I have a friend, that after years of problem drinking, recognized that alcohol was a problem and decided to stop drinking. Eventually he was able to achieve sobriety and hasn’t had a drink in years. What he hasn’t experienced and doesn’t understand is recovery. While it’s true that he no longer drinks, The other things he’s experienced in his sobriety are increased anger, isolation, domestic abuse and eventual divorce. His children rarely come around. He’s become what some refer to as a “dry drunk”. Occasionally my friend will remind me that he didn’t need counseling, or a group, or therapy like those “losers” in AA. He achieved his sobriety all by himself, through self-will. But at what cost?
Ultimately, addiction isn’t about the things that control our life. It’s about the way we have learned to live life.
At its core, addiction isn’t about the drugs or the alcohol. It isn’t about the pornography and unhealthy sexual behavior. It isn’t about the continuous eating or gaming all night and heading to class or work the next day without any sleep. All these things and more can become addictions. Addiction is ultimately about the way we have learned to live life, by running from the trauma, the pain and the fear. We have learned to live life through escape and self-medication. Eventually discovering that the tool we have used to escape from trauma and pain has become more destructive than what we were originally running from.
For most of my life if someone were to ask me, “Ron, how do you feel?” my immediate response would have been, “I feel good.” It took almost a year for a therapist to convince me that “good” is not a feeling. “I feel good” was a way for me to avoid talking about my feelings. The phrase has no meaning. I had learned to run from words like hurt, sadness, shame and fear. I had learned to numb myself to uncomfortable feelings. Feelings, even painful ones, are real and are meant to be processed and learned from, not avoided. It’s been my experience that as I have learned to process the feelings I once ran from I have been able to find freedom and joy. I am learning to live life, not escape from it.
I’ll continue this line of thought next week, but for now, if you have questions or can relate to some of the things I have been talking about, coaching may be for you. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk to you.