Why Are Addicts in so Much Emotional Pain?
Page 64 Big Book: Our liquor was but a symptom. We HAD TO get down to causes and conditions.
Why do addicts seem to have a proclivity towards self destruction?
Why are addicts so inclined to blame others for their own choices?
And the biggie, why do our sponsors teach us to not ask “why”?
Answer number one: I was in so much pain that I needed to numb myself due to a life-time of hiding away my true identity. By hiding intense feelings and thoughts away my pain lived inside me till I finally was taught how to let it all out.
Because of emotional neglect and a lack of spirituality I suffered pain. Notice I said “neglect” not “abuse”. Many alcoholics have good parents who have no idea how to emotionally nurture a child in their formative (young period of development in which our emotional patterns are formed) years. Our parents basically without meaning to, teach us we are bad, wrong, lesser than, and don’t really deserve a good life. At the age of 0-8 we have no idea what true love and caring should look like. I myself did not realize this until the intensive work I did into my past by both group therapy and a brilliant psychologist who had been through the same neglect and tearing down of his self-worth.
Once I believed I was a bad person I reasoned that I would rather be a good person doing bad things so in an effort to fix myself (subconsciously) I engaged in a life of bad choices. Always struggling for the attention and nurturing my parents were incapable of giving. I started every day from the platform of low self worth, you can just imagine how that changed the coarse of my life. I beat myself up endlessly in hopes that if I punished myself enough I would again be a good person who deserves Love. . I hid myself and my emotions away because I believed they were all bad and wrong. Surly no one would like me if they knew who I really was. There is a deep price to pay for holding in who we really are and how we really feel. A body is not made to repress so many intense feelings. I caught Cancer by the time I was thirty-five partly because of repressing emotions. A large tumor had to be cut from my thigh. I was the great “repressor”. But the “screamers” (those addicts who yell at other people often) who also hide their true selves away, commonly suffer from heart attacks and strokes. ( My doctor’s theory not mine but I experienced that theory first hand.)
You see once I found a drug that numbed that pain it became my best friend. People who don’t have the pain that addicts have simply don’t react to drugs and alcohol the way those in deep emotional pain do. Common sense if you think about it. We are way over-thinking addiction in America. It’s really simple.
I was self-destructive because the fear of living so many years in great pain is a scary thought.
Blame is the most wide spread way of distracting and deflecting the responsibility of what I had done, who I really am and how I really feel. If I am blaming someone else then I don’t have to look at my guilt, shame, pain,fear.
In AA they teach us to not ask why because they themselves have never had the opportunity to answer their own question of “why did I drink and drug, why did I need to numb myself”.
Unfortunately if we don’t look at the “why” behind our addiction then we can never really find a healing.
The program works if we get a God breathed miracle and IF we do an in depth fourth step that brings into the light all of our shame and fear.
If all we do is list our wrongs and not talk about our deep and intense fears, shame, and feelings then the program is just a band-aid. And when the program is just a band-aid you will need that aid the rest of your life, just like so many people preach in AA. That the old timer is just as close to a drink as the newcomer. That’s true if the old timer hasn’t done the work on his core issues of shame, fear, and hurt.
So what are the solutions?
The solutions are to rebuild our self worth and find ways to continually process the way we feel and what we think. Also our childhood fears and intense feelings need to be let out. Journalling, writing, crying, screaming, physical exercise coupled with an emotional out-pouring. If we feel horrible don’t lay down. Take a bat and beat the bed with it. Take a whip and beat a tree with it. Buy a punching bag if your a man and include a diary with your workout. Start writing and find out what is really in your head. WRITE DOWN CORE FEELINGS AND CORE FEARS. THE ONES THAT WOULD EMBARRASS YOU IF THEY WERE DISCOVERED. WRITE DOWN THE WEAK AND VULNERABLE THOUGHTS THAT HAVE HAUNTED YOU FOR YEARS. Then share the ones that are ongoing. We need at least one person we can tell anything to, even if it’s in confessional. Work all the steps in depth including shame, fear, and core child-like thoughts and needs. “I want people to love me” “I am afraid” “I hate myself” “I want my fathers love” “Why won’t Mommy Love me?” Our fourth step needs to work on our wrongs and on our deep emotions. We must rebuild who we are by doing step twelve for many years. Not only do we need to address our core issues to heal but we also need to develop new patterns of behavior. We must take our step three seriously. We need to admit that we don’t trust God or His choices for us. And why would we? Look at our past lives and what we have suffered. We need to get real with God Himself. “If your there show me”. Pray from the heart not from some mantra robot prayer.
Lay on the bed. Put your arms straight out to your sides leaving you vulnerable. Now show God your true heart not hiding or covering any of it. Admit to him you are lost and need help but that you don’t really know if He will help you or if He exists. JUST BE REAL WITH GOD.
Join a home group and make commitments to do stuff that is scary to you. Chair meetings, tell your story at a speaker meeting. Chair more meetings. Go to jails and institutions and share your story again. Do this and keep doing it. Every time your scared of relapse write it down and tell God your not trusting Him again and ask for help. Remember the program works and it’s not you that is healing you it is the program/God which you are working that is healing and keeping you sober. “so your OK and your going to be OK”. Ask your self; am I OK right now? Then that is good enough.
Do fear lists on a regular basis. Then find your part (not trusting God/program) and realize your OK. Do step Eleven regularly with positive affirmations of all the good things you have been doing for your recovery.
You are okay if you perceive that you are. Write an autobiography of the most intense childhood experiences and feelings and share it.
Ask God to remove your character defects. Do no harm. Help others. This is the will of God. Never say negative things about yourself like name calling and putting yourself down in your own head.
Give thanks every day to God….aloud. If you seek a spiritual experience to give yourself the supernatural boost that Bill W himself got then go to places that people seek God. I recommend the Pentecostal church because of the laying on of hands and prayer. I also recommend the Catholic Church because of the confessional. Be Catholic for a day and go to confession. The smaller Catholic Churches will accommodate you that.
Finally-make amends to those you have hurt without expectations of their reciprocation. Use a dictionary. Start learning, Set life goals. Eat right. Exercise. Do not engage in sick relationships anymore. If someone brings out the worst in you then it’s time to move on. Quit reserving a beast of burden to blame for your feelings and actions. No one can process the way you feel except you.
Tall order? Yes. Read the book I wrote for more help to really heal. Not so you can drink again but rather so you won’t want to drink again. You won’t want to change the way you feel because you will feel fine. And sometimes you will feel great. And sometimes you will feel like shit but you won’t hold it inside. If your angry you will beat the bag or the bed and write down or share your feelings. If your hurt by someone you will tell them “I am hurt by what you said.” That is if you want an ongoing relationship with them you must quit acting like a stone wall. You share not so people can fix you, No. It is your sharing in itself that will fix you. You NEED no one to fix you but you do need to start sharing the more intense feelings and thoughts.
Show all people respect. All people.