The Recovery Chronicles by Laura Smith are a series of essays which delve into the ways that dreams can support 12 step recovery work. Through her own personal experiences in recovery and with the dreams, Laura shows how dreams can offer insight, hope, and support in the deeper work toward emotional sobriety.
Throughout my early recovery, I had several provocative dreams. In one, I dreamed that I was sleeping and then I awoke and felt something moving under my shirt at my solar plexus. I pull my shirt up and suddenly a badger-like creature burst out of my body like in the scene from the movie Alien. Naturally, I am horrified. I grab a hold of it with both hands and pull on it. It snarls and snaps at my hands as I pull it out. It is a wild creature, fierce. It is hard to pull it out and it feels like it is attached deep inside me somewhere. But I get it out and I throw it away from me. Then I am looking down at my body and where the hole would be is a new scar. It is healed but I feel an ache deep inside of me like something is missing.
When I had this dream, I equated this creature as the demon of my disease, alcoholism, and an exorcism through the force of my own will. But I have come to learn over time, that the dream is not always what we think and often it is more.
At the time of this dream, I was also working with my anger, which I had repressed for most of my life. Alcohol had helped me with the anger, keeping it contained. But at some point, it had escaped, and like a genie from a bottle, it could not be put back. Unbeknownst to me, the alcohol has stopped working. I endured 4 more years of the horrors of my bottom before finding the rooms of AA.
In early recovery, I had much angst, shame, and fear over my seeming loss of control around the anger, which worsened when I put the alcohol down. I couldn't understand what was happening. I wanted the anger gone, but it seemed nothing I did would relieve me of the anger. It was like I had traded the alcohol for a new addiction, though I refused to admit that I got anything out of the anger. When my sponsor suggested this, I was outraged. I hated my anger!
As time went on and I did a 4th step, clearing many resentments and gaining some good insight into my anger, I had to come into agreement that there was something I got out of this anger. But I couldn't figure out what it was. The literature of AA and other 12 step recovery programs has much to say on the topic of resentments/anger. This is because it is a very real energetic block in our achieving emotional sobriety.