We all have a Hero’s Story! We have all overcome a pain, so great in our life, that we believe we’ll never push through. But we do, don’t we? We’re here today!
I believe we are sometimes suffering because of our delusion of reality. Often, I struggle with the belief that I can truly function in this world without a numbing agent. I have somehow convinced myself that the person God created me to be cannot live my reality in REAL time. I must taint it, distort it, and alter it! I am much more comfortable in a mind-altering existence.
We are all seekers! Seeking love, connection, and happiness. We seek, and sEEK, and SEEK until some of us reach that precipice where we just cannot get enough pleasure. The more we get, the more we want! There just won’t ever be enough! I relate this to “chasing a buzz”. I always thought that the more I drank, the better my buzz! I would hit that perfect high and then selfishly want even more! I would do just about anything to satisfy this insatiable craving! As addicts, we have this attachment to pleasure. We are always trying to recreate the pleasurable moment we get with those first 2 glasses of wine, etc. This is the phenomenon of craving. We are bouncing back and forth between trying to recreate pleasure and avoiding pain. Seek Pleasure- Avoid Pain! It’s a never-ending loop. And then the next morning comes too quickly, and I depressingly think. “When will I be done with all of my manipulation, control, secrets, and antics? Am I done looking outside for happiness and ready to turn my gaze INWARD”? We cannot know peace, acquire a sustainable recovery, or gain freedom until we break this cycle. It’s a pattern in the brain that must be broken.
This past year has taught me to just BE more- live more, in the present. Let go of the unnecessary! We are always working, in life, towards a future outcome. I’m doing this, to get that. If I work on this, I’ll eventually receive that. We’re never satisfied with the NOW. And because we’re never satisfied, we engage in addictive behaviors. We feel that we aren’t enough. We don’t have enough. So we start taking from the outside world to feel sufficient. We constantly have to seek escape. Maybe it’s that we’ve lost our sense of safety, our sense of self. We don’t trust the world, and we’re fearful of it.
Maybe we didn’t get the intimacy we needed as a child. We are born into the world fairly “light” and unburdened. But then early on (maybe it was a mother’s depression, a father’s anger, an unpredictable family environment) we acquire emotional baggage from those closest to us. In our youth we are open, receptive, and true to oneself. We are like sponges and soak up behaviors, emotions, and feelings that we observe all around us. We learn coping mechanisms when the burden of all this outside stimulation becomes too much for us to process. When our toxic environment becomes too much for us to handle, we find ways to escape. Later in life, these coping strategies become harmful and unnecessary, but it wasn’t unnecessary at some point in our lives. This behavior kept us safe, it was necessary to our survival. This addictive behavior allowed us to cope with dysfunction and, in a way, the addiction kept us alive. Addictions aren’t mistakes, they’re ways of easing our pain.
Addiction has its roots in unresolved trauma. It is unprocessed emotional discomfort. There was trauma. A feeling of pain. Maybe feeling different than others- not fitting in. Something lead us to believe that we were not good enough. And then we continuously begin running these programs in our heads that are self-sabotaging.
In my case and with my alcoholism, I often think I wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed my wine every night and would, more often than not, finish off a bottle…maybe even open a second. And, this is a very dangerous place to be!!! A place where I am teetering on the edge of listening to, and agreeing with, that devil of the disease taunting me. Tapping me on the shoulder and whispering sweet nothings in my ear of oblivion granted in just one sip. Maybe my whole life has not imploded. I haven’t hit rock bottom, haven’t lost everything…but my behavior and drinking habits always consistently harmed those closest to me. And, I would walk around with the dark shadow of shame and guilt following me everywhere- two of the most toxic and depressing feelings that can weigh a person down.
I am discovering that in addiction, something is missing in our lives. I only need to accept and own where I am NOW! Let go of my resentments, illusions, and expectations. My thoughts can get me into trouble. Addiction comes from emotional pain and trauma. You adopt a behavior that soothes the pain temporarily; and then that behavior becomes a habit; and then this habit becomes destructive.
