As we learn more about our addictions, we come to discover that they are not just extreme attachments to substances and behaviors, they are also our way of distracting ourselves from our pain. They are our attempt at trying to escape from it. We run from our pain. We bury and suppress the painful memories of our traumatic experiences. We resist thinking our difficult thoughts and feeling our difficult emotions because we’re afraid we won’t be able to recover from the sheer painful weight of them. The more we investigate our addictions and the fears we’re running from, we realize that what we’re most trying to avoid facing is ourselves. Why do we hide from ourselves?
Being honest with ourselves would mean confronting all the things we’re ashamed of, all the things we regret, all the mistakes we’ve made, and all the ways in which we’ve been hurt and hurt others. This is incredibly scary for us to do, especially when for so long we’ve been practicing the opposite – emotional suppression, avoidance and denial. We don’t want to look at ourselves because we’re afraid of what we’ll find. We’re afraid to take responsibility for our actions. We’re afraid to do the hard work of making amends to the people we’ve hurt. We’re afraid that our shame will swallow us whole and that we’ll never be able to come back from it.
When we hide from ourselves, we’re hiding from the painful ways in which we perceive ourselves. We’re afraid of the self-image we’ve created for ourselves that is based on self-hate and insecurity. We’re afraid of the pain we feel when we can’t recognize ourselves in the mirror, when our lives have become unrecognizable to us because we’ve been inundating our minds and hearts with so much shame and self-destructiveness. We’re afraid of feeling the pain of our own judgment and self-rejection. We’re afraid of facing all our perceived inadequacies. We’re afraid of seeing ourselves as powerless, as weak, as victims. We’re afraid of acknowledging just how far we’ve fallen and admitting just how self-destructive we’ve been.
Healing from our addictions means finally having the courage to face ourselves. It means knowing that even our worst mistakes, even our worst traumas, are not the definition of who we are, and that we can identify with our strength instead of our weakness, with our success rather than our failure. Facing ourselves means being able to be honest, vulnerable and open with ourselves. It means humbling ourselves to know that we don’t need to be perfect, all we need to do is try.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.