Sometimes I really don’t want to feel anymore because the pain gets too great in my heart and I just want to stop feeling it, even for a moment, which is the very moment when my brain often does its best to convince me there’s an easier, softer way out there to deal with it all. And do you know what nine times out ten that easier, softer way has been in my life? Some type of an addiction.
A long time ago, before I ever became an addict of any sort, I was a very lonely kid who felt pain, rejection, and loss on most days. But, when I discovered the effect that alcohol had on me and how it could take all that pain away temporarily, it immediately became my easier, softer way to handle it each time it came up. I clearly remember the first time I discovered that.
It was the day my mother and father went off to see “Pretty Woman” at the theater because I had recommended it. I thought it might be a great romantic movie to bring them closer together. Sadly, it actually had the exact opposite effect upon my father at least, as he left my mother during the middle of the movie and never returned to her or our home. When my mother came home, I was sitting in one of the family room’s soft chairs just relaxing and watching television. She was hysterical and screamed at her innocent 17-year-old son, “How could you have sent us to that movie?! It’s all your fault! Your father left me because of you!!!” After I had a few minutes to take that in, I stormed into the kitchen, opened up the cabinet, and took out the bottle of vodka, poured myself a drink, mixing a ton of it with a little orange juice. As I did so, my mother asked me angrily what I thought I was doing. I told her, “I’m doing best what you do, by numbing all my feelings.”
That pattern in my life of avoiding feeling and looking for an easier, softer way to cope with all the pain in my life began at that very moment. From then on, my life became a whirlwind of one type of addiction after another for more than 20 years. It really wasn’t until my late 30’s did I realize there was no easier, softer way to deal with pain that really worked, and if I wanted to truly heal from anything, I had to feel.
Most addicts struggle to feel in life with just about everything. It always starts out for an addict with avoidance of feeling something uncomfortable that comes up. Maybe it’s rejection from the family, or at school, or with a romantic interest, or friend? Or maybe it’s not from a rejection at all and instead is from a sense of inadequacy in life, such as a deep-seated insecurity that one doesn’t measure up to the world around them? Or maybe, it’s because of some deep-seated trauma that happened to them, that created a very painful bout of PTSD that still hasn’t been dealt with. Or maybe it’s because of something else altogether that causes them too much pain, so much so that they seek an easier, softer way to deal with it, over and over and over again, hoping to never have to face that ball of pain inside The sad thing that happens though never facing that ball of pain and doing everything one can to avoid it with those easier, softer ways, is that it only expands. That ball of pain grows. And grows. And grows. Multiplying beyond measure until life becomes pain itself and an addict lives in a constant state of looking for easier, softer ways to cope with life itself.
Here is the bottom line. There is no easier, softer way in life that will ever fix pain. The only way to heal from anything painful is to feel it, to walk through, to face it head on. And addicts hate to do that, which is why many never make it through the 12 Steps of recovery and remain clean and sober, because the 12 Step process requires feeling one’s pain.
I’m glad I know now there’s not an easier, softer way out there to successfully cope with all the pain I’ve gone through in life, because I wasted too many years of my life seeking them, only to learn each were a dead-end leading to the next dead-end.
If you can relate, if you are someone who often looks for an easier, softer way in life to cope with pain, please, take a moment right now, breathe, and know the only way you’ll ever get through that pain, where it won’t bother you anymore, is to face it head-on. In doing so, you’ll become a lot stronger in life to cope with the next bout of pain when it comes your way, because pain always comes, but it will get easier to face it, each time you do…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson