up and doing Ed’s bidding. It was so fast and so automatic. There I was, starting to hurt myself when recovery stepped in and said, “No, don’t listen to him!” It was like someone slapped me across the face. I was jarred awake. My eyes blinked fast and I came out of the daze I was in. I immediately realized what I was doing and stopped.
Ed yelled back, “Cheryl, this will make you feel better. Trust me, I know you and what you need right now.”
At that point, I had to really think about my next action. What could I do to help with this anxiety and anger? I needed to not listen to Ed, but at the same time I needed to listen to Recovery. Hurting myself was not going to help me through my feelings, but my mind was racing and I didn’t know what to do.
What I chose was a step toward recovery. I took my power back. I ran to the freezer and grabbed two ice cubes—one for each hand. I squeezed tightly, took deep breaths, and said over and over, “Ed is wrong, Recovery is right.” After a few minutes, I could feel the cold in my hands and I concentrated on that. Slowly, the voices in my head quieted down, and my anxiety and anger began to dissipate as well.
After a few minutes I dried off my hands, took a deep breath, and congratulated myself that even though I had enlisted to Ed in the beginning, I had intervened and changed the behavior. I faced the feelings and got through them. I did not let Ed keep the power; I took it back.
When you are faced with stressful situations or feelings and Ed is doing all the talking, do you go on autopilot? Redirect your thoughts by listening closely for the voice of recovery; it is there. What is it saying to you? Write down three messages that recovery can say to you when you go on autopilot.
With health, hope and strength,