Addiction is a beast and the enemy’s pet. Addiction is sometimes the only predictable in an unpredictable life. “I’ll have this drink and feel all right.” or “I’ll take these pills one last time to clear my head and I’ll think about all these decisions that bring so much fear and anxiety tomorrow.” or “One last high and I’ll get back to recovery tomorrow. It’s just so much damn work and I’m tired.”
Or worse, “I was addicted to heroin, meth, cocaine, (insert narcotic of choice here), but alcohol is different. At least I’m not blitzed out of my mind. Having a drink to calm my nerves or wind down from a crazy week won’t hurt.”
Unfortunately, if your chemical and psychological make up is of an ‘addictive’ personality then addiction applies to everything.
This is why I admire recovering addicts with great admiration. The strength it takes to overcome an addiction can only be found by the grace of God. I think about how hard it is for me to simply give up eating bread and how often I ‘fall’ or am ‘tempted’ and succumb to that temptation and it’s only a dinner roll! I can’t imagine if it were a substance that took away my pain and blinded me from my struggles for even a moment. It’s like drinking the apple cider from the apple vineyard in the Garden of Eve!!
A handful of the survivors I’ve been working with over these past few months happen to be addicted to something – drinking, pills, narcotics, eating disorders, etc. Their dependency of choice was what ironically kept them alive at the time because it is what they chose to hold on to whether it was to escape the ugliness of the abuse they suffered or the pain they continued to feel and suffer from the abuse.
I watched my sister from the age of 13 cry out loudly through addiction because she had no other way of voicing the pain she felt inside from the abuse and having to see her abuser every year. Shoot, I dabbled in blacking out my pain with alcohol that first year in college. Problem is I’m too much of a control freak to be controlled by addiction. Excuse me, that type of addiction. Needing to have all control of what was going on around me was (and at times still what I struggle with) my go to crutch.
It is not necessarily my expertise to work with recovering addicts. I am not a therapist, psychologist or drug counselor. My peer support helps to get to the root of what led to the addiction or what could be faced head on in order to continue to thrive and overcome the demon of addiction. However, in my experience between family, friends and survivors I’ve worked with along the way, the only way out of that deep dark pit is to look up to Christ and allow His light to shine directly on the source of the matter.
Yesterday in spiritual direction Fr.Alfonso gave me a visual for this exact point. We were discussing my work on healing and he said (Paraphrased) “It’s like if you have this pond and someone threw in an object that once it hits the water it disperses black ink. The ink spreads and eventually covers the entire pond making the water black and dirty to where you can’t see anything in it.
In order for the pond to be clear again you need to find the source of where the ink is coming from. So you find that object and you pull it out. You hold it in your hand and let the light of Christ shine upon it. Once it’s removed the source of the ink is gone and eventually the pond will clear up again.”
I’ve found this analogy to be true for my healing. Once I finally pulled the memories and truth of what had been done to me from the ‘pond’ and held it in my hand, allowing Christ to shine His light upon it, I began to clear up once again.
Sometimes it is hard to find that source because the water is so murky or so deep it’s too painful to try and locate so we give up. Possibly we might feel so covered and stained by the ink in the water that we deem it impossible to get clean even if the source is removed. However, when we are bathed in the light of Christ we are transformed anew.
No excuses. But it does have to be on the individual to go into their own pond and retrieve the source, to pull it out, and to present it to The Lord. No one else can enter our ponds which is why the only way an addict can ‘overcome’ is if they make that decision themselves to do the work.
Survivors of abuse have my heart not only because I am one among them but because I know the hard work, sweat and tears it takes to overcome. With every survivor I meet I’m in awe and admiration.
Yesterday one young woman said to me, “I was high and I didn’t want to be high. Something inside of me cried out and I thought, ‘I don’t want to just survive I want to overcome and thrive.” From that day forward she checked herself into a Christian based rehab and has thrown herself into the Word of God as her new ‘addiction’.
She is an overcomer and so are you (and me too! )!