ADDICTION – a deadly disease that will destroy your life, those you love, and everyone around you. It’s not your friend. It’s insidious, sneaky, crafty, and vicious. You may not even know you are addicted, and frankly, that’s the worst experience ever.
You won’t see the destruction you are causing. Those around you won’t understand why you have changed. They won’t get the mood changes, forgetfulness, lack of compassion, lack of concentration, or changes in appetite. “Maybe he’s depressed,” they’ll think. And maybe you will be depressed, but that’s just a symptom.
Depression is one of many symptoms of active addiction. Everything I have written thus far is a symptom of active addiction. But there is so much more. Addiction will leave your life hanging in the balance and you won’t know if you are worth saving or not. Addiction will have you believing one lie after another. You won’t be in control of your life. Addiction will be in control, but you will believe otherwise. You will blame those around you. Your wife, husband, or partner – they must be controlling you. You may begin to feel boxed in. You will blame your boss for having expectations of you. You will blame your partner for not being enough. You may even question your partner’s love or devotion to you. And if you have kids, they will be blamed for actually needing you to show up as their parent.
It won’t make sense.
Most likely you won’t believe that what you are doing is “bad”, “unhealthy”, or “causing harm” to anyone in your life. It is! You may believe that pawning your loved one’s jewelry so you can sit at the casino for 24 hours makes sense because you believe, “Who am I hurting?” You are hurting a lot of people, mainly yourself.
Addiction will make you enter into a relationship even when you don’t want to. Addiction will drive you to have sex with people you aren’t even attracted to. Addiction will make you accept a proposal when you aren’t even sure marriage is for you. Addiction will have you picking out wedding venues one minute and contemplating leaving your beloved the next. Addiction is in control. Addiction is running the show for you all. Addiction is killing you and you don’t even know it.
Do you have a chronic illness like diabetes, high blood pressure? Addiction will make you forget those things in a heartbeat. You’ll stop taking your meds and skip your doctor appointments. Maybe you have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS because you have had so many unprotected sexual encounters. Addiction stopped you from being protected then and it won’t convince you to wear a condom moving forward. Addiction will tell you that you are already dying – why bother with a condom. Addiction will tell you that it’s not even worth disclosing your status because if you do, you might get rejected! And that’s one of the core issues – fear of rejection.
No one wants to be rejected – but an addict will lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and become hypervigilant to threats of perceived rejection and launch a full scale of attack to prevent it from hurting too much. This attack may look like fleeing a healthy relationship – your partner might find out you are truly an addict and set a boundary, then what will you do? The attack might look like gambling away all of your retirement – your partner won’t leave if he/she can’t get access to funds. The attack might even look like drinking so much that you can’t even function and need to be hospitalized – that’s better than facing the facts – now others have to take care of you.
You may not know what you are doing. It may not make sense to you why you are building a wall of silence around you. Your friends and family will not know how to reach you – but your addiction will. It will grip you and take you down, if you don’t do something now!
THERE IS A SOLUTION – RECOVERY
Recovery will save your life. Recovery will guide you out of pain, hurt, anger, and shame. Recovery has to be worked! You can’t just show up and expect someone to do it for you.
Recovery will return piece of mind. Recovery will bring clarity. Recovery will strength your family. Recovery will break down that wall of silence brick by brick.
Recovery will make you stand up and take notice of the past, but give you hope for the future.
Recovery is not just about stopping whatever addictive behavior you are engaging in. Recovery is about filling that God sized hole in your soul with love, fellowship, compassion, and empathy. You are a worthy person – we all are. Recovery will bring a return to sanity. That’s right – at one point you were sane – and you will be again with Recovery.
Start today. Start asking about Recovery. Recovery is everywhere.
Remember, with Recovery, you are never alone.
Every human being comes into the world wanting to be loved. Without love, we are left with heartache, pain, grief, regret, shame and guilt. This is not how I wanted to live my life.
At 26, I set out on a journey to help others as a licensed psychotherapist. I set up shop in Seattle and attempted to do the best work I could possibly do. I wanted to help heal others of heartache, pain, grief, regret, shame and guilt. It was a challenge that I wanted to overcome. “How will I do this?” I often pondered. I hadn’t yet healed my own wounds.
