Do you eat your way through depression before it eats away at you? Do you dissociate from reality so that reality can’t get to you? Maybe you’re addicted to toxic relationships. Maybe you gamble too often. Click too many items to put into online shopping carts. Take a different man or woman home every evening. Consume a new bottle of wine every night. Chase emotionally unavailable people, to avoid confronting your own unavailability. Go back to your abusive ex. Work overtime, to avoid creating a life outside of work.
What’s your addiction? Your poison of choice? Everyone has at least one – whether it’s food, alcohol, sex, people. Whether it’s minor or major. All of the above? None of the above? Maybe you have your own customized designer “drug” or hybrid – a mix of things you use to fill up the various voids and gaps in your life. These are the outlets you use to swallow your anxiety, placate your fear, quiet the inner critic that says you’re not enough.
Addiction exists on a spectrum – from the self-sustaining to the self-destructive.
Some addictions are seemingly harmless, trivial – until you take a closer look. Others become so rooted in your identity that you forget they were once never part of you at all.
Many addictions aren’t dangerous addictions to hard drugs – but they can be just as sinister. They cause us to become dependent on outside sources to make us feel whole; the sad part is, our dependency causes us to become more fractured. Some addictions involve overeating to fill the aching sense of emptiness or undereating so we don’t take up too much space; other addictions push you to please others so you never have to consider what actually pleases you.
At its core, addiction usually stems from some sort of buried shame that shouldn’t have been ours to bear in the first place.
Most addictions cause us to isolate ourselves or to gravitate towards those who will make us feel even more alone than we already were. Giving into our addictions makes us feel grandiose, on top of the world at the time – but in reality, they shrink us. They ask us to satiate ourselves with external rewards rather than a sense of internal safety.
Most addictions aren’t actually cravings for things, or even people. They’re an addiction to validation. And if left untreated, they could potentially rule you.
Every addiction at first gives us a false sense of control – but it only causes us to lose control. Addiction offers a seductive illusion that something outside of ourselves could potentially save us from ourselves. In reality, it paves the pathway to destruction.
Getting to the root of every addiction is like going down the rabbit hole of every tortuous thing that has ever happened to you.
You’ve got to come clean to get clean. In order to get out, you’ve got to go within.
You’ve got to detox from your negative self-talk, self-blame and sense of shame. You’ve got to uncover, dig deep and unravel your deepest wounds to finally heal them. Everything in your life that has shaped you so far has to be explored – each childhood trauma, each source of terror in adulthood. It’s a labyrinth, a mystery novel. What, where, when, how, who, why?
Who are you without your addiction? Who are you with it? Who abandoned you, so that you abandoned yourself? Has it always been a part of you, or did you weave it into your story until it became a nonnegotiable part of your narrative?
Why now? Why the ‘relapse’? Why were you brought to your knees this time? Why did you crave you another ‘hit’ of what others might call self-harm?
When did you get your first “fix” of whatever you use to fill the void? When did you realize you couldn’t live without it? When did you stop validating yourself and start seeking validation elsewhere?
Where were you when you first needed something outside of yourself to make you feel alive? Were there other people involved, coaxing you or making you feel so terrible you needed to escape? Where do you most often have the urge to validate yourself through this source? Where would you be if you didn’t have this addiction?
How has this addiction ‘created’ you? How has it destroyed you? How has this addiction taken away from the time you could’ve spent building a sense of self that didn’t require this addiction to survive?
What do you do to stay numb? What could you use to replace it? What would your life be like if you didn’t sustain this craving? If you radically accepted it, without falling off the wagon to fulfill it?
What would it take to break the cycle?