This has been a really tough week for many of us as we suffer through another tragic and senseless loss of seventeen lives in a school shooting.

It hurts to an indescribable level.

It angers and saddens and enrages and throws every “normal” emotion into a crazy overdriven frenzy. I struggled so much to put my feelings into words this week and it took days to get even a sliver of something intelligible. Everything was so intertwined that discerning one emotion and thought from the next was impossible.

Complete and total chaotic overwhelm. I was filled with noise, the kind that makes you feel like you could drown in it if you stay there too long.

My default is to fight the chaos by crowding it out. When I took alcohol and food off of the table as numbing agents, distractions became my new drug. Do more things. Stay busy. And by busy, I don’t mean productive, literally just doing something, normally to undo it and start all over again. Unchecked, I’ll create more mental mayhem to distract me from what I don’t want to deal with. Nothing gets resolved and, usually, it all ends with a grand crash.

It’s times like this that I am so grateful for my recovery path. I am grateful for what I learned through my program, my peers, and my support network. I don’t have to live in that cycle. They taught me that while everyone hurts, that’s life, no one was born to suffer.

I had to say no to a lot of things this week. Not angry no or defeated no or no, I’m sorry. Just, no, I don’t have space for that right now.

No, sweetie, I’m not going to turn up the radio. Why don’t we enjoy some quiet for a little while, okay?

No, I’m not going to brunch after yoga but I really appreciate that you invited me.

No, I’m not going to do extra work right now because I need this time to be with my family.

I gave all of that noise and emotion and mental commotion space. Instead of fighting, I let it breathe. I listened to it. I prayed and meditated and cried and shouted and grieved.

If you are feeling overwhelmed too, I encourage you to invite it in. Get to know those big feelings; show them love and compassion and understanding. Love them and let them heal.

As you are reaching inward, don’t be afraid to reach out too. We are all in this together.