'The Little Book'
By Shari Schreiber,
I first decided to write about addiction, I said to myself; how
the heck can I produce an entire article, when a single paragraph
is all that's needed? I've wrestled with this for over three years,
which (regrettably) has had me dragging my feet about starting.
My 'writer's block' is a consequence of holding myself to unreasonably
high standards of performance (an ADD
thing). Essentially, I'm wanting to revolutionize how we think about
and go about ending addictions in a way that's congruent
with unconventional and unique healing work, which has always been
at the heart of my practice.
first, I've had to work really hard to get out of my own way and
lower my self-expectations, so I might adequately address
this topic. I'm thinking it'll keep growing and ripening like some
of my other materials, but here goes:
addiction is caused by suppression of feelings. If
we could learn how to Feel our emotions rather than judging or fearing
them, ALL addictions and recovery programs would literally cease
complicates this issue even further, is that letting go of a substance
or behavior that's helped us 'change the channel' when we've had
awkward or painful feelings, is like saying goodbye to an old friend
who's been the only truly reliable source of connection or comfort
we've ever known. In short, it's always been there
for us when we've had a need for relief~ so even just the thought
of letting go of that relationship, can trigger sensations of loss
is addiction, whether it's to alcohol/drugs, online social media,
sex or porn, gambling, exercise, eating, working, codependency or
scholastic/athletic over-achievement--and the same root causes and
recovery principles always apply, no matter what
your drug of choice is~ even if it's needing to be in a
relationship. Addiction's the ever-present nagging you feel to avert
feelings of depression, emptiness or deadness, and fill that gigantic
hole in your soul.
to popular belief, addiction is not about indulging in
a substance or behavior every day. It's about staying
dissociated or disconnected from feelings and sensations that help
you discern when you've worked-out, masturbated, drank
or eaten enough, and stopping before you get hurt, go numb or black-out.
you're willing to keep an open mind, this text should make sense
to the rational and intuitive parts of your brain, so self-destructive
compulsions can become a thing of the past.
addiction is actually a simple matter. Gaining self-acceptance,
and enough emotional growth to help you feel all your feelings
without censure, self-ridicule or self-judgment is where we must
begin. This journey isn't deprivation-based, because the moment
you're forbidden something, aren't you craving
it much more? Sure you are--it's only human! So once more,
you can't resist using--and once again, you beat yourself up for
it. This vicious cycle repeats over and over, until you're feeling
paralyzed, hopeless and ashamed~ and of course, needing (once more)
to self-medicate those awful sensations!
are really hard on themselves, so there's always a need to self-medicate
the pain that's self-inflicted when we shame ourselves, and that's
the vicious cycle of addiction. Addicts are always scanning
their inner terrain and beating themselves up for something.
If you began whacking yourself in the head with a baseball bat from
the minute you got up in the morning, how do you think you'd be
feeling at the end of your day? Wouldn't you have to alleviate
that pain--and how would you go about that?? More importantly,
who do you think originally taught you how to criticize,
shame and guilt yourself?? If you're thinking it was your parents,
you are absolutely right.
emotions represent facets of you. Running away from your difficult
feelings, means running away from yourself. You cannot
form and maintain a solid relationship bond with another, until
you learn how to have a healthy, nourishing, friendly bond with
any sort of addiction involves growing emotional muscles.
When you first start to feel the dark/difficult sensations
you had to repress or kill-off during childhood in order to survive
around your parents, and start to trust that they can't annihilate
you, emotional development's the inevitable outcome. Addictions
are eliminated when there's no longer a need to numb-out,
or run away from You. In short, feeling
brings about wholeness and Healing.
recovery programs such as 12-Steps, The Meadows, Betty Ford, etc.,
might scare you into getting sober, and help you gain some
insights as to how you got to this place, but they can't
help you get healthy, whole and well, to where
you're a fully functional, self-actualized, joyful and personally
successful being. No group endeavor can.
really the point of sobriety, if you're still struggling to make
your life work, and you're in such agony, you periodically want
to die? Why get sober, if all your relationship attempts
end up being disappointing and hurtful? Have you grown and healed,
or have you simply managed to stop using and self-medicating your
anguish? If it's the latter, you are not "recovering."
lot of folks relapse after going the rehab clinic route,
because their psychic pain cannot be well attended to within standard
recovery models, and neuro-chemical imbalances due to Axis I (clinical)
issues like Bipolar
Disorder and ADD,
can easily go undiagnosed/untreated. Given any type of
treatment modality, if we don't first balance brain chemistry,
no client can make use of even the most solid and
meaningful therapeutic intervention.