My goal ALWAYS when I write about this vulnerable topic is to draw attention to this deadly epidemic! Recovery for alcoholics is still kept secret, hush-hush! Recovery from addiction still has a stigma attached to it, full of secrecy and shame. Children, teens, adults are dying daily from this disease and my heart breaks! WE need to put a positive spin on sobriety! Addiction is REAL! It’s DEADLY!
We addicts were in a place of darkness but are working our way toward the light. We come into recovery from a place of desperation. We stood at the precipice! I have stood facing it many times…which path will I take? While drinking, our life could be so painful, and yet we didn’t know how else to live. If I decide to take that drink, my life will be turned upside down and changed forever. The temptation is always there, I just have to decide if the temporary pleasure is worth the pain. When is that defining moment when we have to surrender and make a change?
Addiction is looking for weakness. It is looking for an imbalance in mind, body, and spirit. It’s always looking for a way in! We create this “theater of war” inside our mind and body. I became disconnected from people and myself. The amount of suffering in addiction is shattering. To see someone you love hurt themselves is heart-wrenching! The problem is worse today than it has ever been. Why is it so hard to solve this problem? Because addiction attacks us at 4 levels: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Time. We must treat addiction on all of these four levels, if we ever want long-term recovery.
First and foremost, addiction attacks us at the MIND level. It is seeded in the mind. Our thinking is plagued, and our mind turns against us. It is a brain disease and rewires our neural biology. At the BODY level, there is an obvious immediate insatiable physical craving, once the substance enters our bloodstream. But with management of breath, stress, sleep, and fueling the body with the right diet and nutrients- the body can recover. Addiction affects the SPIRIT through our connection to each other; and our connection to Love, to God, and to our Breath. Addiction separates us from everything and everyone. Once it gets us alone- isolation is where addiction thrives. And finally, where we focus our thoughts in TIME can perpetuate addictive thinking. If we are stuck in the past or obsess about uncontrollable events in the future, we will be forever stuck in fear and anxiety. If we can identify with the PRESENT moment, we can have PEACE. This is where the phrase “One Day At A Time” makes perfect sense.
Tommy Rosen, a great teacher of mine in sobriety has said, “Look outside- become a victim, look inside- become a master.” The solution to addiction has to come from within. We invest too much energy into things that don’t bring us to the PRESENT. For instance we play the victim by saying to ourselves, “Well if this particular thing hadn’t happened to me in the past, then I would be much happier now”. But I must claim my past, not blame my past! Or on the other end of the spectrum, we are living too much for the future. Always living for tomorrow, thinking tomorrow holds a promise that today doesn’t have.
When you stop drinking or taking drugs, this is just the beginning. It becomes an invitation to become your highest self. You begin a journey of self discovery. I can become compassionate with myself and allow myself forgiveness on this new path. You learn to live without hiding. This becomes The Hero’s Story– you become your own hero! I do not need to hide anymore. I learn to live without running away from myself. I still may be uncomfortable in my own skin, but I learn to be comfortable in my uncomfortableness. I am proud of my sobriety- and it can be so empowering!
I am learning how to lead with my heart instead of my head. Rolf Gates, a yoga teacher and author states, “The Mind Screams, But The Heart Whispers.” Fall in love with the subtle. Find Stillness. Find Quiet. Just BE with yourself without having your Ego get in the way. Trust Your Struggle! See the dignity in it! See the humbleness in it! No more pretending to be what we’re not! Addiction is a turning point to something. I must answer the call of my Destiny. I can be available for the experience of living. I am a work in progress, and I am on a path of healing.
Are we coming from a place of gratitude? How are we going to meet the challenges of life? I hope with courage, with spirit and light, and with grace. Do NOT give up, we have to go after this thing everyday. It takes strength to sacrifice! We can have compassion because we have suffered.
