The light-bearing gift of addiction

I've been thinking a lot about addiction and recovery as I've been winding down my work in preparation for our move, and feeling all the feels about all of it. Because I'm recognizing the clear signs of withdrawal from work. From WORK for crying out loud. It's been like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland -- I keep thinking I'm going to get to the bottom but I keep falling, my past rushing by, offering me greater wisdom and healing around the gift of addiction and the call to recovery. 

I know this place. 

If you've been here for a while, you know that I freely identify myself as a woman with a body that is addiction-prone. I've not drank alcohol for fifteen years and so many other addictions have shown up for me to circle this particular pattern within myself over and over: money/over-spending, sugar, information mining, Facebook, my silly iPhone... and here we are, with work. 

I'm grateful that I recognize addiction as one of my life lessons and frankly, I believe the world might be a kinder and more intelligent place if more people would make room for addiction and recovery to be part of their story. Because it probably is, to some degree.  

Addiction is a light-bearing gift.

We live in a world addicted, for good reason. Addiction is a reasonable response to living in a dysfunctional society. Addiction is a reasonable response to living in a system that devalues and dismisses women and destroys our habitat, Earth. Addiction is a reasonable response to families and societies that were never taught to value emotions or how to meet needs in truthful, life-giving ways. Addiction is a reasonable response to wanting comfort, joy and fulfillment, but not knowing how to cultivate those qualities in meaningful ways.

So what is addiction? 

Definition of addict {Merriam Webster}

transitive verb

1:  to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively was addicted to gambling

2:  to cause addiction to a substance in (a person or animal)

Origin and Etymology of addict

Latin addictus, past participle of addicere to favor, from ad- + dicere to say.

What I love about the definition and etymology of the word addiction is that the cure is written into the definition itself. To loosen the chains, our call to action is to surrender to the truth — to face ourselves and our habit: the sugar, the work, the alcohol, the endless seeking, the desire to transcend, the drugs — our habitual reliance is harming us, causing pain, or keeping us from what we truly desire. 

Addiction, no matter what form it takes, is the obsessive creation of space between a person and their life. The space between you and your light. The space between you and the discomfort of unmet needs and unseen emotions. The space between you and what you really want. The space between you and being too much. Addiction, in all it's forms, creates space through distraction, through numbness, through disconnection. 

Addiction is not a personal failing, it is an indicator of sensitive bodies and minds living in a society that requires distraction and distance in order to survive the violence and suppression that is the norm. The continued use of violence and suppression to "get over it" is not supportive of the psyche's need for safety, affirmation and great care.

The longing for a different path, opens the path.

The pain that creates the addiction is deep wisdom -- a call to meet one's needs, it is a healthy instinct gone awry. As the addiction itself stops working (almost always), it brings you back to the initial pain and then some. Though it’s a place where you are suffering and you may feel broken, incapable and unworthy, the longing for a different path, opens the path.

Addiction, and the inevitable longing and urge for healing, points to the wisdom and wholeness that is alive and well within you. The indomitable human spirit KNOWS that there is something else available. You can trust your instinct to heal and the mere fact that a particular addiction has come to the end of it’s useful life is an invitation to wake up. You, me, we are made for so much more than a life of addiction, distraction and numbness.  

The light at the bottom of the rabbit hole.

In a long conversation with a friend I hadn't spoken with in three years she said to me, "You look great. Softer. There is something different about you and your energy now." I feel that, deeply. I'm grateful for that reflection. 

Seeing my own relationship with addiction and distraction presented to me as I've stopped working has been difficult, and it's been like falling into a state of full on grace. The ways I've wanted work or sugar or marriage or staying ridiculously busy or money or spiritual practice (and previously, alcohol) to support me, to protect me from my own anger or grief, or to make me feel important and relevant are astonishing and oh so human. My pull to these destructive ways of being has stemmed from a deeply rooted neural pathway that told me I was nothing without "important, relevant work" and my feelings? Well, since my anger and grief are related to unfixable circumstances, I best just bury them in sugar instead of feeling through it all. And my desire for real support: to be seen and held and treated with tenderness? I've sought those things in the solace of a spiritual practice instead of the hard work of asking for what I need from actual humans.

Let me be clear, there is nothing to fix and, nothing innately wrong with any of the above - nor are they always addictive. It is my relationship to these things that kept me hidden from myself. As I said, addiction is a reasonable response to an unreasonable world. And, that doesn't mean that it is the response that we are meant to have or that I want to live. My pain tells me there is something far better, far more real available. Despite of, or maybe because of, addiction, I am a fully functioning swirl of human and divine and I feel lucky (yes, lucky) that I knew early on that addiction would be a companion on my life's journey as it has been a constant invitation to move toward recovery -- the call to ever-increasing closeness with myself and with life in nourishing, authentic ways. 

