Have you ever known someone who has struggled with an addiction?
Have you ever stumbled and fallen down in your own life? Found yourself spiraling out of control because of food, or drinking or even drugs?
photo: Brandi Carlile
When I first heard Brandi Carlile sing “That Wasn’t Me,” I got choked up, and to tell you the truth, even now I fight back tears when I listen to the soulful beauty of these lyrics. Her song transported me back to another time in my life, when I used to sit inside a session room with people who were hurting. Women who were confused by their eating disorder, and didn’t understand their actions, or how to stop them.
And somehow, Brandi Carlile’s song unlocked a flood of these old therapist memories.
Suddenly, I recalled the panicky phone calls and those first meetings as if they were yesterday. Even the song title, “That wasn’t me,” reminded me of the words I used to hear, over and over from women of all ages. They were snippets of explanations, people just trying to make sense of the craziness that was going on in their lives, and so I heard versions of how their eating disorder was really not them.
Typically, they would tell me things like:
“I don’t understand why I do this (binge, vomit, abuse laxatives, starve themselves), it doesn’t make sense, since everything in my life is really good.”
“This eating problem is so unlike me…”
“I hate this side of myself…it’s not who I really am…”
“When I’m in the middle of a binge, it’s just not me...”
“I feel like there are these two parts of me…”
“I know this isn’t about just food. I know I’m stuffing my feelings, but there’s something more. Because I just can’t stop…”
Can you see the aching, repetitive theme in all these statements?
It’s the idea that there’s some dark, mysterious part of one’s Self; a reckless stranger inside us that is on the loose and acting separate from the will of the whole person. Only that wasn’t true…
What was true, was that beneath the cheery face and the “I’m fine-everything’s great” façade there was real pain; and an entire frontier in need of exploration. Wounded feelings and experiences that had been never dealt with, and a despair that comes from not knowing who you are…deep down.
It’s an ironic fact that the road back to knowing ourselves can be through our addiction. Have you noticed this? That it’s those messier times in our lives that lead us to the right questions? Recovering from an addiction is like this, it takes us to the shadowy places inside us where there are hidden gems; honest emotions that shine with intensity. Tender parts of our selves that have been ignored, for too long. For many different reasons.
But we have to desire the truth.
Maybe we never knew how to show our feelings. The ones that were risky. Those feelings that might make someone worry, or get mad. Feelings that might be grossly different than what other people expected. And so eventually, we stop knowing what’s really there, we don’t value these feelings, and we never share them honestly.
Only there’s a pain that comes with denying who we are.
So eventually we need to be distracted, even if the distraction takes on a life of its own. We self- medicate. We look for ways to numb out, we get busy chasing something that makes us feel better, only we need to be the best, the thinnest, the smartest. We need to overcompensate for something that feels missing. And for awhile it doesn’t matter if it takes a toll. Because we get something back. There are always benefits.
The tragedy of addiction is this.
The more we make our addiction the Sun that we organize our life around, and the more obsessively we pursue our “high,”------ the farther away we travel from our core. Our true self. That bubbling wellspring inside of us that is the source of our natural reactions, our fears, our joy, our resentment, our sadness, our own opinions, our gut reactions; all of these emanate from one place. That shiny light inside of us, that is known as Me.
Which brings me back to Brandi Carlile’s song about addiction and the road back.
Listen to her song. She captures how it feels to come back from an addiction, the sensation of being gone for awhile. And the fact that it’s hard to return back to health because there are real people to face. Besides your Self.
There are regrets and shame to trudge through but hopefully, if you’re reading this and you can relate… well, I hope you’re surrounded by people who offer you love and forgiveness.
And not guilt.
Whatever your story is, I hope you’re got people around you who are Real. People who know we all struggle. With something. At some point in our lives.
In the meantime, if you’re still reading this long post, I thank you kindly, and I’ll leave you with this one line from the song:
“Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?”
I can’t explain it, but I’m in love with this little line.
Did you like the song?
I would love to hear your thoughts about this post…Leslie
linking at : http://yeahwrite.me/67-open-hangout/