The funny thing about life lessons is that we keep repeating them, until we grasp the answers. Addiction is a lesson. The lesson for me was forgiveness, acceptance, finding self, and working through the pain. We all get bruises while growing up. The idea is that we learn how to function in the world at large. When going through the lesson of addiction, we wrap our thoughts around ourselves. We look at the world through filters that show us that it’s everyone else that is doing “something” bad to us. We forget, or never learn, that we have a choice. We can stay in the abusive and addictive relationships with other people, or leave. . .
I think the hardest part is the shame I felt for not being perfect. I thought I could never get it right. . .but whose definition of right? I believed that I could not make a mistake, or I was a bad person. . .a failure, and I let other people down. I was not dependable, therefore, I was not worthy. With addiction, we look outside ourselves for self-worth. Our lives revolve around making other people happy, and, if they are not, it is our fault. It is a cycle that is difficult to see outside world. We are too ashamed of being sub-standard, that we feel we deserve being treated poorly. . .
So, how do we grow beyond the pain of addiction? First we should ask – how do we realize we are trapped in the cycle of addiction?
After I hit rock-bottom, I fell further. I married an abusive man, because I was afraid he would kill me if I left. I was so confused! Even today, I clearly remember the day he grabbed me by the wrists, and slammed me against the wall with a look in his eyes that he was going to kill me. I kept my head, and talked him down from his rage. Then in true abuser form, he wanted to hug me, profusely apologizing for his actions. It would never happen again. . .right. . .
I escaped the marriage after 6 1/2 years. He thought it would be better if we split up. I escaped with my life, which was very good news for me. . .
I’ve come to believe that addiction is like a religion. It is a powerful belief system, that takes the place of spiritual or religious beliefs. There are a set of unspoken rules that all the players need to know. Each person develops their own rituals for dealing with it, that stays within the rules, and doesn’t rock the boat. These coping skills cover-up the feelings, fear and anger. Most of the time, the players never learn what real emotions are, and are living in the world without the proper set of tools to function well in society.
I started asking the question – what’s wrong with me? – in college. I think I was fortunate enough to have a positive experience in high school, and I connected with something larger than the belief system I grew up with. Through out my life, I escaped into my music, and creative processes. These were the two things that kept me sane. Though I didn’t learn self-respect, I did learn to respect others. I don’t know if it was because of fear or my own lack of self-worth. I did learn to be terrified of authority figures, and that they were ALWAYS right.
I’ve grown beyond the pain by finding a better belief system. I believe in a Creator, instead of the bottle. I’ve come to understand that God does not make junk! So logically, if the Creator (God) made me, I must not be junk. I changed that paradigm, and added that I was tired of feeling bad about myself. There are too many beautiful places in the world for me to be locked up into a painful place feeling worthless.
It starts with the decision to change, because _____________ (fill in the blank with what is important). Then, it is followed by courage, bravery and action. . .
Love & Light to All. . .Karen