Addiction is insidious. Addiction destroys and takes everything in its wake. If you have battled with addiction or know someone who has then you know what drugs and/or alcohol have done to you or those you love. You can feel it, you can see it, and you have witnessed the aftermath throughout your entire life.
But what about process addictions?
Process addiction(s) are those addictions to an activity or process, such as gambling, eating disorders, food addiction, spending, sex, and work. Process addictions also include addictive/compulsive behaviors such as negative, self-sabotaging beliefs, anger and other self-limiting thought patterns.
People sometimes have difficulty accepting these behaviors as addictions. They think that you should be able to simply stop the compulsive behavior. However, process addictions can be as debilitating and difficult to overcome as are addictions to substances such as drugs and alcohol.
One the best definitions of addiction I have come across comes from Tommy Rosen – Addiction Recovery Expert, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Author and Founder of Recovery 2.0
“Any behavior that you continue to engage in despite the negative consequences that the behavior leaves in its wake. If you are not addicted to The Big 5 – drugs, alcohol, food, sex or money; Then you might be dealing with what I call The 4 Aggravations: Resentment, Negative Thinking, Self-Doubt and Procrastination. These “less harmful” addictions sap us of our energy, cause lots of damage and must be faced in order for us to live a life of fulfillment and to heal ourselves and the world.” – Tommy Rosen
Why Am I Writing About Addiction?
Addiction has hit so many people I love in my life and I can guarantee that you know someone or you personally have been challenged with addiction.
I am a woman in long-term recovery. I am also the mother of an adult child addict. This is a journey that, although I would never choose, I am grateful for the gifts it has given to me. Through the deep depths of my despair through my own journey and now as a mother witnessing how addiction has broken the spirit of my oldest child, I made the choice of Recovery and it is my sincerest Hope and Wish that leading by example can help my child as well as others by sharing a bit of my story!
There comes a point in recovery when we are faced with those demons, those issues, feelings and emotions and unfinished business that was part of the catalyst that drove us to addiction in the first place.
Whether the addiction is alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, etc., underneath all the chemicals and addictive behaviors is a spirit crying to be heard, to be listened to and to be healed.
A heart that feels broken, tattered, tired, torn and beaten down. I remember telling my therapist back in the day, “My Soul just feels so tired, so weak and broken.”
I stepped into therapy back in 1998 but I did not maintain and take my sobriety seriously until the summer of 2003. I had several relapses (alcohol and pills being my drugs of choice) and I know that is because I didn’t truly connect to those feelings, emotions, and issues so I could face them, release them and heal them. Once I made the commitment to healing my heart and soul did my sobriety become consistent and now long term.
I finally had enough and I was in enough pain to finally do whatever it took to heal and stay sober!
This does not mean that I am all healed 100%. Living a sober, happy and fulfilled life still has Dark Nights of the Soul, up’s, down’s and everything in between. I will say this, it does get easier over time and the more we work our sobriety, the more we work on our self-healing, we learn how to handle those painful parts of life that we will inevitably face from time to time.
Pain is a part of life.
Suffering is Optional! This is a lifelong process and journey. A journey I am proud to walk through with Love in my heart and my Driving Force!
“The key to moving through your own dark moments is Finding Your Lamp in the Darkness!” – Jennifer Seitzer
Awareness can become the first light you begin to see. Awareness can be your Lamp.
Awareness is key. Becoming aware of our feelings and emotions and where they are rooted from and not be afraid or angry with them is a great step forward. The feelings we feel are there for a reason.
Feelings are not wrong, stupid, or childish. What we do with them and how we handle them is vital to our emotional, physical and spiritual health and most importantly, our recovery and preventing a possible relapse.
Once we become aware, there is no going back. There is no going back to the old way of doing, being and living as we once did. We may want to because it is all we have ever known, and we may try but I will say this; this is a recipe for relapse.
That is exactly what happened to me more times than I can count but as I said above. I had had enough and was in enough pain to finally pick myself up, brush myself off and face my demons square in the face. I was on my quest to find my lamp.
This is the beginning stages of renewing the mind. Shifting from stagnant, old, outdated and destructive self-limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs. One way I have done this is through what is called Emotional Rescue. Here is the process I learned many years ago and still apply it today to help me through my dark nights of the soul.
- The first question to ask yourself when emotions arise is “What am I feeling?” Begin journaling to identify your emotions. If you are not used to recognizing your emotions, the answer may begin with ” I don’t know”. That is okay, keep writing because eventually, you will unlock that door you have so well kept hidden for so long.
- Try locating the specific area in your body where the emotion is coming from. Check your head, shoulder, throat, chest, heart, or stomach. Notice the areas that are and are not feeling the emotion. Again, write this in your journal and take note of where in your body you are feeling tension, stress or pain. Meditation and learning to open your Chakras are wonderful ways to release blocked and pent up feelings and emotions and finally allowing yourself to feel your feelings freely and openly.
- Try asking yourself, “What feelings am I not expressing?” If this is still too difficult, then ask yourself, “If I knew what I was feeling, what would it be?” If you are creative then create a collage filled with images of what you may be feeling. If your feelings were an animal, place, or song, what would it be? Feelings are by their very nature unclear, vague, and foggy and most of the time, feelings are not ‘logical’, they just are, so sit with this for about 5-10 minutes and allow yourself to be with what is still unknown.
- Now that you have uncovered the emotions that had formerly been stored or repressed, really take a look at them. Do not analyze and criticize. Do not judge yourself, blame yourself, or tell yourself that you “shouldn’t” feel this way or that way. Look at them objectively, and tell them (the feelings) and tell yourself that it is okay to feel this way.
Remember, this is a process and opening up to your hidden and repressed feelings take time. In the beginning, it may feel like a flood of emotion that has no end in sight, but as the pressure of unexpressed emotions releases, you will feel lighter. You will not cry forever. The anger will not keep on exploding forever. The pain will not go on forever. Learning to gently and compassionately be with what you are feeling allows healing to occur.