NOT JUST A BRAIN HOOKED-UP TO A LIFE-SUPPORT UNIT.
presently here, you've no doubt been thinking your
way through life, as opposed to feeling your way along.
That became your way to survive as a kid, but it's working against
you as an adult.
known some brilliant individuals who've continually thirsted for
insight, thinking this will somehow mitigate their inner despair.
They literally believe their 'recipe for happiness' is buried within
the chapters of the next self-help book they read, or that some
kind of new-fangled quick-fix venue they've tried, will bring relief
from their pain. Happiness is incrementally acquired.
It's an inside
job that requires steady, diligent commitment to growth and
healing each day of your life, and 'baby steps' are what get you
early psychic and emotional wounding damages the physical body,
but Wellness has to be a conscious choice. Your mind, body and spirit
all work together in concert. They must be on the same
page and in harmony, or the symphony of your Life goes awry.
colleague and I were good pals for many years. She's slightly more
than a year older than I (and a Borderline
with gobs of unhealed childhood trauma). Each year, she'd
exclaim that her body was "falling apart," and warn me
that mine would betray me too; "Just wait till next
year" she'd always say, "you'll see that everything
changes when you turn (fifty, sixty, etc.)!" Well, I'm still
fit as a fiddle, and happy I worked hard on my inside stuff,
so my outside's holding up fine. It's not about vanity. It's about
true inner harmony and peace.
probably become aware of some redundancies in this material. You'll
be absorbing this information on different levels of your consciousness,
and repetition helps with that. No book editor would let me get
away with this, but if you can't 'hear' these concepts repeated
in slightly different ways, you can't absorb and integrate them--and
that's what's necessary for real change to occur. Some
old 'files' inside you may get moved or reorganized as you start
to get the hang of this groundbreaking approach to addiction, because
long-standing (faulty) beliefs are being challenged and altered.
CANNOT DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS.
about now, you could be thinking; I've wrestled with really bad
feelings my whole life, and I've learned that they do me no good.
So now I just stay really busy, and I feel just fine! Wrong.
You are simply addicted to staying
"really busy" . . . but how are you tolerating the calm,
serene and quiet times??
truth is, you haven't felt those bad feelings--because
you couldn't! What's happened instead, is you've rushed up into
your head, analyzed those awful emotions and given
them reasons to be there! Before long, you were beating yourself
up for crimes you probably hadn't committed, and (surprise)
you felt a lot worse! Emotions reflexively became thoughts,
and you've never learned how to separate them. This bad habit you
adopted around the age of two years old when you'd finally gained
enough vocabulary to talk to yourself about your pain,
results in depression, fatigue and anxiety.
(people who compulsively run from their feelings) are addicted
to staying in motion by fixing, helping and rescuing others, because
when they run out of obstacles in their own life to keep
them busy, they look for victim-types who'll happily supply drama
and chaos to fill-up their intolerable
am not interested in hearing about the decades of "therapy"
you've had--or whether you've seen one clinician or twenty. If you're
reading this right now, it hasn't worked for you the way it should
yourself this; am I surviving--or am I thriving?
The two can't coexist, so if you haven't gotten beyond personal
or professional survival, there's some work to be done
here. Self-sabotage is inherent among addicts. The core
of this issue typically starts in infancy, and it's associated with
fear. How can you welcome an emotion like
joy, love, tranquility, etc., that you've never even experienced?
Anything that seems unfamiliar or foreign feels intimidating--and
it's natural to want to feel safe, especially when as a
child, you frequently needed to find a foxhole to hide-out in, to
escape chaos, drama or conflict in your home, to help you feel safer!
of my clients have a much easier time accommodating pain than pleasure.
It's the more familiar sensation to them, as they had to adapt and
adjust to it from infancy onward. Addicts tend to get triggered
to use once more as their pain starts to abate, because feeling
better produces anxiety.
goal of psychotherapy is to help you feel better. The goal
of healing work is to help you learn to feel Everything--so
you can become fully functional and whole. You can't accomplish
this on your own~ even though you've probably grown up assuming
you had to. Real recovery means learning
to trust somebody with your well-being and growth, and gradually
acquiring a rock-solid sense of Self.