Trying to be present for other people’s issues was the most challenging effort of my life. I was not only a therapist but a teacher. My clients looked to me for education, guidance, and reassurance that life wouldn’t always be so cruel. I couldn’t offer much reassurance, but I could offer one thing: I would be present as long as they showed up and did the work. And they did…
As my clients were showing up and my practice was starting to take off, I felt this nagging sensation buried deep inside. Something was missing. I still didn’t feel like I was loved. This was a deeply rooted feeling that I couldn’t shake. As I tried to fight it so I could stay present for my clients, I sunk into an abyss of shame.
The shame told me “I am not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be loved”, “and I will be a failure in this business”. How was I supposed to manage now?!
I hit bottom and realized that I didn’t love myself. That was what I was missing. I had no earthly idea how to genuinely love myself. With the guidance of a therapist, I ventured into a space of self-discovery.
I came to understand that several of my negative thoughts and behaviors were caught up in an addictive cycle. I am codependent person and a sex and love addict. First, I placed my value dependent on what other people thought about me. I was raised in a less than nurturing and sometimes abusive household. I grew up believing that I was “worthless”, “only good for taking care of others”, and “never going to be loved”.
Secondly, I spent most of my life caught up in other people, places, and things that were distracting me from my goals of finding love and happiness. The shame that was deep-seated kept me believing that I would never, ever be loved, by anyone.
Lastly, sex became my most important need, because I learned that if I had sex I would be appreciated and accepted. These false beliefs almost cost me my life.
It was all bullshit. I had to learn that I am worthy of love. I found out I was lovable, loving, and loved by trusting in the power of 12-Step meetings. I found a community that accepted me for all my traits, including my flaws. I found a sponsor that guides me on a journey of self-discovery that is natural, loving, and healing.
Through my own work, I have been able to truly be present at my practice. I now help others find out who they are and determine who they want to be. No fairy tales here; just real life work by real people wanting to be loved.
I chronicled my life and journey to healing in my latest book, I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict, available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. For a limited time, I Just Wanted Love is available on a Kindle for a reduced price. Get it today http://bit.ly/ijustwantedlove
Avoidance by definition is “the action or keeping away from or not doing something.” (dictionary.com) You may be inclined to avoid difficult topics or activities out of your earlier conditioning in your family of origin. Avoidance is in fact a coping skills, but one that is more codependent in nature than really being helpful. Avoidant behaviors may have protected you at many points in your life, but if you are a person in recovery avoiding the realities of your situation is not helpful and counterproductive to the work you signed on to do.
So, what are you avoiding? Probably a lot. Are you avoiding going to weekly therapy to process hurt, pain, anxiety, or depression? Are you avoiding meeting with your sponsor to work the 12 Steps? Are you avoiding having a difficult conversation with a spouse or partner? Avoiding it won’t make it go away.
I think it’s natural and normal for humans to want to avoid pain. Put plainly, anything that will cause emotional or physical pain we are hardwired to avoid. I avoided quite a bit pre-recovery including asking for help, seeking guidance from professionals, and of course going into recovery to begin with.
In recovery, I work every day to avoid avoidance. Most people will move past avoidance after they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. That can take a long time. I try to challenge people, whether clients or sponsees, to see the benefit of tackling those things you are avoiding head on.
There is a challenge I notice people face while working on avoidance behaviors, they don’t know whether or not they are worth moving through avoidance. Now we are talking about self-esteem. If you don’t feel worthy of the gifts awaiting you, you will be less inclined to move through the difficulties. You will stay stuck; depressed and/or anxious and mad at the world.
Low self-esteem is a common problem for individuals in recovery. Of course it is. We have gone through some of the worst shit imaginable and now we are tasked with pushing through all the guilt, shame, pain, and trauma in order to have a life worth living. It’s a lot of work! But….
There is a solution:
Recovery is challenging, but it’s worth it. You can get your life back on track or move forward to the next indicated step if your recovery has stalled. It’s not easy, but hardly anything that is worth it is.
If all else fails, you can always turn to the trust prayer for serenity:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
This entire website is about me, my therapist practice, and my journey of being a healing professional.