Series Three: Blog Fifty-Three
Most addicts roll with life being emotionally intolerant. Nostalgia is not warm. It’s haunting. Yesterday brings back moments of painful loneliness and bitter emptiness. There is a quixotic interest to revisit past family experience and make it something it never was. Some shut down all feelings that trigger past memories of childhood. There is an unspoken vendetta to crush all possibility of connecting to a hurtful past. Yet, the longer we live, past experience trends upward and outward. Feelings of discomfort regurgitate in our memories like heartburn from drinking too much coffee. Old torments appear in unexpected moments. Unwanted destructive behaviors crop up like weeds in a bean field. Getting rid of them is like one continual game of Whack-A-Mole.
We grew up in families who had no boundaries. Everybody knew and was into each other’s business. A concern for boundary violation was quashed by the dysfunctional behavior that dominated family living. Anything outside the family norm was driven out. If you liked hard rock and the preferred music was country, you kept it to yourself. If you wanted to wear a Pukka shell necklace you were ridiculed for being a hippie. In my family, the peace sign pointed to the antichrist. If you wore it or drew it on anything you were unwittingly promoting the devil. Lava lights and black lights represented a counter cultural movement that ultimately led to drugs, sex and rock n roll. Back in the day, fathers divorced their sons for wearing long hair. Kids grew up hating their now deceased dads about the long locks of hair that were once a battleground but now a bald distant memory.
Past experience of verbal knockdown drag out fights over styles, physical weight, religion, drugs, rock n roll, and circular rhetoric about ‘do as I say not as I do’ sit in a cauldron of past memories. The tsunami of pent up emotion erupts like a volcano when past memories are triggered by current experiences in life.
The response for an addict is to numb out through a cocktail of escape experiences.
Addicts attach to a substance and/or process because it delivers what it promises and is a very predictable lover. It is the only way an addict knows how to self-regulate. The crazy-making experiences in life that don’t make sense don’t matter anymore once the lover is engaged. The whole of life becomes surrounded by addictive behavior. Frequently, it is muttered “this person had so much going for them. How could they destroy themselves with addictive behavior?” But, when you excavate the root causation, intense emotional pain is uncovered as the driver of the insane behavior. In order to take away the addictive behavior, you must understand the role it plays in the person’s life and then replace it with something that does work. Emotional self-regulation doesn’t come from others because others have been the source of the pain in the first place. Addicts don’t have the ability to utilize others in a safe manner.
Here are some considerations for healing:
It’s like the whip on the stage coach of a team of horses racing out of control across the prairie headed for a narrow passage way with a 100-foot drop. The whip takes the reins and gives them to a 14-yr-old kid hanging on to the side rail and says “kid you are on your own!” This would be disaster! Comparatively, the whip takes the reins from the child’s hands, pulls the child close and whispers that he knows how to get the team of horses to slow to a stop and does. He carefully navigates the narrow passage way and all is good and everyone is safe.
This is what must be practiced in terms of self-parenting in the life of an addict. Two opposing perspectives must be recognized with a wise observing mind making the mature decision. This is the practice of healthy self-parenting.
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