ROOTS OF ADDICTION
of all, addiction is not
inherited. Depression, neurological and mood disorders can be passed
along genetically, and your folks learned dreadful ways of parenting
you from their parents~ but addiction itself, is
not "passed on" from one generation
to the next. Buying into this nonsense, has you continuing to make
excuses for yourself and remaining disempowered.
parents learned to self-medicate their anguish, and so
did you--in fact, given that children learn from example, your folks
inadvertently taught you what methods or substances to try first,
to flee awkward or painful events and emotions.
child has fundamental needs. When those needs are not responded
to, he/she experiences sensations like frustration, shame, despair,
sadness and rage. Since children have a limited capacity for reasoning,
they automatically assume it's their fault when requirements
for affection, soothing, comforting and support aren't being met--and
they grow skilled at shutting-down those important needs,
because it feels uncomfortable/bad to maintain them.
small child has the ability to recognize how messed-up his/her parent
is, and understand why that adult isn't capable of giving
them loving attention, support and praise. He automatically presumes
it's because he's not lovable, and spends the rest of his life trying
to convince himself it's not true, with various dysfunctional
partners, who can initially make him feel better about himself,
but who ultimately echo the punishing, abusive traits of his parent!
painful feelings get repressed in childhood, our emotional growth
is stunted. We grow up trying to function with a very limited number
of emotions, which hampers our capacity to react appropriately to
many life circumstances. That's when we turn to drugs, booze, sex,
food, etc., to cope with our difficult/awkward
experiences, and the sensations they trigger in us.
the simplest terms, if your parents held and soothed you, and helped
you learn to accept your feelings as a kid rather than
escaping or shutting them down, you would never have needed to numb-out
your discomfort with any substances or behaviors! Running from your
anguish was your only means of surviving life back then,
and you've found stellar ways to do that ever since. The trouble
is, they have harmed and derailed you.
of it this way; your feelings are like a bunch of colors in a Crayola
box. If you've decided to draw with only a third
of those crayons, the rest remain unused. So even though they're
waiting in that box, you've treated them like they don't exist.
Maybe you've favored only the warmer, brighter tones (red, yellow,
orange), while the cooler colors (purple, blue, magenta, dark green,
etc.) are ignored. All these hues represent parts of your actual
outcome? If you're drawing exclusively with only warm colors,
won't your pictures look somewhat monochromatic and uninteresting?
Well, that's exactly what's happened to your personality.
It's become predictable, one-dimensional and flat or boring, like
a cardboard cut-out of someone's image.
DARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL, AND OTHER BEASTIES
survival instincts have kept you alive and on this planet, but they
were learned throughout childhood--and they became reflexive/automatic.
When children experience psychic and emotional pain, they try hard
to understand and make sense of it. They'll ask themselves; why
am I feeling lonely, sad, empty, frustrated, etc.? Their siblings
might not be echoing those feelings, and neither are their
parents. Thus, this kid feels isolated/alone with these sensations,
and thinks something's wrong with him/her for feeling that
way! If this child tries to tell someone in his home about the feelings,
he's often made to feel wrong or bad for having them. His sadness
could be ridiculed or made fun of, or it's summarily dismissed by
the other family members, and toxic shame results~
but in truth, the family member who is cast as 'the black sheep'
is usually the healthiest and most sane of them all.
quickly, this ostracized kid learns that difficult sensations are
dangerous and bad, and begins suppressing them--because when he
doesn't, he feels worse!
first time you try sitting with your murky, terrifying, ugly feelings,
you may think you're gonna die, and you're afraid you won't--'cause
it's excruciating. Years ago, I named mine "The Dark
Nights of the Soul." Don't worry--I've got techniques that'll
help you get through these easier than I did, but you won't
like being there.
realized many years later, that what 'died' in me when I'd worked
up the courage to navigate my own dark tunnels was my long-held
compulsion to shove food in my mouth whenever I felt bad,
empty, sad, bored, frustrated, etc., ~and it radically altered my
most critical information you'll gain as you learn how to tolerate
these sensations, is that you will emerge alive! That's
right, those feelings won't actually kill you--in
fact, they're here to help you grow stronger, healthier and whole.
Now, you can finally start learning to trust that.
