The suppression of my darkness and my shadow self-came to a head a few years ago as I found myself toeing the line between life and death as I battled drug addiction and alcoholism.
I was playing with fire. The fire of drug addiction and alcoholism. I was miserable, hopeless, discontent, angry, and bitter. And I really just wanted to die because I saw no way out of the hole I was living in. I was living on the outskirts of society, and I was closer to death than I was to being alive.
The ultimate manifestation of my darkness shows itself in the form of addiction, mostly to alcohol and opiate-based drugs in any and all forms. And if I can shoot it IV even better!
For me, my addictions became the band-aids for the deep bleeding wounds I had been suppressing and denying my whole life.
I was in agony and I couldn’t admit it. See, I had spent most of my life in pain that I couldn’t talk about, and this was the culmination of years of stuffing my feelings, ignoring my emotions, and blocking the flow of energy within me. I was suffering from a massive disconnect from my soul which resulted in my utter inability to connect with those around me. Thus I felt alone, separate, and lost. These elements create quite the fertile soil for addiction, because what is an addiction but the compulsive need for something, some outside substance or stimulation that we believe we need to survive.
The addicted mind
The addictive mind grows from disconnection and imbalance. We can’t deal, we are in pain, we are suffering and we falsely believe that the outside thing makes us okay. Or, in the beginning, the outside thing (in my case drugs), actually does take away the pain of the disconnection we are feeling. So we keep doing it until one day we find out we are hooked.
This is the point in time that we can make a decision. I’ve known many people who choose to put down the addiction right here because now it has become harmful. That was not me. There is something in the mind and chemistry of the alcoholic/addict who will not stop in the face of harm that makes it impossible for them to stop even when they are faced with complete destruction. I had lost all choice in what I was doing and how I was living. I would cry each morning because I didn’t want to do it anymore. Every time I shoved that needle in my arm one more time I die a little bit more.
The madness of compulsion
I was putting so much stuff into my body yet nothing could dull the pain anymore. Running away wasn’t working anymore. I was out of solutions. I was being dragged along by my compulsion that the very next shot would be the one that took away the pain. The next shot would bring back the oblivion I was craving so badly because I couldn’t take the mental anguish of my life any longer.
The compulsion of it is madness, as I now understand. But back then, in the midst of it all, I couldn’t see what the truth was to save my life. I was drinking the kool-aid of my own delusion and it was going to kill me. Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to be a prisoner inside your own body. Where you are screaming that you want your choice back, your life, and your freedom. But you can’t have it because the embodiment of all your darkness is in control of your mind and body. It’s agonizing.
Where the addiction all began…
For most of my life, my head was a very noisy, busy, chaotic and judgmental place. My mind was extremely hard on me and hard on everyone around me. But mostly me.
On and on it would carry, no matter what I did or said, no matter what I wore or how I looked. I was never good enough, I was always scared, and my head was just always telling me how stupid I would look if I did this, or how weak I would look if I showed that emotion.
It seemed as though my mind would never give it a rest.
When I played sports, it was the ongoing “don’t mess up, don’t mess up. If you mess up you suck and no one is going to like you” speech. At school it was the constant “don’t say that you are going to sound dumb. No one likes you anyway so why are you bothering” and “why bother you will never do it as well as this person anyway. No one will like you if you aren’t the best.” At home it was “don’t cry, don’t complain, they aren’t going to love you if you cry and whine,” and, “you aren’t good enough, nothing you do is good enough, you suck you suck, you suck, no one loves you.”
Naturally, when I found drugs and alcohol I was hooked. Because for one of the first memorable times in my life, there was no stress, there was no judgment. There was just this peaceful bliss.
I went on a mission after that, as I was determined to find that feeling again—only, I thought I could find it outside myself.
Only I didn’t know that feeling was one of connection and that it was to be found within. Instead, I sought this connection in all the dark and grimy places life has to offer. Drugs, sex, alcohol, crime. When I put substances in my body I felt something. It wasn’t the bliss of connection I described earlier but it was a comforting euphoria which was better than my lonely, disconnected reality. That’s what fueled my addiction until I crossed the line and became a prisoner.
There is hope
These days, I am no longer a prisoner to my addictions and compulsions. I have the choice and I have the freedom to live a life of purpose and function. This is only granted to me because I work for it, and I use a wide variety of spiritual tools to keep myself in this place of freedom. But the root of why these tools work is the connection they bring. I believe these tools are available for anyone who wants to heal and live a different life, but it takes effort. My brand new book Fractured. A hug Your Chaos Story of Healing Through Energy Work deeply shares the story of my life interwoven with an exploration of the energetic roots of my illness.
I am connected within myself to an outside source of energy. Call it God, Source, Universe, All That Is, The All, Mother, Goddess, Allah, Yaweh, or whatever you like. To me, it is the Wanken Tanka, the Great Mystery. This connection offers me a connection with all of you so I never feel alone.
And that’s where I’ve found healing, freedom, and happiness. You too can find a path that will work for you. There are options and help for those that want it. !2-step programs work for many. Embracing a spiritual path brings connection and we often find that disconnection is at the root of our addictions.
Just try something new and you might be surprised. For me, understanding that I was not alone and realizing what fueled my addiction helps me stay sober each and every day.
Image: Urban Seed Education/Flickr
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(If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out to me personally at email@example.com. I am happy to talk about where I found freedom on a deeper level)