We are at the cusp of Winter Solstice. A time of going into the dark and emerging into the light. This blog very much does both. It is both a wake-up call and testimony to the healing power of love.
This is the most intimate post I have ever written. I have never shared this personal story before in public. But, I sense that this story has healing medicine in it. So, although I hesitate to write this, I do so for those of you who will read this and discover healing medicine in it for you.
I have been in deep process for the last few days ever since I saw the movie, “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who both did FABULOUS jobs). I am not going to give the plot away. However, I will say that Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, is an alcoholic and a drug addict. The movie did an amazing job of showing the very real physical reality of addiction and more deeply the emotional underbelly of it in an incredibly compassionate and heart wrenching way. Cooper conveyed this so well that a younger part of me got completely activated by watching it. Because my father too (who has now passed away) was a drug addict and alcoholic.
Although this movie is amazing and I do recommend it, it triggered my younger self so much that I left the movie feeling frozen and in deep pain. It didn’t matter that I had decades of processing and healing of this situation under my belt…the pain that lingered was in my face!
The movie showed me even more the truth of how the dysfunction of addiction can leave painful scars. For me this pain created insidious and repeating scars throughout my childhood.
I never knew what I was coming home to. I never knew when my father was going to be out of it. Or, when my parents would be fighting again over his addiction, while my mother flushed his pills down the toilet.
We didn’t talk about it and for sure it was not shared to those around us. It was a secret. It was shoved under the rug. But, the symbolic pink elephant was always looming.
I went from a happy, bubbly and talkative child to a closed down and painfully shy introvert. I was scared. I stopped trusting my father. And, I stopped trusting reality. I learned that in order to be safe I needed to lower my head, stay quiet and try to make it through the best I could.
Just like Cooper’s character Jackson, my father had trauma as a child that he didn’t know how to deal with. On top of this my father was an incredibly sensitive empathic person in a time where it wasn’t okay for a man to be emotional, sensitive or empathic. He also had intense chronic physical pain from an accident in his 20‘s and a continuous flow of prescriptions pain pills. His life was just too much for him to deal with and he had a perfect set-up for addiction.
My father tried re-hab, but couldn’t hang with “talking about his wounded childhood” so he left early and tried to kick it himself…but it lingered. My parents eventually divorced. My father re-married. But, the addiction in one form or another continued until he died of leukemia 12 years ago.
I inherited his sensitivity, his empathic nature and his emotionality. However, there was a significant difference between us. In my 20’s I dove into my healing path. I refused to carry on this pain and I was going to do everything in my power to heal it. I have been healing myself ever since…living the path of a healer.
Now years later, after much healing, I see that the world is both beautiful and amazing. I also know that the world is hard. There is so much pain and suffering, just like in Cooper’s character and my father’s life. It’s incredibly easy to lean into anything to help ease the suffering.
Addictions are in so many forms and are all around us…alcohol, drugs, sex, cigarettes and also the more benign forms such as sugar, food, shopping, chocolate, coffee, video games, workaholism, and so much more. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with patients about how they feel addictions were controlling their life.
I also have walked through my own relationship to addictions…and honestly still do. How could I not? It’s impossible to grow up with addiction in your face and not have inherited the pattern for it; even if it’s in the more acceptable benign forms, it’s still an addiction…let’s call it what it is.
The truth is our suffering, pain (past and present), and most significantly feelings of worthlessness and being un-loved motivates us to do whatever we can to feel better.
But, no matter how much addictions help soothe, they are never the solution. As we all know, you feel better for a short while and then the monsters come back again. If you let addictions take full hold they will spin you down the drain of your life. In the most extreme cases they take hold of your life and leach the very life force out of you.
The only thing I have found to really get out of the addictive cycle is to fully turn toward it…with as much courage, fortitude, presence and self-compassion that you can muster. You need to stand and stare down that monster and to get to what’s underneath it. Because far too often what’s underneath is full of pain and suffering and what it really wants is to be loved.
They say in 12-Step Groups to give it over to God, for in the monster’s face of addictions, you are powerless. I absolutely agree. However, with one important distinction…I see the part that is powerless as the ego, not the higher self. For, you cannot heal addiction from the level of the ego; the ego’s steel-like white-knuckle approach of control and power over mentality can only last so long. Because eventually the rebel part of your ego, the part that says, “Come on…you know you want it” will steer you toward the addiction again and again. However, when you connect to your higher self/higher power you connect to the divine LOVE that has the power to truly see and heal everything.
With this Divine Love active it flows directly into the places that most need it, the places that are underlying the addiction…the seeming monsters, the deep pain, the beliefs of unworthiness, the places where you give up because you don’t know what else to do and even deeper on a collective unconscious level the program of addiction that underlies our society and keeps us living dysfunctional lives like sheep…all of these things start to dissolve under the immensity of DIVINE LOVE and overtime you become free.
This is not easy. This does not happen overnight. You need to especially give yourself even more compassion when it becomes hard. But, for all of us, especially if you grew up in an intimate way with addiction, I don’t believe we really have any other choice if we choose to live a life free of this “disease”.
So, if you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, please, don’t give up hope. Don’t let it take over. Open to even more compassion for yourself and those you love who are struggling. Sometimes this compassion looks like tough love…and letting that person you love hit rock bottom. Far too often we need to hit rock bottom and get on our knees so that our heart breaks open enough to allow the LOVE of the Divine in.
Whatever you do, know that you have inside what you need to heal and what you need to be free.
FOR AS WE OPEN TO LOVE, AND ALLOW THIS LOVE TO TOUCH ALL OF THE WOUNDED PLACES, THEY SOFTEN AND WE REMEMBER WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE HELD IN THE ARMS OF THE DIVINE; HELD IN LOVE, STRENGTH, COURAGE, AND COMPASSION…IN THIS PLACE, TRUE HEALING HAPPENS!
And, you remember You are Holy! You are Divine! You Are LOVE!
As you stumble along learning how to free yourself from the ties that bind you may you also remember your way back home to the LOVE that never dies.
Happy Solstice to You! May you open to and heal the darkness inside so that you remember and step even more into the light inside.
If you would like to find out more how to step deeper on this path of healing here are some links to help you on your journey:
Coming soon…The Healing Power of Love Daylong Transmissions Recording. Keep an eye out for it.