Let us also transition from FEAR to LOVE. Stop building a “story” and emotional baggage around our mistakes. Acknowledge this frame of thinking…Why did I beat the hell out of myself today? Notice that I am uncomfortable, and then make the action to shift. Just a subtle shift. What needs to come is the death of “the story” we play in our heads. The death of the limited self, and of the lies we’ve told ourselves. My life is NOT A THREAT. Just try to Follow Bliss. Find My Radiance. Seek Joy!
For many of us, months and years were wasted while we passively hid from life with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc. But we are breathing new life today! Recovery offers us, daily, the opportunity to participate in the adventure of life. It offers us the opportunity to share our talents and our special gifts with those we share precious moments of time with.
Maybe we can learn to just relax. Savor THIS moment. Stop trying to fill it up. Relish the void- the void of indecision, the void of fear. It’s that magical place from which all creation arises. Breathe the air, look at the flowers, feel the sun! We need to nurture the quiet places in our souls. We should try to fill our thoughts each day with all that is harmonious and good, beautiful and enduring. To heal and recover, we must connect with our breath, with other human beings, and with love. We must seek harmony, humility, and peace of mind. We must walk our path of truth. But we must also take notice when we’re having a difficult moment. BE upset, BE mad, BE sad, and GRIEVE with everything that you have! THAT is being present!
Am I content to face the rest of my life without alcohol? I don’t know! I can’t answer that vast question. All I know is that I can live without alcohol, today. I can live without alcohol for this next hour. Can I make the “Great Decision” once and for all? Or, will I surrender as gracefully as possible to the inevitable…that drink WILL come again. But, I can only hope I have no more reservations. I truly hope that nothing could happen to me now that would justify my taking a drink. I desperately need to trust in the freedom at the other end.
Acceptance and surrender- these acts are not tidy packages. Often it is a package full of hard feelings- anger, rage, and sadness followed by release and ultimately relief. We come to the core of the pain and sadness, the heavy emotional burden inside that must come out before we feel good. These emotions are connected to healing. And, surrender sets the wheels in motion.
Let’s all dare to live fully, just for today! When we withdraw from life, we stunt our growth. None of us will pass this way again… what we see and feel and say today, in this moment, will soon be gone forever. We have so much to regret when we let things slip away unnoticed or unappreciated.
And, let’s not overlook the wonder of the ordinary! Too often the extraordinary and the amazing are glorified daily in the movies, news, and social media. Our senses become bombarded. We become addicted to DRAMA, to the number of LIKES on Facebook or Instagram. The only things that now get our attention are the big, catastrophic events. And often we see only what we choose to see. We hear selectively, too. Our prejudgement precludes our getting the full effects of any experience.
Take a closer look at your life, your everyday world, and the people and activities in it. If it were all taken from you in one unexpected moment, what would you miss- what sights, what sounds, what smells? Would you miss the view from your kitchen window? The smell of coffee brewing in the morning? Your dog’s unconditional love? The sounds of the city or your children’s laughter? Would you wish you could see or hear or feel that “something” one more time? Look closely at the ordinary in your life. Be grateful for how beautiful the ordinary really is!
When temptation strikes- as it often will this coming year, I need to remember that before recovery, I had little choice and even less freedom. I was viewing the world with tunnel vision. Everything I did had to be set up to meet the demands of my compulsion. Try as hard as I possibly could, I could never prevent the consuming urge and obsession of my addiction. This very powerful insatiable force took over all of my waking hours. My life was controlled by my selfish desires! There was a constant need to bow to the demands of my addiction. It made all of my decisions for me. It determined my happiness and dictated my role in the world- to be a small, secretive, miserable shell of myself. It smothered my soul and left huge gaping holes in my heart. There was absolutely no freedom from it and only a small bit of happiness at the very best. Addiction enslaved me, but recovery will liberate me!!!!
SHE NEEDED A HERO, SO THAT’S WHAT SHE BECAME.
Peace, Love, and Happiness!!!