The other night I was doing my normal nightly routine, channel surfing and checking my email/facebook etc., when I saw that Hallmark had a movie on, and I thought, “oh another corny Hallmark movie…well there’s nothing better on so I’ll give it a shot.” Then, I realized about 20 minutes into it, it was the story of Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al Anon, and her husband, a recovering alcoholic, who founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Needless to say all of a sudden I found myself completely locked-in. I’m a sucker for a true story of someone who overcame insurmountable odds.
As I watched the memories started coming back. I started thinking about how addiction is associated with so much pain - pain for the one that is drowning in their addiction, and pain for the one who has to watch. I have been in both positions in my life, and the memories can still bring tears to my eyes.
Growing up I had a mother who was an alcoholic. I had a very painful childhood filled with uncertainty and questions. There were a lot of things I didn’t understand back then, like what kinds of emotional issues my mom was facing, or what codependency was, or what having an addiction meant. But I do remember vowing to never become a slave to addiction. Sadly, I was not able to uphold that vow. By the time I was 18 I was on a path of self-destruction including sexual promiscuity as well as alcohol and drug abuse.
Near the end of my 2nd year of college I discovered I was pregnant. It was a definite turning point for me. Now my choices didn’t just affect me negatively. There was a baby growing inside of me, and he didn’t do anything to deserve alcohol poisoning or birth defects. For some people, for reasons I don’t quite understand, that is not enough to end addiction for them. Try as they may, they won’t be able to quit even when what they are doing threatens the life of someone they love. I don’t know how I was able to do what I did, grace? My crisis pregnancy not only was the leverage I needed to turn my life around, but my son Nick, who is now 12 years old has been one of the greatest blessings in life up to this point. The world will try to tell you that an unplanned baby will destroy your life; therefore you must abort it. For me, having a baby saved my life. I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I hadn’t had those tough decisions to make. Would I be alive? Would I have made it through? Would I be the person I am today, would I have the family I am madly in love with? No one will ever know, but deep inside, I fear the answer to all those questions could very possibly be “No.”
The root of all addiction is pain - and not just any old ordinary pain. I’m talking about deep, horrendous, searing hot pain…the kind of pain that you will slowly kill yourself to get away from. I always thought that pain should be avoided at all cost. Until someone tells you otherwise, it is natural to move away from pain. No one likes it, it’s uncomfortable to say the least and our instincts tell us to run from it. I’d like to suggest however that pain is a good thing.
I remember quite a few years back I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that featured the story of a little girl who had a disease called Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy. This disease affects the sensory nerves that would tell you when something hurts, or when you’re in pain. She had come to the ER with severe injuries, and the doctors found out later she had been taking beatings at school from the bullies, to protect her friends. This episode greatly impacted me because at the end of the show, her injuries are so severe she ends up losing her life. Imagine that. She lost her life because she couldn’t feel pain. In some of our worst moments, I wonder how many people have wished the pain away. How many have begged and bartered with God, willing to make any deal if they could just get rid of the pain. After watching that show, I got the revelation that for my whole life I had been afraid of something that was there to help me. I finally surrendered to the idea of embracing pain. I can’t explain it other than it was like a light switch turning on for me. I suddenly didn’t see pain as the dreaded thing to avoid at ALL costs. Pain was there to direct me, to guide me, to point out what needed change, what wasn’t working for my life. We need pain, without it we die.
I challenge you in this. Change your mind about pain. Watch the video I’ve attached at the bottom of this blog, and decide that from here on out, pain is a tool in your toolbox that is going to move you towards freedom and feeling powerful. Because when you embrace pain, when you listen to it, and let it tell you what to fix, the amazing thing is, it goes away! Drowning it in alcohol doesn’t make it leave, smoking it out with mind altering drugs doesn’t make it go away. Eating until you’re as big as house doesn’t make it go away, and neither does sleeping with a different person every weekend. You can sometimes suppress pain for a moment, but the harder you push it away, the stronger it comes back. Pain is determined to do it’s job.
I want to dedicate this blog to you Mom. I am so proud of you! It’s 2010 now and you’ve been sober for 7 years! I am so filled with joy when I think of all you have been able to concquer. Keep it up, we all love you and I’m so glad I got my mom back!