I believe that humans are wired for devotion.

For emotion. For shining big light and walking in the dark. For intuition. For celebration. For stillness. We are wired to ride the rhythm and flow of our emotional waters. For wonder, joy and connection. I experience it more and more, and I hope beyond hope that you feel that, too. 

As I let my work as I know it unravel and fall away, my personal work continues to be taking a compassionate bow of reverence toward my desire to create space between myself and life and to say, "Not today. Today I am devoted showing up for the fullness of my being and the fullness of my life." I have come to believe that I cannot engage in the work I am meant to if I'm putting space between myself and my light, between myself and my needs, between myself and my emotions, between myself and my body and my experience -- all of it. 

Your invitation, and there is one, of course. 

If you are a woman who knows that you are putting space between yourself and your life with.... something (pick your soothing agent of choice) then honor that. Soften into it. Let me affirm that this is not a personal failing, but a reasonable response to what is happening in your life or in our collective experience. Only then are you free to choose differently, if that is what you want. I would invite you to get curious about your habitual responses and what might be available if you got just that much closer to yourself and your own experience? What light and treasure might you reveal to yourself and to the world?

With all of my love and adoration. I am fully on your side.  


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Inviting Love into Your Intentions

I want love to be present in everything I do.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say you do, too, as one of my readers. Wanting my life and my energy to be infused with love, is an intention I use liberally in the energy work I do for myself and for others, "Mastery over transformation in the vibration of love." Whether the ultimate desire is about right work, relationships to self or others or the state of the world, I want to let love heal and transform on all levels. Now I read that intention and I sigh, feeling the deep support and love of the divine clearing the way.

However, until recently, it didn't feel that way. I would feel hesitation but I didn't know why. 

I began exploring my relationship to Divine Love.

For the last year and a half, I have invited divine love to show me her face. To help me embody love, to know and experience true love, as well as to support me in expressing love clearly: in my work, in my family, in my community and the world. I asked to be held in a sacred container of love so that everything that stands between myself and a deep knowing of divine love would reveal itself to be healed in right timing.  

One surprising (and exciting) aspect of this exploration has been a deeper understanding of the intention I love so dearly and how expectations play a part in the experience of how an intention takes hold in our lives -- not only expectation, but the impact that unconscious beliefs about love (or any higher energy) will have on an intentional choice to invite healing, growth and transformation. 

The impact of bringing love into the equation.

When I started using this intention in my energy work, I noticed that I felt like I was being punished -- I experienced physical pain and emotional upheaval in ways that honestly made me hesitate to use energy work at all. I couldn't understand why the clearing was so brutal. The surface explanation was that when old patterns, karma and energies are cleared, that it can be chaotic and painful. Of course that's true -- anyone who has ever undertaken learning a new skill or changing a behavior knows that it's uncomfortable. But this was beyond that level of discomfort. 

I accepted the explanation as truth.

But I used the energy work much less frequently because I didn't want to throw myself into chaos even though I loved the results and the outcomes of the energy work, the pain I would experience during the healing was too much. 

However, in the midst of energy work for myself related to my explorations of love, I had an epiphany about asking love to be part of our healing and our energy work that changed everything -- literally providing understanding and healing on the spot. 

Many people (myself included) grew up with flawed, conditional, punishing experiences of love from the first "divine" beings in our lives, our parents (because they are human, not because they are bad people). Then, many people were introduced to a vengeful and punishing God. Love was not a gentle force and it was not a supportive energy - in fact, love, as I understood it, was something to be feared. The theme being, "I'm punishing you because I love you. It's for your own good." 

My experience of inviting change and transformation was a reflection of my unconscious belief that love hurts. I didn't understand love as anything but a conditional force with no investment in being supportive of who I am and what I want to create. If your first experience of love bears any resemblance to mine, then this intention, "Transformation in the vibration of love." may bring you healing/growth experiences that will likely be painful while you are on the way to your desires. 

And yet, love is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe and in any endeavor, I certainly want love present and so the first order of business is healing our understanding of, and experience of, love. 

Heal Your Relationship to Love Itself. 

Now, when I am asked for energy medicine, I affirm and intend that every person's healing on the way to transformation is attuned to the support of divine love, bypassing and dissolving any distorted unconscious patterns and beliefs related to the incredible power of love. 

