Self-reflection invites self-awareness, and self-awareness enables you to better regulate your emotions.
From this, we can get a deeper understanding of why we feel the way we feel and make positive steps towards change and growth.
Better emotional regulation equates to less anxiety.
Less anxiety means a more peaceful, contented, and stress-free life.
Not why the addiction, the question we need to be asking is, why the pain..?
“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.”
Gabor Mate - The Twelve Hungry Ghosts
Do I know this for sure?
Yes I do. I am a recovered addict.
When building this website and business I thought long and hard on how much of my personal story belonged in this space, after all, we are all entitled to a little privacy. But when it came to addiction I concluded I could do more, and inspire more by sharing my own story.
Elvis Presley once said "before you abuse, criticise and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes".
That addiction your struggling with, I've been there, I've walked in your shoes, and I'm here to tell you, there is a way back.
There is much mis-understanding around addiction not to mention stigma, the heroin addict is labelled a 'druggie' and is a menace to society, whilst the compulsive shopper who just cannot stop spending money on things they don't need with money they don't have (credit), is the acceptable face of addiction.
My own personal addiction nightmare was with prescription drugs, and one in particular Tramadol for which I was a slave to for 7 years.
What started out as in innocent search for back pain relief, quickly turned into a dependent nightmare from which at one point I thought I would never escape.
There is now a global epidemic of prescription opiate abuse, others include, Oxycontin, Fentanyl and Vicodin, there is global black market for these drugs, and I hope by sharing my own story that I can both inspire you with your own journey but also be a voice to change, to warn people of the dangers and be a beacon of light for people who truly want to recover and free themselves from the grip of addiction.
Just recently Jordan Peterson has spoken out about his own addiction to prescription and illegal drugs or alcohol, and he isn't alone, Daniel Radcliffe, Oprah Winfrey, Zach Effron, Stephen King, Judy Garland, Matthew Perry, Elton John, Prince and Robin Williams are just the tip of the iceberg.
The truth is addictions affect everyone, because everyone experiences pain at some level, some much more than others. It is nothing to be ashamed of. And it can show up in lots of different ways, some are just more socially acceptable than others, yet all have the capacity to destruct lives.
However, this page isn't about prescription drug addiction, which just happened to be the trap I fell into.
The truth is that there are no end of things human beings can do to escape their own reality, it isn't just drugs and alcohol, overeating, overspending, gambling, work, sex and in modern times addiction to gaming and social media. You only need to walk around and observe that we seem to be a society walking around as if almost asleep, faces glued to devices, oblivious to everything that is going on around them.
Addicted to escaping reality.
And the one that nobody sees coming, the one that sneaks up on people and is rooted in trauma (pain) is love addiction.
The insatiable human desire to find love in another, to find that 'one' who will complete you.
The 'success' of dating sites is testament to how many people spend their lives looking for someone to love, only to then discover it only temporarily numbs the pain, before it spirals into something that really doesn't feel like love at all, and that dull aching feeling starts to reappear...
We are wired for connection, it is in our DNA, enjoying a healthy, reciprocal, loving relationship is a wonderful thing, someone to make and share memories with. Someone with shared values and morals but with their own individuality and uniqueness. I hope that everyone finds that in life.
But like drinking excessive amount of vodka, seeking love in another, in order to make yourself feel better about yourself, falls into addictive behaviour.
If you're looking for a love described as above, then it can only come from one place...and that is inside you.
Addiction is a maladaptive coping strategy to pain relief. And in order to truly relieve ourselves of pain, we must first understand where it resides and make peace with it before we can say no to the glass of vodka, or the high of the drug - or before we can experience healthy loving relationships.
Addiction and dysfunction in your relationships are far more intrinsically linked than you ever thought they could be...because if you don't heal the parts of you that are wounded, and you take them into a new relationship, you will bleed all over the person you 'love', and they will do the same to you.
Happiness and a life free from addiction is an inside job - who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens...
But you're in the right place to get help, sometime just talking with someone can be the catalyst for change that you need (it was for me - thank you John).
I won't tell you it's easy, it has been a journey for me. And there have been low points, but in Mindfulness & Therapy I found the space to do the work I needed, in order to change myself, so that in doing so I could change my outward experience.
In order to change my addictive behaviours, I had to first face things about myself I'd kept hidden away for years, I had to find a way to allow myself to be vulnerable, to say "enough is enough" and to dedicate working towards a better life.
I think everyone gets a second chance at life, an opportunity when the door for change is open, but you have to choose to walk through it and embrace uncertainty, you have to want something more for yourself and you have to be prepared to look for it in the one place you've been running from: yourself.
Change doesn't need to be painful, it is often the resistance to change that hurts more, and there is nothing more painful than staying in patterns that don't serve the best version of yourself.
I hope when that door opens for you, you're ready to walk through it. I promise on the other side is a peace perhaps that is difficult to imagine right now.
And if you know that door is open right now, and you're ready to walk through it, then I think I can help.
Much Love, Darren