IS NOT JUST A RIVER IN EGYPT.
ago, I loved a 'recovering addict' who'd always told me, "if
my past girlfriends had only been this supportive and loving,
I could have accomplished anything!" In hindsight, I'm sure
his 'picker' was broken, and many of those women were Borderline
Personality Disordered. Distinct patterns emerged during our
relationship~ for one, I was all the things he said he
wanted, yet he suffered terribly from depression. I later came to
realize that without someone to demonize for his pain, he had to
confront his own demons. The lack of conflict
in our relationship brought him face to face with his own anguish,
dissatisfaction and self-loathing, and he could no longer blame
his feelings (and failings) on his partner! That reality spiraled
him into the depths of a full-blown mid-life crisis, and no amount
of shopping for things he couldn't afford (a transferred addiction
from alcohol 'sobriety'), could fix it.
is at the core of every person's attraction to
a personality disordered individual. Addicts feel a desperate need
to run from inner emptiness, self-loathing, depression and dissatisfaction.
Borderlines give 'em stellar opportunities to do that, as all the
drama, chaos and strife in that relationship distracts
them from their very own discontent and anguish, which is central
to why far too many individuals remain with impaired or toxic partners.
full recovery painful and scary? Yes, which is why you'll need a
little hand-holding and supportive guidance along the way. You're
used to restrictions in standard recovery models which
can feel imprisoning--but they also provide a sense of safety.
Certain breeds of dogs have to be 'crated' when you first bring
them home. This helps them feel safer, as they adjust to their new
surroundings. Getting healthier means gradually stepping outside
your comfort zone, which initially feels a bit unwieldy and unsafe.
may feel miserable, but it's familiar and therefore, more
comfortable than leaving that crate! This is why discharged inmates
frequently go back to jail. It's much easier getting 'three squares'
a day, than getting out into the world, and trying to support and
make a life for themselves.
might talk endlessly about what you really "want"--but
look around at what you have, because this reality is reflecting
your true desires, and Fear keeps you stuck here. Everyone's afraid
of something, but have you ever been able to trust someone
to help you navigate the scary parts of your life??
reference to core work and Self retrieval, here's the bottom
line: If you aren't willing to let yourself hurt, you won't tolerate
being helped, and you'll never be able to experience real joy.
Recovery is sort of like remodeling your kitchen--it always
seems worse, before it gets better. This stage doesn't last too
long, but it can feel destabilizing. The good news is, you are supported
every step of the way. The next tangible sign
of your recovery is noticing the absence of pain~
which I guarantee, will feel pretty uncomfortable at first.
BIRTH OF CODEPENDENCY
is an addiction. It's driven by the need to be needed, because our
sense of worth depends on it. This involves constantly
trying to give what we desperately need to get
for ourselves--but don't feel worthy of receiving. We learned this
mechanism in childhood, but it's left us with serious deficits and
obstacles that inhibit our capacity to love and be loved.
non-needing child has adapted, to make difficult feelings not
matter. He adopts coping mechanisms that help him put those
emotions away, or numb them out. He might go into his head to fantasize
about how it'll be different when he's grown and
can exert more control over life's circumstances. Other times, he'll
look around for a child who has it a lot worse
than he does, so he's able to feel better by contrast,
about his immediate pain or frustration. It's like the compulsion
people have to gawk at a freeway accident. It helps them feel thankful
for their loveless, passionless lives--but even that could
invoke survivor's guilt, which later on, can feel shameful.
learn to feel grateful for their anguish, because there's always
a sibling, friend or parent who's had "a rougher time."
The problem with this ideation, is one builds up an incredibly high
threshold for pain! Discomfort has to be excruciating to
gain their attention--but it still may not register, because compassion
is reserved exclusively for others, and never given
sensations of emptiness are experienced when we've discarded dark
or "unacceptable" feelings from our personality since
early childhood. When those sensations were treated as bad or
wrong by our parents, we regarded them precisely the same,
as we matured! In short, we harshly judged them (and ourselves)
as "bad" whenever they started to surface.
time these "bad" sensations (hate, anger, envy, frustration,
etc.) came up, we tried to make them go away, and called ourselves
on the carpet for having 'em. Life throws us curve balls, and our
feelings and moods can shift accordingly. If at anytime, you're
unable to feel nice, light, loving emotions, and all the darker
ones have been banished from your emotional repertoire, what the
heck is left inside to feel?? Only Nothingness or Emptiness!
addicted clients (recovering and otherwise) have described a dangerous,
nebulous sensation they could not identify--but have needed to escape
their entire lives. It's a sense of 'deadness' that threatens to
engulf them, if they don't get busy and run from it--or numb it
out with a substance or behavior.
comes easy. Happiness takes diligent work. You've always
been your worst enemy--but with whom do you spend the most time?
Recovery means learning how to be your best friend.
