In my last blog I talked about loving myself through my binges. At first, stopping bingeing seemed sooo overwhelming that it was self defeating to even try it. Instead, I began to play around with loving myself through the binge by using supportive internal dialogue. I also mentioned consciously bingeing, which is the state that I had to be in to love myself through those binges. This can be applied to any addictive or self abusive behavior.
Side note… I personally struggle with the word addiction. Perhaps there are some residual feelings of shame around it. But, more so, addiction is often used in a very permanent sense. And I don’t believe addictions are permanent. I personally think of addictions as patterns that we are attached to because they fill some void that we have not yet found a safer or more loving way to address. But they are fluid, always capable of transforming.
Patterns, or addictions, are an escape, an avoidance, denial, or a way to numb out inner trauma and pain. They are used to disassociate from the pain that we want to avoid. Often it’s a pain that is very deeply routed in the subconscious; pain that we have been avoiding for so long we don’t even know that we have those original pains anymore. We think we just have an addiction, that we are out of control, that something is wrong with us- but the addiction is just a symptom. It’s something so much more than over eating, starving yourself, cutting yourself, comparing yourself, neglecting yourself, or however else you are choosing to harm yourself or keeping yourself small.
Any addictive behavior that you are experiencing is the best way that you have discovered to deal with whatever emotional burdens you are carrying.
Addictions allow us to hide, smother, suffocate, or cut off parts of ourselves. We hide the parts that we are embarrassed of, ashamed of, that we don’t understand, that hurt too much to look at, or that we were taught by someone else were bad or wrong. But they don’t go away by not looking at them. The more we push those hurts down, the more they fester inside of us and the more we have to do to keep them from surfacing. The harder we have to try to, consciously or unconsciously, keep them hidden.
And this is where introducing consciousness provides a new kind of freedom. Most of us are spending much of our energy stuffing down what is called the “shadow aspect” of ourselves and trying to hide the parts of us that we have labeled broken- so that no one will know that we have flaws, that we hurt, that we have suffered. This “hiding” is a breeding ground for fear, insecurity, self loathing, violence, and addiction- to name just a few.
Being conscious about your addiction is like giving yourself permission to stop trying to hide it from yourself.
Forget trying to hide it from others- when we’re stuck in a self abusive cycle or pattern, sure, we don’t want the world to know… but the bigger truth is that we can’t stand being in our own skin dealing with the emotions, feeling, and traumas that we are hiding from. It’s not the world we are hiding from. It’s ourselves. And the relationship with ourselves is the foundation for the rest of life.
Bringing a little bit of consciousness to a pattern doesn’t mean we have to look at everything at once. But it does give us a fighting chance to start being with ourselves in a new way. It opens a door to just allow ourselves to be in those hardest moments, without any expectation, so that we don’t have to bear the weight of hiding everything anymore.
Here are a few ways to be present, or stay conscious while still acting out an addictive behavior:
Some of these may seem obscure, or even just weird. But what you are doing is using a new action to take you out of the trance of your addiction. You are breaking a neural connection in your brain and in doing so, building a new one. I strongly suggest using as loving of an approach as you are capable of. But it may take time to build up to truly loving ways to support yourself out of patterns and addictions.
You will fade in and out. You absolutely will disassociate still. That is normal and completely OK! It won’t feel safe or comfortable at first to be conscious through these acts because you started doing them to be unconscious and escape your own pain. But if you can keep bringing yourself back, keep reminding yourself to be conscious, keep introducing more loving thoughts or actions, then you are making progress. You are introducing conscious action into your addictive behavior and little by little you will learn how to be more present with yourself. And little by little you will notice things begin to shift.
There are moments when anxiety has been so terrible, depression so deep, and I was so entrenched in a debilitating cycle that fantasies of ending my life were the only comforting thoughts that I could come up with. But, I started to just let myself think them- I gave myself the space to feel the comfort they provided. I am learning to let myself be fully present with even the darkest of my thoughts and feelings. It is the resistance or the continual attempts to hide from those feelings that brings so much more pain and suffering. I find there can be a great freedom when I can just be completely present. Even though I may be in terrible emotional pain, at least I don’t have to hide anything anymore.
Your patterns are trying to talk to you, get your attention- they are not your enemy. They can be the gateway to the deepest most sacred aspects of yourself. That is often the part that is threatened in emotionally traumatizing events- so you try to shut those parts of yourself down to prevent further damage being done. But in doing so, you also cut off a major source of your personal power.
When you are present with yourself you no longer have to hide- from yourself or the world. This process is not easy or comfortable, but it is the only way to completely heal from addiction, pain, and suffering. It’s the only way to transform. You cannot heal from something you won’t or can’t look at. This happens in steps. Small, incremental, sometimes agonizingly slow, steps. But…
You cannot stay in hiding and truly find or love yourself.
Give yourself a chance to be more conscious. It is in this state that you also learn how to love all of who you are and continue on your journey of self love. You are alive. There is a life force pulsing through you, no matter how dim it may feel right now. That life is proof enough that you are meant to be here and that there is love inside of you just waiting to be remembered, embraced, and allowed to flourish.