Addiction effects everyone. Whether you have been addicted to something or you know some who is/was addicted to something, addiction touches every person’s life. Let’s be clear, we can get addicted to anything. Addiction stems from attempting to numb our feelings and Brené Brown say, “if we numb compulsively and chronically – it’s addiction.” This means you do not have to be an addicted to alcohol or drugs to be struggling with addiction. You can, like me, be addicted to cookies. If I start to feel uncomfortable or some sort of feeling comes up that I don’t want to deal with, I eat a lot of cookies until I am numb.
We are all addicted to something. If you don’t believe me, next time you start to feel uncomfortable or upset, pay attention to what you do next. In that behavior lies addiction, if you use it compulsively and chronically to numb. Since I have learned we are all addicted to something and addictions stems from the behavior of numbing our feelings, I have relaxed my view on addiction.
Now, I am talking about people who we look at as a society and say he or she is an addict, the people we send away to get help, the people who we believe something is so deeply wrong with that we give up on them. I think in our culture we portray people who struggle with addiction as bad people who are careless, insensitive, and liars. But they didn’t start this way.
In Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior she talks a lot about addiction. She had changed the way I view addiction. She says addiction is just a hiding place for really sensitive people. We are all numbing because we feel things. Then we discover not feeling things is better than feeling things and we become addicted to numbing and whatever behavior we use to numb.
So, addicts are just really sensitive people. Addicts get addicted because they think their feelings and pain are something to be ashamed of. They think something is wrong with them, they think they are broken, but when in reality something is wrong with our culture. Our culture is afraid of pain and we push that message onto people. Then when people feel things they get scared, like I am not supposed to feel this I am supposed to be happy all the time, and they numb the negative icky feelings. But when we numb the dark, we numb the light. You cannot selectively numb emotions. When you become addicted to something and you live in a constant state of numbness, you may not be feeling the negative emotions but you are also not feeling the positive emotions, like love and joy.
We are all addicted to something, but I somehow attract the people who are deep into their addiction. I have grown so tired of it that I have cut ties with people because I keep learning you cannot help people who do not want to be helped. But in the process of cutting those ties, I have begun to see whole picture. These people are not bad, these people are just extremely sensitive, which means they feel deeply. But instead of understanding those feelings were something to be felt, they thought they were something to be ashamed of, so they numbed them. Then numbing became a way of life. So, I am curious about addiction now where I used to be afraid of it, where I used to see it as weakness, where I used to think only broken people became addicts.
But I have learned addicts are not broken, this country is broken. We are each enough just as we are and it took a lot of unlearning for me to understand this. Our culture gives us a lot of messages and we all buy into it, we all buy into the message that pain is something that needs to be fear. I do not fault people anymore for believing that. But it renders us utterly helpless because if we stop blaming people who struggle with addiction and if we cannot help them if we don’t want to be helped. We are not left with many options.
There is a lot of shame around addiction and shame is just a fear of disconnection. Addiction needs to be talked about. People who struggle with addiction need connection. It is an uncomfortable area of life and it is messy but it always will be until we start to unravel what is really going on when people are struggling with addiction.
I leave you with this excerpt from Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior, “We started out as ultrasensitive truth tellers. We saw everyone around us smiling and repeating, ‘I’m fine! I’m fine! I’m fine!’ and we found ourselves unable to join them in all the pretending. We had to tell the truth, which was, ‘Actually, I’m not fine.’ But no one knew how to handle hearing the truth, so we found other ways to tell it. We used whatever else we could find – drugs, booze, our arms, other bodies. We acted out our truth instead of speaking it and everything became a godforsaken mess. But we were just trying to be honest.”