While doing my stint at the mental health hospital in Atlanta, we were required to attend a nightly meeting — all seven nights per week. We had our choice of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, or Emotions Anonymous. Emotions Anonymous and Al-Anon only met once per week, the others daily. So, five days a week, I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the other two days I attended the Emotions Anonymous (EA) and the Al-Anon meetings. At first, I was very uncomfortable in the AA meetings, but soon realized that people with alcohol addiction suffered from many of the same feelings as I did — they just drank to kill the pain and I isolated. I must say, I wished that the EA meetings had met nightly; I thoroughly enjoyed these meetings. Upon leaving the hospital, I looked for an EA meeting close to me, but there wasn’t one available. I do believe that if I had been able to continue these meetings it would have helped in my recovery. I have since thought about starting EA meetings in my hometown, but, just like so many other things in my life, I have only thought about it. I think I may need to start thinking about it again.
In these EA meetings, members merely share with each other. Each meeting is opened by those in attendance reciting The Serenity Prayer. While it is not required, we then tell parts of our stories that we are comfortable in sharing. The first couple of weeks, I just sat and listened. I can’t remember now what I finally shared, but I do remember the feeling of freedom I felt after the meeting. It truly is good to hear others talk about things that you think only happen to you – it’s just another way for us to realize that we are not alone.
I know I had heard The Serenity Prayer before, but I don’t think I’d ever paid attention to it. To me, it had been just some more words. These words came to mean everything to me while in the hospital. In addition to reciting this at the EA meetings, each night before lights out, we had a house meeting in which we talked about how our day had gone. We also had the opportunity to share anything that we had “learned about ourselves” that day. At the close of this meeting, we formed a circle, joined hands, and again recited The Serenity Prayer. After leaving the hospital, I moved in with my sister for a while and the first purchase I made before moving into my house was a framed print of this precious prayer. I no longer say this nightly. I’m not sure when or why I stopped, but maybe it’s time for me to begin doing so again.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Here’s a bit about EA.
What is Emotions Anonymous?
The EA membership is composed of people who come together in weekly meetings for the purpose of working toward recovery from emotional difficulties. EA members are from many walks of life and are of diverse ages, economic status, social and educational backgrounds. The only requirement for membership is a desire to become well emotionally.
The first group of what is now Emotions Anonymous met on April 13, 1966, at the Merriam Park Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group was started by Marion F., a 55-year-old woman, after seeing a newspaper article that suggested the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous could be used as a tool for recovery from emotional illness. There are currently over 300 weekly meetings that take place throughout the United States and over 600 world-wide.
EA believes in ‘take what you like, leave the rest” – you accept what works for you. All anonymous’ programs are based in spirituality, not religion. Your personal “Higher Power” can be whatever you choose, outside of yourself.
Emotions Anonymous 12 Steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over our emotions, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (I kind of like the idea here of promptly admitting when I am right about something, also.)
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any of the many other emotional-based problems, you may want to give EA a try. You can do a search to see if EA meetings are available in your city.
For further information about Emotions Anonymous, click the picture below.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I find thinking about my days in the hospital to be quite calming. There was such a sense of safety there. I need to dig out my EA materials and start the 12 steps back over. I did not finish them. (No joke)
TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER: Not sure.