A personal view on addiction support...
There is no question that addiction is a significant problem in our world, and it is increasing. I have my own theories as to why this is, but that is not the purpose of this blog. Addiction runs in my family. I have attended many recovery meetings in support of one member of my family, and while I see the benefits of these meetings....mutual support, a sense of belonging and advice among many....I also see an aspect of these regular gatherings that disturbs me.
When a participant has something to share in these meetings, he/she stands up and says, "Hi. I'm John Doe, and I'm an addict," or "Hi, I'm Jane Doe, and I'm an alcoholic." While I strongly believe that acknowledging our problems and mistakes...especially to ourselves....is a huge step on the healing path, repeatedly identifying oneself as an alcoholic or a drug addict for the rest of one's natural life seems extremely harsh and counter-productive. Very old school. What we place after the words "I am" is very powerful. It becomes who we are. Some of the individuals I heard have been sober for over 20 years, yet they continue to affix a negative label to themselves, stating at each and every meeting they attend that they are drunks and drug abusers.
Now...I understand that overcoming addiction is no easy feat. It's a struggle and a herculean effort. I witnessed this firsthand in my loved one. And while I realize that the urge to use can still be there, how much of that is directly related to the substance, how much to the situation and how much may be due to the repeated identification with the substance? "Once and addict, always an addict" is the saying. I don't believe that.
Addiction is one result of an energetic imbalance in the solar plexus chakra...the seat of personal power. Here lies our self-esteem and our sense of worthiness. Addiction blocks the pain of low self-esteem and unworthiness. Some of the most sensitive souls fall into addiction as a means of coping with intense pain. Clearly it is not a solution and only adds fuel to the emotional fire...often with tragic results. But does continuing to identify oneself as an addict or a drunk help...or hurt?
Just once I would like to hear someone stand at these meetings and say, "Hi. I'm John Doe. I'm a great father....a volunteer....an environmental advocate....a funny guy.....an animal lover....a student....a painter....an athlete....a loving son...kind....goofy....a rebel with a cause" and on and on and on. At what point does it stop being about punishing and start being positive? Why do we feel it's necessary to continue promoting a negative self-image indefinitely?
When an instructor at a rehab center....a person who's been sober for almost 30 years...stands up and identifies himself as an addict and a drunk more than once...in fact, several times over the course of a few hours...and states that that is exactly what he is....I feel sad. Very sad. Because that is not who he really is...not by a long shot.
I can look around these meeting rooms...full meeting rooms...and see beautiful souls. Every one. I see (and feel) their pain and their struggle. I hear their tragic stories. I see their confused and often angry family members. Does it really give hope to these individuals to hear over and over that for the rest of their lives they will be considered...and should consider themselves...addicts? I don't think so. In fact, I believe it causes more emotional harm.
Honesty is a great thing...especially with oneself...but so is forgiveness and kindness toward self. Imperative I think. I don't want my loved ones to feel that they are forever branded with the iron of 'addict.' They are so much more. Our society already deems them broken souls...less than human in many ways. Look at how many employers are actually willing to give them a chance. Very, very few. Hard enough to lose the stigma society places on those in recovery...why should they continue to believe it and perpetuate it themselves?
Bravo to all the brave and beautiful people who face themselves in the mirror with honesty and willingly decide to make a change. They are heroes in my book, and they deserve as much love and respect as everyone else....most especially from themselves. We are, after all, one. What affects one affects all. Kindness and compassion are imperative, and separation does not exist.
"Hi.....I'm John Doe....and I'm a beautiful soul."
Let's hear it.