February 11, 2020

Addiction is a Shame Cycle Stuck on Repeat.

There’s someone below the surface whom we don’t often talk about.

She’s a societal taboo so full of shame that we keep her closeted.

We’re embarrassed by her neediness, by her lack of resolve. We try to soothe her with strategy and distraction, but she goes much deeper than that. We don’t introduce her to people, but she’s there, behind the scenes, pulling the strings. She’s subtle—quiet, at times—but when she’s poked, she screams and rages.

If you were honest, you’d like to disown her; somehow, that feels easier.

You know her well, the addict in you, though you may not have named her. She’s the one who feels hooked by and helpless in toxic love. She second-guesses herself. She has trouble distinguishing truth from reality and triggers from actual red flags. She’s always seeking, always yearning, always needing, and is on high alert for abandonment. She’s stuck in an anxious free fall when in a relationship. Out of one, she feels free but so lonely she weeps.

And you are embarrassed by her. You think she’s weak. You think there’s something wrong with her. But the truth is, she is both your greatest pain and greatest teacher.

You can’t both shame an addict and heal an addict. You can’t continue to judge her while you try to mend her.

Addiction is a shame cycle stuck on repeat. Shame is addiction’s fuel. Why is this? The most painful emotion for a human to bear is shame. Energetically, it is opposite of all universal truth. It defies your very nature.

It says, “You will never ever be loved for who you are.”

It says, “You are ugly inside—desperate, needy, and unlovable.”

It says, “You’re a burden and you’re broken. You can’t be fixed.”

It says, “You’re wrong at your core and you being here is a mistake. There’s no love here for you. There’s no purpose and no point.”⁣

How can we unconsciously sustain these internalized thoughts and not feel such deep sorrow?

We cannot handle a lie this great on our own, especially when our body and our subconscious have bought it as truth. Especially when we’ve been tallying the evidence to prove it as fact since we were very small. We may have been outright told these things, or it may have simply been modeled in how were we treated—either way, we got the message.

Addiction is a self-deteriorating cycle of filling a need with the wrong substance. It’s coping with the suffering instead of healing the pain. The remedy lies in opening your arms to her in empathy. Recognize that the addict in you needs so much love, she deserves so much—she just doesn’t know yet that she can give that love to herself.

Compassion will heal her. Naming the lies and distortions and unraveling the false beliefs will heal her. Learning to feel, allow, and welcome all of her big, messy, and too-much emotions will heal her. Connection will heal her. But it has to be real, it has to be healthy, and it has to be secure.⁣

You don’t have to do this alone.

And ironically, you can’t do this alone.

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