Day 54. Let’s talk about addiction. How we got there, and why. And what we can do about it.
Consider how many forms of addiction exist in our society. There are the obvious, common addictions such as drugs (like alcohol), yes, but think about all the other forms of addiction we practice. The array of addictions is vast, including pornography, gambling, prostitution, video games, social media, shopping, sex, caffeine, exercise, working too much, plastic surgery (yes, that’s really a thing!), food addictions, hoarding, collecting too many pets (think Cat Lady), religious fanatics…you get the idea! It all starts innocently enough. We find something that draws us in, and we go for it. We like the way it feels, and we continue doing it. Maybe it makes us happy (at first), maybe it satisfies a need, maybe it gets us out of our head. We turn to our form of addiction when we want to escape whatever our mind is focusing on, likely something we experienced during the day, maybe a loss, or a painful memory from the past, financial worries that scream at us – something that creates stress of one sort or another. We train ourselves to turn to our addiction when something happens that sets us off on a course of anxiety or discomfort. We seek the familiar by returning to our addiction in order not to deal with whatever is too terrifying to face. Over and over again. And then we start sliding down the slippery slope of addiction. We try to stop doing this “thing”, but we just can’t. And we keep doing this even though the evidence of its negative impact on our lives is right in front of us. We look away. We procrastinate. We avoid. We become more addicted. Maybe there is damage to our relationship. Maybe our finances are taking a big hit, creating massive debt. Maybe our health is being affected, or our work. No doubt our family is suffering in some way because of our addiction. I venture to bet that most of our society has one form or another of addiction. How about our smart phones, our addiction to staying plugged IN? I have a variety of addictions myself. Not proud.
How do we navigate the muddy waters of addiction? How can we rid ourselves of our dependency on habits that are destructive? First, we have to pull down the covers and take a peek at what is underneath. The why. Why do I feel like drinking after a crazy stressful day? Easy! I want peace. I want relief. I want the “relax and chill” effect. I want to let it all go, escape from my mind, quiet the chatter, feel that sense of euphoria that takes me away from reality for a spell. Maybe I am in a new social situation, or at a business related function, and I want to let go of my inhibitions. I want to feel self confident, not feel stiff and self conscious. I want to feel smart, or fun, or loose, or silly, fearless, or just real.
Tackling our emotions is hard. Dealing with past wounds and traumas is no fun. Who wants to revisit feelings that recreate fear, maybe even a sense of terror? Nobody that I know. But personally, sitting with my uncomfortable feelings is truly the only way I can begin to understand them, so I am learning to do that. I am getting more and more curious about the things that trigger me in others, because I know they are shadow (hidden in my sub conscience) aspects of myself. Growth is the hardest thing ever, but it is also the most rewarding thing ever. Addiction keeps us from growing. It keeps us stuck at a certain level of maturity, of development. Addiction is our escape from facing the reality of our circumstances, our lives. Once we pull down those covers and peek at what is hiding underneath, when we start excavating the numerous layers of thick outer coverings that hide our soul, the layers of our own personal onions, that is there we find our spirit, our essence, our beauty, our gifts. This is a journey for heroes, those who want to experience the highest level of living, the peak, the top of the mountain. It is how we are all meant to live, where we are all meant to hang out together, with trust, and love, and connection, and joy.
My life has included a variety of healing work that brings me an incredible sense of satisfaction and great pleasure. I have enthusiastically volunteered with a powerful international women’s organization that focuses on healing traumas and abuse that way too many women experience throughout their lives. I have donated my time to make a difference in the lives of women who have suffered, and I have experienced deep healing within myself on these many weekends and week-long workshops. I find more happiness than I can express when I help to create a space, a safe container, that becomes a platform that invites us all to share our most vulnerable selves. That’s how we heal, by sharing ourselves and feeling heard, accepted, and loved despite what we call our flaws. My circle of women say “ALL of you is welcome here”. That pretty much sums it up.
I also have volunteered for Hospice for several years by facilitating a group called “One Year to Live” which focuses on living a full life whose goal is ultimately to come to the grand final, the end of life, with no regrets. As a group, we share and examine many aspects of our lives, leading to the acknowledgement through discussions, journaling, meditating, introspection and sharing, that we have a myriad of things we never said, or did, or made happen. Then we realize we still have time. We aren’t dead yet, so there is time to write that letter, say those words, forgive that person, change that bad habit, reach out to that special someone, start something new, travel to that destination we have been yearning to see, experience that new creative endeavor, put those affairs in order, declutter that messy room, get those living trusts in order, clean some things up – you get the idea. It’s very impactful to those who participate, even changing lives sometimes in incredible ways. It becomes a magical journey of realizations, reconnections, forgiveness, inspiration and ultimately, deep healing.
So here I am, on perhaps the biggest healing journey of my life, right where I am meant to be. I am bursting with anticipation of what’s to come, where this will take me. I have a powerful yearning to make a difference in the world. I love to connect with like minded souls who are on similar paths, to discover my tribe, or create a new one. We are so very fortunate to be living as we do in the 21st century, despite the crazy mess of a world we have collectively created. There is always unfairness, and destruction, and gloom. Look at Mother Nature, and how her fires, and hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis can destroy whole populations in a flash. How about the animal kingdom? Is it fair that the ant exists only to labor painstakingly, endlessly, throughout its short life? Picture the pitiful ant, on a mission to carry a tiny but delectable cookie crumb three times larger than itself, marching along like a determined backpacker with way too heavy a load, destined for the sacred ant farm to present its gift to the queen. Suddenly, in the flash of an instant, the poor little sucker gets swooped up, only to suffocate in a sticky, miserable spider’s web, to be eaten by a huge eight-legged monster. Nothing really is fair, but everything serves a purpose. Our wounds and traumas happened, yes. Our lives may have included some pain. Maybe a whole lot of pain. But now here we are, together as humans with just one precious life to live, one chance to make the best of it. Let’s not let addiction screw it all up. Let’s choose to pause when we feel uncomfortable. Let’s ask what’s underneath those covers, what is hiding for fear of being seen, acknowledged, discovered? Let’s get really brave and step out of our comfort zone, be vulnerable, take the risk, share the story, get naked and expose our soul. The rewards will be astounding, and totally worth it. I’ll see you at the top of the mountain!