ME WHERE YOU ARE, AND I'LL KNOW WHERE YOU'VE BEEN.
the onset of my private practice internship many years ago, suicidally
depressed people were finding their way to my office. I was working
toward a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT) license back then,
and couldn't fathom why or how these people found me. After
all, I was only an intern!
this type of client kept showing up, I began trusting that a higher
power (God, The Universe, etc.) was funneling these folks my way,
because maybe I was equipped to help them. It truly seemed
the only way to make sense of this odd phenomenon. I should mention
here, that I'd reluctantly returned to academia at forty-one
with no sense whatsoever, that I'd stay long enough to get a degree
(much less, two). I'd always hated the discipline that schooling
required of me, and still do.
out, my life experiences had prepared me to assist these people
in a way that helped them--so I was flying by the seat
of my pants, and going mostly with intuition. Not all of them were
committed to recovering, but the ones who were, went on to build
productive, gratifying lives. In retrospect, beneath their addictions,
all these clients had a common denominator; they were core trauma
survivors--and to fill inner emptiness or deadness, each
was addicted to one thing or another. I never chose to
work with addiction, and I certainly didn't choose 'core trauma'
work as my area of specialization - it chose me.
believe each of us comes into this life with unique talents and
abilities. If we're lucky, these innate gifts are recognized, encouraged
and mirrored for us when we're young, so we can begin to
learn who we actually are. I was a late bloomer--but one of my
talents was understanding human nature, which got to advance and
grow, thanks to some challenging setbacks that forced me to get
intimately acquainted with myself.
is not the cause of your pain, or why life isn't working
as it should. Addiction is only a symptom of needing to
escape difficult, painful feelings that have been too dangerous
or scary to accommodate--whether they're bad, or good.
remarkable thing happens when I'm working with new clients. They
begin to see that it's not just 'negative' feelings that are scary
to feel--it's positive ones as well. When you've lacked
a frame of reference for feeling good, it's gonna
feel foreign and uncomfortable for you the moment you start to get
there, and you'll have a reflexive need to sabotage the
gains you've made.
decades, clients have asked me why healing doesn't come more quickly.
I've always responded by saying that if it did, it'd feel like they
were living inside someone else's body. They would literally feel
so destabilized by totally new and foreign feelings, there's no
way they could tolerate it! Change happens gradually, so
we've got some time to adjust to it.
involves growth. As a little girl I had horrible 'leg-aches' every
night in bed, presumably because my nerve structures couldn't keep
up with the rapid growth my bones were undergoing. It hurt like
crazy--but I'm tall and lanky. Growth must occur slowly,
or it's hard to handle (even when the payoffs are outstanding).
TWISTS OF FATE, SERENDIPITY AND DIVINE INTERVENTION
known for quite some time, that I'm only a conduit for healing,
and that far greater powers are guiding me in this work. Make no
mistake; I'm not a religious person by any stretch of the
imagination--but my spiritual bond is vibrant and unshakable. At
this point, a little background seems fitting.
twenty years of age, I wanted to kill myself. I was suffering an
emotional breakdown, and was in so much psychic pain, I just wanted
out. The details leading up to this aren't as salient
as the catalysts that led to my total loss of Self. My teenage years
were about having to be the perfect daughter for my dad
and his new third wife, with whom I'd had to live at age fourteen.
The newlyweds weren't bad people, but they knew nothing
about adolescent development--and for them, harsh discipline was
their recipe for keeping me 'in-line,' and helping me become a "responsible"
during a time when I was supposed to be forming an independent
Self, I was forced to surrender my burgeoning little autonomy, totally
to their will. If I behaved imperfectly, I'd be punished. Punishment
usually involved loss of freedom (already in short supply),
or docking my very meager allowance. I wasn't allowed to reveal/express
any disparate feelings during those times, or dire consequences
surely awaited. In short, I couldn't have any emotions that ran
contrary to what my parents wanted to observe, or there
was hell to pay. I quickly learned to bury my frustration, sadness
like you, I'd had uncertain, unstable beginnings. Life never felt
safe, normal or good--and when it did, the rug was yanked out from
under me. I needed to sense that I belonged, but now I'd
gotten thrown into a home life that was impossibly rigid/strict,
and my feelings about it weren't permitted. The upshot was, I suppressed
a whole lot of my emotions, because it wasn't safe for
them to be experienced or expressed. As a direct result, I developed
an eating disorder.
