Often when we are caught in our addictions, we haven’t yet gotten to the point where we are clear on what exactly it is we are running from that is fueling our addictions. We are obsessed with our drugs of choice, our addictive relationships and our compulsive behaviors. These things are on the surface of our problems. We haven’t done the emotional work to dig deep and discover what it is we are trying to escape, run from, avoid, bury or distract ourselves from. We know we’re in emotional pain, but our default patterns have been to avoid the pain for so long that we often aren’t clear on what caused our pain in the first place.
Many of us living with addictions experienced trauma in our childhoods. Abuse, violence, death, loss and separation are examples of some common traumatic experiences that many of us lived through as children. When we experience trauma in the formative years of childhood, our psyches are often deeply impacted. We develop certain responses to try to avoid further pain. These pain responses can hinder our ability to develop healthy coping strategies. One such strategy is analyzing the trauma and looking at it closely. When we are in denial, try to pretend the trauma didn’t happen, or refuse to look at it, its power over us grows. With our addictions, we are running from the pain we endured. We aren’t able to face it or come to terms with it.
When we experience trauma, we often develop fears that we aren’t conscious of. Our subconscious minds store our emotional information, including our fears, and govern the vast majority of our thoughts and behaviors. The subconscious fears we develop are therefore driving our actions, and when we struggle with our addictions, it is often because we are running from these fears. We build up so much resistance to these fears and are essentially so afraid of our fears that we can’t accept them. We can’t live with them and move through them naturally. Instead we run from our fears, desperate to avoid them.
Trauma and fear are unavoidable parts of life. Our traumatic experiences and the fears we develop have the potential to completely derail our lives when we aren’t able to face them. Running from them increases their power over us and hinders our abilities to cope with them.
We understand addiction and have experienced it firsthand. We’re here to help. Call (800) 871-5440.