  1. Explore this for yourself, because it's certainly not true for everyone. If you identify as a person who loves energy work or you are in relationship to others who do any kind of energy work on your behalf or if you are a practitioner, look closely at your relationship to healing. In any energy medicine modality there is a clearing/healing phase -- do you experience this as painful? If so, I would invite you do you own energy medicine and/or ritual that witnesses this pattern and affirms it's dissolution from all realms of your being. 
  2. Follow that up by looking for true expressions of divine love here on earth: the sun that shines and warms your face, the flowers and plants and edibles that are available as a result of a generous and abundant earth, the smiling face of a child, the acceptance and care of someone who deeply loves you, the body you live in that pulses with life, the synchonicities that arrive out of nowhere. I experience all of this as divine love. How about you?  
  3. Affirm a new relationship to divine love not only by looking for the evidence (above) but also embodying love by breathing it in, envisioning the breath infusing your entire being with divine love. Affirm that Divine Love is your true home. 

This is not only completely life-changing work, but it has long legs and big ripples, which will transform your relationship to yourself and the world around you. 

Explore your relationship to love and commit to inviting love into your intentions. Not distorted love but true, supportive, divine love. 


The Only Way Through

Let's begin with a fundamental truth. 

No one escapes the discomfort of uncertainty. That's the truth. The wisest course of action is slow down and lean towards it, peer into it's depths and soften your whole body. To welcome the waves of emotion as they crash on the shores of your being. The quickest way through (which may not be fast at all) is all the way through.

Change, new beginnings -- they are uncomfortable.

Knotted together with the wonder and consciousness-expanding experience is the inevitable discomfort. The death of something old and outdated. Uncertainty abounds. In the middle of transformation, we live in the question. And a question that always comes up for me, "How do I get away from this discomfort, this not-knowing?" (Usually repeated like a desperate mantra at one point or another.)

Humans are tender beings. 

The tendency is to protect, to create distance, when we are in the middle of change -- be it internal or external. I'm struck by knowing that there is no solid ground. We are always in a state of uncertainty, but there are large swaths of life that FEEL certain most of the time. 

And when the discomfort of change sets in, we all have ways of distancing ourselves.

Rightfully so -- we are tender beings. We have endless means to distract and numb in today's world. Some people whistle in the dark and want to stay endlessly upbeat. Others numb up in ways that are relatively benign to wildly destructive: eating all the ice cream to shooting up with heroine and everything in between. Some people try to control everyone and everything in an attempt to make things comfortable again. 

I used to drink it away, many years ago. Then I tried to transcend the human experience through becoming enlightened (so funny, right?). Now? Now I tend to vacillate between welcoming the full spectrum of experience and compulsively seeking clarity before I hunker down with cupcakes to create some space between myself and the uncertainty.  We all have our ways to soften the edges where our capacity for upheaval dwindles.

But time and again, more quickly I circle back to the pulse of my desire -- the desire behind all others that drives and inspires me moment to moment. 

I want to live with my heart wide open. 

The full catastrophe is what I want. Adventure, truth, joy, connection, love, beauty and authenticity and all the heartbreak and failure it takes to get there. This has been growing in me since I stopped drinking 14 years ago, the seed of this desire was likely the root of my sobriety. Now I want what life offers, I long to know the world and to let it change me, but I still fight against my conditioning. My desire for safety and my fear of being hurt. 

Honestly, if it were all bad and I knew I was going to be suffering in the next act, it might be easier -- pain and suffering are celebrated, respected and revered and I'm a skilled navigator in those choppy waters. However, learning to open myself just as fully to joy and beauty and love challenges me and teaches me in a way that suffering has not.  

I am committed. I stay the course with compassion for my failings and keep opening, nudging my edges, expanding my heart's capacity for contentment, if not joy, in any and all circumstances. I'm so much closer to trusting life and trusting myself to be okay with not only the choices I make, but what's offered to me.

And with this growing trust? I don't need to know anything else because the journey is going to show me what I need to know.

What is life bringing you?   

When you are in the middle of change, wanted or unwanted, no one can make your choices for you. No one knows you, and your circumstances, better than you. It's wise to be fierce in your commitment to know your own heart. 

Others can walk with you, hold you hand and light your path -- perhaps even offer you glimmers of inspiration as to how you wish to ride the waves of change.  I offer you these aspirations for your journey: may you find yourself inspired to slow down and to lean in. May you have the courage to peer into the depths and soften your whole body in a gesture of welcoming. May you savor the path and know that the quickest way through (which may not be fast at all) is all the way through. May you trust that the journey will show you exactly what you need to open your heart, moment to sacred moment.