How else could I keep denying/shoving-down my feelings
and find any sense of solace, selfhood or control within that environment?
of the people I've worked with, were born
into these types of homes. They've had absolutely
no frame of reference for what it means to trust their instincts,
feelings and intuitions, having had to abandon them since
infancy. I wanted to die, after only six
years in that environment! I've known your pain, and
the horrific emptiness you've lived with for years, which
has driven your addiction to drugs/alcohol, eating, fixing/rescuing
compulsions, obsessive gym workouts, gambling, fighting--or even
fucking your way through inner deadness and despair.
the grace of God, I was able to find the help I needed when
I needed it, which launched my recovery and growth and gave
me a template for helping others. This didn't occur immediately.
I've spent many years plugging-up the holes in my boat, and that
brought me to where I am today. If you're still breathing, it's
not too late to start healing.
work always seems counterintuitive to clients, because it
challenges everything they grew up learning about how to survive--but
if their methods worked for them, they wouldn't be in this
pickle! This is transformative work, which (initially)
feels like 'boot camp' for the soul.
STEPS, THE DEVIL AND THE HOLY GRAIL
let anyone tell you, that you're "powerless"
against addiction! You can completely eliminate it--and
I've written this to show you how. This material is intended to
rattle a bunch of cages. If it doesn't, I've failed in my mission
to illuminate a path toward full recovery, where your addictive
impulses cease to exist.
a saying; The Devil you know, is better than the Devil
you don't. It's fear that keeps us circling the drain,
rather than trying something new that'll help us climb out of the
sink. Predictability is comforting somehow, even if it doesn't serve
us. That's just plain ol' human nature.
modalities having to do with 'sobriety' want you to surrender darker
emotions--but if you've been harshly judging those feelings since
childhood, and you're now told they're 'bad' and you shouldn't be
having 'em, aren't you needing to keep escaping
them somehow? You bet! So you just get yourself to another
AA meeting--and once again, you're running away from your very own
Anonymous is extremely helpful, but I think their greatest
benefit is providing a safe, welcoming environment, within which
you begin to forge trusted alliances, and can gain a sense of family
with kindred spirits. I think it's what keeps people going back
for years, decades or a lifetime. We seek what we never received
in childhood--even if it's just acceptance.
twelve-step sponsors urge you to "let go of your anger."
Apparently, they need you to magically dispose
of this normal, natural emotion which is inside
to activate you, ease depression, and help you feel vibrant and
alive. It's not that asking God to help you with various challenges
is wrong--but it can have you passing the buck, and side-stepping
your healing and growth.
may have a hand in the outcome, but we're responsible for
the action. If you've persistently given painful or difficult concerns
over to your deity to manage, you're not outgrowing
your addiction, you're out-sourcing it!
That's like expecting your parents keep supporting you financially,
while refusing to get a job. You'll likely remain a disempowered
adult who never feels safe or secure in your world, and you'll have
to numb those feelings out too!
suppression of feelings means denying or numbing them out, doesn't
this mean that fighting your addictive impulses will remain
a continuous battle, once you get sober? And what about all those
good folks who've transferred their alcohol addiction to
relationships, pastry, cigarettes--and
God knows what else, when they've given up the booze?!
RAGE? BRING IT HERE!
love working with angry people! The reason is,
their emotions are closer to the surface--and they don't judge their
rage. When someone can feel their emotions--even if it's
only anger, we're considerably ahead, in terms of their ability
to make faster progress and heal. For an addict, that's very good
trigger chemical changes in our physiology. When we're depressed,
we'll lack energy and impetus/motivation. When we're angry or enraged,
our body gets a big hit of adrenalin, which is activating and energizing.
We need these emotions to surmount dangerous/harmful situations,
and react to any emergency that comes our way. This is our fight
or flight mechanism, but for many of us, it was dismantled
and rendered useless during childhood.
who've amputated darker emotions out of their personality structure,
function as only half-people. Ever heard the phrase, "nice
guys finish last"?? Well, if at any given time, you can't
access emotions that are loving, bright, generous and spiritual,
and you've judged/discarded the other ones as bad or wrong--what's
left inside to feel? Again, nothingness!
