The picture above is the view from my bedroom in my new loft. It is absolutely breathtaking and getting to watch the sunset every evening in this way is such a blessing. This picture was taken a few days ago and is interesting to me because right after I took it I began to cry uncontrollably until I fell asleep. I thought to myself, what kind of person can still feel sad with a view like this? However, this view is colored by so much pain and while it represents a fresh start, it still equally represents the failing of something else that was important to me. I felt so empty in that moment. I felt so alone. These feelings caused me to reach for lower thoughts and feelings and instead of feeling empowered by all that I’d overcome to get to this place, I felt mired down in hopelessly longing for a situation that is completely unsalvageable.
After sitting with this feeling, it was a few days later that I realized that I might be addicted to pain. And how important it is to sort through this type of addiction. An addiction such as this creeps in sort of quietly, so quietly that it may go unnoticed for years on end. We’re taught that when people have an addiction problem, they’re addicted to a thing, but in my life experience, I have come to understand that no person can be addicted to a thing, people get addicted to feelings.
No drug addict is addicted to a particular drug, sure they may have a drug of choice, but ultimately if there are 5 different drugs that can make them feel one particular way, then the type of drug becomes completely irrelevant. People who are addicted to shopping or spending money recklessly aren’t addicted to cash, they’re addicted to the feeling of what it’s like to spend money or the feeling of the acquisition of things, it’s not the money itself or the items they purchase, which is why it becomes an addiction because those things hold NO real value whatsoever. Thereby those people are never held over for long and that harmless shopping habit spirals out of control into a full blown spending addiction.
So when I had this thought today, it made me stop and think. If I might be addicted to pain, something that inherently doesn’t feel good, why does it feel somewhat comforting? What about pain feels like home to me? Thinking about it and having to ask myself these hard questions really put something in perspective for me…
It isn’t the pain that feels good, it’s the having of something or someone to mask the pain that feels good. Some people have the problem of not being able to differentiate between what/who is good and right for them and what/who isn’t. I, however, do not have that problem at all and I know exactly what/who is good and right for me and what/who is not. The trouble with me, though, is that in addition to a possible addiction to pain, I also have an addiction to attachment.
The root of all pain and suffering is attachment.
Sometimes it feels as if I have a complete aversion to detachment. It’s like, once I’ve put in the effort to create that connection, I really don’t want to let it go, even though I know it isn’t right for me. So instead of letting go quickly, I ultimately decide to prolong the inevitable for as long as I possibly can and all but decimate myself in the process.
I have done this so many times, yet today is the first time that I have recognized that this is a pattern and an addiction that needs to be addressed.
I tend to hide behind my seemingly infinite capacity to love and forgive because I’m so addicted to those feelings. Just like a substance addict hides behind his/her ability to be a functional alcoholic or drug user or just like a person who’s addicted to spending money hides behind his/her ability to earn money as a way of justifying accruing debt.
I find myself ready to invite those who have purposefully hurt me back into my life or re-introduce things that aren’t healthy for me simply because it feels easier to be a masochist than an addict in recovery.
Truth be told, an addict only realizes he/she is one when his/her vice is taken away. I have been stripped of mine, but they’re always close enough to taunt me. The difference now is that I don’t want the temporary high that only comes with succumbing to the taunts, I want the everlasting feeling of knowing that I am an overcomer of my addiction.
So as I have found myself desiring to move away from my addictions and closer to my healing and ultimate recovery, I also find myself feeling incredibly vulnerable. I have found myself opting for complete solitude so that I don’t have to even pretend for a few hours that I don’t have a problem. And if I’m completely honest, I’m absolutely terrified of attracting other people and things in a similar situation into my experience and even more terrified of bringing others into my dysfunction. Yes, sitting at home damn near waist-deep in all of my issues isn’t my ideal situation, but just like any addict in recovery, before any real healing can occur, one must understand the true depths of his/her problem first.
And though I may be enlightened, I am not immune or exempt to the pitfalls of the human experience.
It’s scary in this place, it’s so new to me that trying to process it all feels like an insurmountable task. At times, I’d still rather romanticize the people, things and behaviors that have hurt me time and time again, than acknowledge how truly devastating they are. A wild imagination can be a double-edged sword in times like this. Distinguishing facts from illusions and real pain from true pleasure has never felt so difficult.
Still, here I am, ready to begin the road to recovery and to remove the shame and stigma that comes with admitting you have an addiction in general. We all have addictions and vices that are camouflaged in the illusion that we don’t have a problem at all. I know, that by default, I am not alone in my admission, yet I am so proud to stand with those who bravely face their issues one day at a time and beat their addiction.
I invite you to stand with me.