Life is full of mystery and wonder, as well as extremely challenging times. Indeed, extraordinary people have emerged from the some of the most trying circumstances. We do not always, however, remain standing when life puts us to the test. Nevertheless, falling brings key teachings as well, awakening gratitude and humility in the heart, and liberating us from dysfunctional patterns. In fact, it often takes a good fall to wake people up, as many recovered addicts know all too well.
There are many ways to cope with the intensity of life. We all need breaks from time to time. Daily, consistent self-care is often enough to help one decompress enough to be able to contain the challenges around the corner. One invaluable life skill is the ability to experience life without shutting down and closing the heart, no matter how difficult it gets. Perhaps a mature human being is one who has explored the breadth of human experience with awareness and patience, and is thus able to face life without any illusions or aversion.
Those who shudder or tremble in the face of life’s challenges often retreat – as an instinctive response of self-preservation – to a safe haven where they no longer feel threatened. When retreat is not an option, however, people seek ways to ‘check out’ of the body they live in. We are all too aware of the various psychotropic substances designed to provide such an escape, as well as the great damage they due to the body and psyche, often irreparable. Even less damaging things, however – such as food, sex and television – can be used as distractions from pain, and thus also become very destructive. Then one realizes that almost anything can be used as an escape, and that the key is in one’s relationship to everything in their life rather than the things in and of themselves.
Addicts are well-versed in patterns of escape. These patterns may have developed in their childhood, during which they never learned how to face the challenges of life in a healthy way, or their daily experiences was so overwhelming and dysfunctional that escape was the best option at the time. Indeed, the addict’s sanity has depended on being adept at escape and avoidance. It is really a testament to what human beings are capable of. Nevertheless, those whose experience of life is limited are actually missing out on extraordinary beauty and richness so that, for example, by avoiding the feelings of the pain of separation from a loved one, one also doesn’t get to experience the great love and sweetness that is the other side of that pain.
Pain comes in many subtle, inner forms – loneliness, emptiness, sadness, resignation, hopelessness, despair, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, humiliation, disenchantment, betrayal, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety, fear, terror, frustration, anger, rage, worry, pensiveness, confusion, arrogance, pride, etc. Healing begins when we simply face the pain that is often avoided, so that it actually begins to move and resolve itself very quickly. It is so easy that people are often surprised, and then soon realize how much energy and effort is consumed in holding onto pain unnecessarily.
Addicts are stuck in a place that they cannot simply extract themselves from as their own skills of escape and avoidance turn on them when they are faced with the reality of their addiction – i.e. the denial that they have a problem or that they have lost control. Recovery programs are essentially designed to ‘recover’ the addict’s soul from destructive patterns that have taken over. In order for a program to be truly successful, it has to touch all levels – body, soul and Spirit. Toxins must be cleared from the body so that the misery of the physical pain of a worn and beaten body is alleviated and the body systems can begin to heal. There are many highly developed holistic therapies that work very well in detox.
In freeing the soul from the turbulence of psycho-emotional pain, one must develop an awareness of dysfunctional habits and behaviors that feed addictive cycles and learn simple, sound methods of dismantling them, such that one no longer lapses in the presence of old triggers. All recovery programs use support groups and counselors to hold the mirror up for people to see their patterns, so that they can then learn how to face and feel the challenges of life without trying to escape.
Finally, the most important element in the recovery effort is the lifeline to the ‘Higher Power’. Taking refuge in a Higher Power begins with the acknowledgement that we are not in control, but rather that we are taken care of by the Divine Mystery. Learning how to trust and surrender to the Divine is the golden key for addicts as their ‘being in control’ is how they believe they have survived into the present, not trusting anyone else as healthy, trusting relationships were seldom modeled for them growing up. The recovering addict’s life is about to take a radical turn on every level, potentially experiencing their first healthy relationship, a rare inner peace, a pain-free body, or a steady job.
At the Circle of One, we address all levels in our addictions program, and we recommend participation in established programs so that the healing journey can be completed rather than being another failure on the road to recovery. One of the techniques we use is acupuncture; it is particularly useful as it works on multiple levels at once, addressing the troubles of the body as well as the soul. Visit our Addictions archives for articles and studies on acupuncture detox.
Please feel free to contact us to discuss your situation and explore your options.