This is actually an old post that is edited, so if’ you’ve been “around this town” for a while, it might look slightly familiar…. yet different 🙂
Addictions came up this Thanksgiving when I went back home to visit my family. I realized a lot about my family (and myself) and it was a bit of a tough time. I have been struggling as I have been reflecting on the things I saw, learned, and realized about myself/family. I went back to read what I previously wrote and it has actually helped me try put things into perspective.
I was listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on my way to work and what was said really hit me quite hard. The topic was about emotional healing but the focus was on addiction. It was how addiction changes us and affects us as we are trying to live our life.
When referring to addiction, for me, I’m talking more about the addiction of over exercise and weight loss; anorexia. Addictions come in many forms and manifest in different ways – work, alcohol, sex, drugs, food, exercise etc. just to name a few.
A few small comments about addiction really made so much sense, and it got me thinking. I was well aware about my addiction to exercise/weight loss and what it has done to my life. There really isn’t an addiction that is great or that will do something positive for a person (unless it’s an addiction to your faith). Addictions control a person’s being from the core. When you are addicted to something, it lets go of the person we really are and also lets go of our purpose in life.
When I was obsessed with weight loss at the depths of anorexia, nothing else mattered. My day was focused on when I will work out, how much I will run, what food I will eat and what my estimated weight loss of the day could be. My purpose in everything else was lost. The addiction becomes your only purpose and that purpose is empty. It’s an emptiness in us that is filled quickly by immediate gratification and more emptiness. The different between addictions and things we do (habits) is when we can’t function without thinking about it. When your purpose is based around that addiction, it is something that is no longer positive in your life.
Addiction is obsessing over and worshiping what is comfortable. It’s easy to stay in the same place when we are comfortable (and by “comfortable” I mean we are used to it). It’s difficult to change – anything! But that comfort of “I don’t want to have to do _____ and start over” is dangerous when it is severe enough to stop us from making happy and healthy decisions. It is very easy to fall apart and stay in the addiction, what is hard is working to make the change it and keep it together.
Many of us are ashamed to admit our addictions. The secret of our addiction is what keeps us sick in the moment. We are not able to heal until we are open about it. That’s why AA meetings start with “Hi my name is ______ and I’m an alcoholic.” (I could be totally wrong, but I have had enough therapy that I’m pretty sure that’s the case!) When you can take the power from the secret, you are well on your way to understanding that addiction and not allowing it to be your purpose in life. Exercise, weight loss and anorexia was my “purpose” every day until I was able to look at my psychologist and say that I have a problem, and this is out of control, and this is no longer “an eating thing” that I am controlling. Yes, for QUITE SOME TIME I called my anorexia “an eating thing”…. And I worked so hard to convince her that is just what it was…. I was in control! <insert sarcasm> Truthfully, it was controlling my life. It was controlling my every day. My purpose in life was lost. It was more important than my husband, my poodles, friends, who I was as a teacher and woman of God.
[Admittedly…. I’m addicted to standard poodles and spoiling them as well! 🙂 ]
Often we choose an addiction as a means of survival. It feels like it serves a purpose for quite some time. And, truthfully, I think it does. I think it is a coping skill that is there to keep us trying to work with/deal with/avoid something painful. What is that pain? It’s different for all of us. Trauma, family struggles, emotional struggles etc. That addiction is something that we do in efforts to survive in some way, shape or form. It becomes dangerous when it is a part of us – when it is something that we can’t see ourselves without. When I started running everyone thought it was great and gave encouragement, and understood why I couldn’t meet them because I had to get 10 miles in…. but it quickly moved to something I had to do every night, or there was some sort of despair attached for my failure.
One of the hard things I had to try to figure out is that my addiction to losing weight and exercise was not a reflection of who I was as a person. As I previously stated that my purpose in life was lost (because addiction sucks it out of you), it also makes you believe that you are not worthy of anything. Addiction has an amazing way of making you feel a shame (so deep that you almost feel it physically in your core) for being “bound” to the addiction. Being “bound” or “chained” to an addiction is not a reflection of you as a person. It is a maladaptive coping skill because you don’t know how to deal with things when it gets tough – when you’re scared, anxious, stressed, nervous, depressed etc. It has nothing to do with your worth. Your addiction has absolutely nothing to do with your worth or who you are as a person, it only has to do with how you react to situations in your life. Go back and read that sentence again.
So where do you go when addiction has become such a problem in your life? People love miracles. We want so badly for God to deliver us from whatever struggle we have. Sometimes we want to bypass all of the struggle because it’s so tough. Admittedly, I wanted to bypass everything – I still do at times! This is where patience is key (if you haven’t read my post on patience, it might be purposeful). Each time I try to have patience, but want to move through this process quickly, my psychologist is quick to remind me that the healing is in the learning. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to be delivered from the pain and struggles of the path of recovery. At times, it sucks eating, gaining weight, adding variety and figuring out if I’m over exercising (and by “at times” I really mean ALWAYS). She has taught me that I can’t make recovery stick until I learn and go through the process. Moving through the process is where the learning and change comes. I can’t fast-forward to being recovered because I’ll never understand the core of this issue. I have found this to also be true in faith. The patience, faith, trust and learning comes in the struggle. God doesn’t give you the struggle, but He does give you the learning in the struggle so there is meaning in the end.
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we want clear answers, but sometimes we won’t get it. As much as we want to be delivered, there are times when maybe our journey is to just go through (as much as that feels terrible). If we want to move out of the “comfortable” spot, we have to allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable. We have to be willing to disturb the “peace” in our life in order to make the real and true peace happen. Real and true peace is impossible with an addiction. It is impossible when we are bound by something. We can’t live our life by our feelings. If we lived by our feelings we would miss out on so much! If we want find happiness, we have to move from trying to survive….. to working to thrive. I truly believe that is the only way to reach true happiness.