Recovery is really hard. Recognising that you have a problem is actually probably the easiest part of the process and that is really saying something. But when you live with addiction and mental health issues they really just become so much a part of you and who you see yourself as. So when you put your hand up and say “I have a problem, I need help,” while it is the bravest step you will take it is really the easy part.
I don’t say this lightly. Addiction is a form of self harm and addiction can take many forms. Most people associate addiction with alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex. Addiction is defined as ingesting a substance or engaging in an activity that may be pleasurable but interferes with normal activities. Typically an addict will not be aware how their behaviours are impacting others around them.
According to Psychology Today “most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn’t what matters; it’s the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.” Addiction
The thing is when you live with your addiction and think you have everything under control (which for me also forms part of it, the need to be in control in a very out of control world) it comes as quite the surprise to discover that you don’t! When you are living in that blissful ignorant state you are what I would describe as comfortably numb. You are numb to your feelings, numb to the pain, numb from getting hurt, numb from life.
Of course the downside of living comfortably numb is that you are also numb to all the good things that happen in life, the joys, the celebrations. Unfortunately numb is numb, when you block out feeling you block out the feeling of everything. Which also means you can see the good and celebrate the joys in life.
Though when you are in recovery you are exposed to everything. You no longer have the addiction to hide behind or in. There is nothing to help you with those feelings, the pain, the sadness, from life. The thing is addiction isn’t a choice, most people wouldn’t choose to be an addict, but they might choose numb.
Doing life is a really hard thing to do especially when you have lived more of your life hiding from it behind the numbness of addiction and as I heard Glennon Doyle Melton say when you are in recovery being an addict seems like a really good idea. Because you can with a clear head see all the things that you were hiding from behind it, you were numb.
Some days I find myself thinking gosh I wish I could drink, because numb feels like a really good idea. The truth is I can’t drink and honestly I almost wish that I was an alcoholic because I could more easily avoid alcohol than the shops! Don’t get me wrong alcohol featured prominently throughout my late teens-to mid twenties, there are patterns that I would just interchange one for another to stay numb. But what I know is that as much as I want to be numb I don’t want to let anyone who believes in me down so I fight the feelings.
My personality really has been all or nothing for as long as I can remember. In my work life, in my personal life, with friends, volunteering you name it. I struggle to say no, but I really just think that the busyness that I allow myself to create is really just another form of addiction. It enables me to fill my head with so much other things that I can avoid thinking and feeling. I can just do life but not really be present in life.
I would give anything to be numb, to stop the feelings from bubbling up. That sadly isn’t the way life is. So for now I will just have to be content with walking and hoping that I can walk off the feelings or at least walk until I am a little bit numb.
linking up with Kylie for #ibot