Series Three: Blog Fifty-two
Addicts are vulnerable. They don’t know how to recognize or manage feelings, particularly the strong and powerful ones. What they do know is to split off from their feelings and pretend they are just fine. Once I was sitting at a wedding reception and a clergy colleague who sat next to me began talking. He had a close friend who was also clergy and was allegedly run out of his church because of a trouble-making family who accused him of sexual abuse. What he didn’t know is that the accusatory family was mine, and I was one of the family members that was abused. I wanted to kill him on the spot. But, I didn’t. What I did was smile and become quiet. I think I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
Addicts are pretty good with these splits. When they are hurt, numbed with shame, seething with resentment or dominated with anger or hate, they know how to compartmentalize their feelings and pretend they are not there. They use this ability to manage and control their environment that is unsafe. The problem is that inwardly they lose themselves by failing to recognize their affect. They drown in the feelings that were triggered or go to great lengths through maladaptive behavior to avoid their emotions. Addicts learn to avoid the obvious and embrace the improbable. They live in a constant state of vulnerability not knowing how to recognize or manage the feelings that have been buried. They are unable to draw from their own internal resources because there aren’t any. They remain in constant need of self-regulation resources. They think the resources are external. It’s a fantasy that is never realized. Since painful, rejecting, and shaming relationships are the cause of their deficits in self, they cannot turn to others to get what they need or have never received. With few other options addicts turn to their drug of choice. Why, because the dopamine rush delivers what it promises. To get away from the hell of the pain that slaps them around, any reason is a good reason to use.
Drugs of choice migrate. Addicts might find a way to shut down Heroine, Booze, Crystal, Molly or Blow. They just migrate to the next fix. It can be anything including workaholism, exercise, food disorder, rage or caretaking another. It is common for recovering addicts to create a new cocktail for their choice of drug. It will always be that way until they get at the root cause of needing a fix. Here are a few things to consider.
Managing your feelings and thoughts creates self-agency. It is necessary in developing a true sense of self when we don’t we foster a false sense of self which blinds awareness of your own feelings and thoughts. It further darkens your understanding about ways in which your behavior hurts self and others.
Oh! by the way, I did circle back with the insensitive clergy colleague and insist that he listen to the gory details of sexual molest by his clergy friend toward me and my family. Though he was stunned with silence, he heard the other side of the story. I have since wondered if that did not change the way he shared the narrative with others.
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