The Cycle of Addiction

Hi, Boomers,

When I was a practicing drug counselor, I used to say to those I counseled who had drug or alcohol addictions that we are all addicted – if if was not to drugs or alcohol, we were addicted to our behavior.

The birds came home to roost on Saturday when I went to my appointment with an energy worker (yes, there are those who choose not to practice psychology in traditional modalities).  I have been feeling blocked lately, unable to move forward on my speaking journey  due to resistance or perhaps fear.  Facing change is a condition that I am sure we are all familiar with from time to time in our lives.   Change involves making decisions that are difficult for us to make.  Change causes stress.  The question in my mind was how to unlock or unblock my inability to take the next step.  I’m usually resilient and  just leap over one situation and take on another without much thought or process.  Yet, for the first time in my life, I didn’t leap.  Instead, I questioned but couldn’t move.

The woman I received counsel from was recommended to me by one of my yoga clients.  I knew that my client had been feeling unsettled, isolated and unable to get out of her behavior pattern.  Cognitively, she knew that she was unable to move in a different direction but she didn’t know how to get there.  That was me.  But why?

At first I was put off by the term “energy worker.”  I shouldn’t have been because as a yoga teacher my work is with energy – moving it around the body in a dance – a practice – that heals by opening energy centers.  But taking that concept off the mat was something else again.  What I learned about myself was astounding.

Each person lives a life within a chosen orbit – a circle of behavior that becomes in time a comfort zone.  We are students and we study.  We are mothers or fathers and we take care of children and do our jobs and provide for our family.  We usually take no time to reflect, to  understand, to stand outside ourselves and watch ourselves, our behavior patterns.  Patterns become habitual and, therefore, comforting.  But one day those behavior patterns no longer work for us.  Something is not right, not going well, not feeling good.  We see signs but we ignore them.  Negative energy piles up.  Where did all the positive feeling go?  Our path, our journey is not taking us where we want to go or think we want to go.  In essence, those are the signs of additions because we are perpetuating the same behavior expecting different results.  If we don’t take drugs or drink to excess to self-sooth, we act out, become angry or fearful or become lethargic.  That was where I was.

My Jungian therapist used to tell me to sit with my feelings, be with my feelings.  But lately, for several months, I couldn’t identify those feelings even though I meditated and practiced yoga and did what I normally do when I feel unbalanced.  The woman, Lisa, sensed that I was not where I wanted to be.  Through a series of probing questions, she was able to take me through my “orbit,” as she called it – the orbit of my behavior addiction.  How did I feel physically (name the symptoms); how did I feel emotionally (name how I felt); what did I do to continue my addictive behavior (what I always do).  And nothing was working – my orbit was coming apart.  The bookends of my behavior – nurturing/loving and a feeling of helplessness on the other side- did not apply anymore.

This is exactly how a drug addict or an alcoholic behaves but these people get hooked on chemical dependence and until the addict goes into recovery, he/she cannot begin to address the symptoms or recognize problems because drugs and alcohol mask feeling.  Plain and simple:  I was sad.  And I refused to recognize the sadness because I was comforted (albeit falsely) by doing – teaching, writing, dancing, teaching, writing, dancing.  I knew that my life was changing but I wasn’t changing with it psychologically or emotionally.  As a result of this discovery of addictive behavior, I will be able to sit with my sadness and eventually move past it by making honest decisions that reflect a new state of mind and new behaviors.

I told Lisa that I will reflect on this and she told me that we are here and now and to make a decision now when I should transition.  “Name a date – preferably today – and begin to move into the change cycle,” she said.  That was difficult because I still wanted stay in my comfort zone where nothing changes.  She had me meditate and name the date when I will take change my addicted behavior.  I meditated and selected a time.  It felt good to know when, but how would I feel the next day and the next and the next?  I’m dealing with that now and I’m still feeling positive, unafraid, not angry and hopefully moving into a peaceful place.

In yoga, we call this process transformation.





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