Welcome to your core void. Core emptiness exists
inside you, because there are hundreds of important emotions that
you haven't allowed yourself to experience.
done extensive work with panic
& anxiety issues. Given that anxiety and panic are nothing
more than powerful feelings that can break through all emotional
controls we've put in place since we were kids, does it
make healthy, rational sense to "get rid" of anger--or
any feelings for that matter??
truth is, when we start learning how to experience our emotions,
we no longer have to escape them--and voila! Our need for
the addictive substance or behavior automatically vanishes. Your
'core void' shrinks too--which has driven your addictions in the
first place! When feelings begin to replace the awful emptiness
we've lived with inside, there's a marvelous sense of ease, aliveness
and wholeness that comes with being human and healthy.
this mean you'll never have a rotten, painful day? No. It means
you'll feel a new strength growing inside your core, which helps
you trust that you'll get through it, and this feels pretty
darned okay. Tomorrow, you'll probably feel lighter.
NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL.
should be seen, and not heard" sends the message to a kid that
he's no more important than a piece of furniture or a lawn ornament.
His feelings and needs don't matter to anyone, so he's just an object
to be looked at~ not related to. This kind of upbringing spawns
sensations of shame and unworthiness, which the child presumes he
is at fault for experiencing.
you had to figure out ways to put your sad/empty feelings aside,
to survive in your home environment. It was either that--or take
a dive off a tall building, or throw yourself in front of a speeding
auto. Far more children than you might imagine, commit suicide!
They can't understand their painful, darker feelings, and there's
nobody (safe) around to tell about 'em. Much of the time,
difficult emotions were treated as wrong by parents who've
found it inconvenient to have a frustrated, unhappy child
nearby, and made the kid "bad" just for having emotions.
Thus, the die was cast.
who dissociate from painful feelings in childhood, frequently become
and develop all sorts of ailments, such as cancers, migraine headaches,
anxiety disorders, heart problems, stomach or colon disorders, eating
disorders, obsessive-compulsive traits--and even, personality
you were intended to only have nice, light, generous and
cheerful feelings, wouldn't you have been created
without the ability to feel anything else? I guess you
haven't gotten around to asking God about that one, have
teachings want us to "turn the other cheek" when somebody
harms us, or violates our freedoms. They teach us to be passive
little lambs, even if that means being led to slaughter.
I say, horseshit!
type of organization would encourage you to passively stand by,
and idly observe your partner or child being hurt? Are you kidding??
But if you've been taught that anger is a bad feeling,
how can you muster any outrage if your loved one
is in danger? If someone threatened your kid, wouldn't you be doing
whatever it took, to protect him or her? Well, wouldn't
amazed, that most species of animals will fight to
the death to protect their young--yet this isn't always true
for humans. In fact, during the course of my career, I've become
convinced that many of us would have been much better off had we
been raised by wolves in the forest, rather than our parental units.
AND THE BORDERLINE PERSONALITY
we've unquestionably loved our parents--even if they were the source
of our pain, we have learned to accept that 'loving' comes with
anguish--and that became the relational blueprint from which all
our adult attachments have been built. In short, love equals
pain--and this pain must be mollified,
or how can we maintain our love affair? We have to escape the
bad parts, to hold onto the good ones--which drives overwork, substance
abuse, and/or a litany of acting-out behaviors, including
Borderline splits-off their darker facets from their lighter
ones, but this is not a characteristic that's exclusive to someone
who's personality disordered. The codependent rescuer/fixer
personality has acquired
this trait as well.
adopted this reflex in early childhood, when we had to separate,
compartmentalize or box-up the rageful, crazy, injurious parts of
our parent from their more normal/nourishing facets,
so we could stay attached to him or her. Every time that
box toppled off its shelf, banged us on the head and split open,
we scooped-up those nasty, hurtful contents that spilled out, and
stuffed them back in their box so we could feel close again--until
the next time it happened. This is precisely
what we do with a BPD partner.
want to overlook, excuse, forgive and forget every assault, indiscretion
and betrayal they've perpetrated on us, yet we don't cut ourselves
any slack. (Surely, we must have done something to provoke
them--hadn't we already learned that we were insignificant, unworthy
and unlovable from our folks??)
need for relief from self-flagellation
makes us return to the Borderline's poisonous well for another drink--no
matter how hurtful they are to us. Their abuse is easier
to take than ours when we're alone, for when we're beating-up
on ourselves, we can't defend against our attacker! Getting
sober means we must unlearn self-destructive
habits we formed as little kids.
your Borderline has split him/herself into black and white
all-good/all-bad, they do the same with you. As they cannot tolerate
'imperfect' traits in themselves, and have excised them from their
personality structure, how can they accommodate any of yours? Still,
you "love" them anyhow--even if it's spawned by a sense
of obligation (a moldy leftover from your childhood).
time their more favorable/desirable aspects show up, you think they're
here to stay--and determine that you must be the
insane one. This became your survival
strategy as a child, or you would have packed a knap-sack and taken
off on your own to survive on the streets at three or four! Sticking
around despite the pain, has been practical/logical from
a youngster's standpoint--but you're still doing it, and periodically
escaping inner pain, with your addiction of choice.
helplessness is a remnant from your painful childhood drama,
which is perpetually re-enacted, until you make up your mind to
AND OTHER DOGMAS THAT CAN BITE YOU ON THE FANNY.
While Buddhism promotes the
belief that 'chanting' will bring us everything we want, it takes
a dim view of emotions and actions that aren't considered congruent
with 'being in service' to another--once again, de-prioritizing
our feelings and needs, and putting them on the
back-burner to simmer, and rob energy from more productive pursuits!
This nonsense is underscored by fears of karmic retribution, if
we entertain a retaliatory or vengeful thought toward somebody who's
intentionally done us wrong--and suggests that we surely must have
done something despicable in a past life to have
deserved these parents, siblings or friends who've treated
us abominably. Christ, no
wonder Buddha was fat! If our core belief
is that we can't have prosperity and love, chanting
won't work, because shame and guilt from childhood block us from
receiving! That's not Karma--it's just simple, metaphysical
gal-pal always tells me how "Buddhistic" I am, and I think
that's probably true. I fully believe in the karmic boomerang. In
truth, I've likely had a hand in speeding it up a bit. I'm uniquely
comfortable with my dark side--in fact, I celebrate it. Does that
mean I'm a bad person?? Hell no - and if it did, I'm sure I'd have
been struck down by lightning decades ago. What it means
is, when somebody's intentionally crossed or undermined me, I haven't
lifted a finger--but they've always paid a price, and I've
heard about it later.
you eradicate "negative" feelings from your personality,
positive ones can't remain alive and vibrant. Therefore, shutting
down/discarding your rage or envy for instance, flatlines
your glee and happiness. That's how feelings work, and there's just
no way around it. If you won't feel pain, you can't feel pleasure--or
it takes tremendous intensity to capture and hold your interest,
which is a key factor in sex
addiction (my sub-specialty).
a humongous difference between sitting on your feelings--and
sitting with them. Feelings are just parts of You
that you've crucified and discarded a long time ago, and they're
wanting to find their home again, inside you.
a healthy, whole person, means being able to experience and operate
from a full repertoire of different types of emotions,
without self-judgment. This is what's required, to be a
multi-dimentional, fully-integrated being. It's easy for half-personalities
to commit suicide, but whole personalities
do not contemplate killing themselves. Ever.
TRAUMA, AND YOUR ADDICTION AFFLICTION
seen where core trauma/narcissistic injury spawns addiction because
people learn how to self-medicate their pain from a very
early age. Numbing-out or running away from our anguish is natural,
because who in the hell wants to feel that?! We begin to
regard darker emotions as monsters who mean to
overtake and kill us, and fear makes us run from them!
But these monsters aren't living under our bed or in our closet--they're
living inside us, and as much as we've tried to drown them,
outrun them or shop them away, we can't. Retail therapy
can only leave you broke. It cannot help you repair what's broken.
you are today, was established by the time you reached five
years old. These were your formative years, and
they powerfully influence your beliefs, your principles, and your
sense of Self. True healing means challenging some long-standing
ideations, superstitions and rules you've lived by, which have trapped
you in self-loathing and toxic shame. Getting well entails unlearning
erroneous beliefs and faulty paradigms that haven't served you.
This can be a formidable transition, particularly if you've spent
many years in traditional recovery programs. 12-steps may
keep you from using--but here, we will be resolving the
underlying pain, that's made you want or need
means your addictions evaporate. Getting sober is easy--but shifting
how you think you'll have to do that isn't, because it's an entirely
different paradigm than you've tried before. There's a learning
curve; it's like switching to a Macintosh, when you've solely
used a Windows PC.
always telling clients: If I could wave my Fairy Godmother Wand
and make you whole and happy tomorrow, I would
(and I honestly mean it)! This is a process. It doesn't
take decades or even years, but I wholeheartedly believe in it,
or I'd be hunting for a different vocation that feels as gratifying.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
you outgrow your 12-step sponsor?
HAPPINESS~ THE PATH TO FULL RECOVERY AND JOY
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