By the time I was 14 years old I had already began smoking pot and drinking. There seemed to be an inner dialogue within me saying “this isn’t life you want”. Little did I know I was starting a pattern of learning to moderate my addictive behaviours.
Perhaps it was delusional thinking for me to think I could escape the trauma of my childhood without some sort of ‘check out’ method. Like many others I was desensitized to my experience. I had my name changed three times by the time I was 14 years old, and I thought that was normal. My parents split when I was 8 and all I could remember thinking “if I was good enough they would have stayed together”. Ouch. No wonder I was searching for a crutch.
That 8 year old and I have spent a lot of time together over the years, learning the truth of every situation in my life. I learned that in reality I cannot take on other peoples’ behaviours. I have taught her the truth about adults having the right to live life on their terms and that although we need things from our parents, they are doing the best they can with the tools and skills they have. Emotionally healthy environments are not a reality for most of us. And that is OK. Parents are just people; doing the best they can with what they have.
I could go on to qualify myself as an alcoholic by sharing the traumatic events that lead down the path of addiction but I think you get the point. Trauma is trauma. Period. Most of you have experienced trauma and perhaps you don’t even know it. Gabor Mate defines trauma as “a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. It pains you and now you're acting out of pain. ... Trauma is not what happens to you, it's what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you”. Gabor goes on to define trauma as a part of you leaving because it’s too painful to sit in your own experience. I think we’ve all been through a situation like that in some way, shape or form. After all, suffering is part of the human experience.
The truth is we use many means of coping with our discomfort. We use food, work, alcohol or drugs, sex, and gambling. I moderated my consumption from switching from vodka to wine, to beer and so on… I tried only drinking only on weekends, I tried only drinking on special occasions. I managed to do that ‘well’ for 10 years.
By 2018, I was ready to give it up entirely. I craved more out of life. I craved to be emotionally free. I desperately craved peace no matter what was going on around me. Like many people, I used blame and defensiveness as coping mechanisms to justify my discomfort. I used this term “the movie running in the background“ to help people identify with the subconscious dialogue playing the the back of the mind. My dialogue said things like “If only I didn’t have the life I had then maybe things would be different for me. This person said this, this person did that, if only these people would do this, then I would feel OK“. I had a belief that somehow my happiness resided in the actions and behaviours of others.
2018 was the year I called taking my power back. The theme of that year for me was personal responsibility. I took radical responsibility for my emotions and how I showed up in my life. The blame game was done for me. It amazed me how good it felt to take responsibility for things that didn’t even consciously make sense to me at the time. I had no idea what that would do for me in the bigger scheme of my life.
Being stuck in the pattern the blame takes every ounce of power you have and gives it to the accused. The problem with that is blame is a psychological mechanism and people stuck in the pattern of blame don’t consciously know they’re doing it, until they do. That’s what happened to me and likely what could be happening to many of you. We don’t purposely walk around blaming others for our misfortunes. However, we do on some level feel victimized by our experiences. Taking radical responsibility for your emotions is a great place to start healing. The more I took responsibility for myself and how I felt, the easier it became from me to change my behaviours and the less I needed to check out from my reality. Taking radical responsibility kept me in tune with how I showed up in life. All of a sudden, I had my power back and I could be comfortable in my own skin.
I feel like I fell into this gap where I couldn’t identify with people that called themselves alcoholics, but I knew for sure that I couldn’t manage the stressors and emotions of life. I knew my life was lacking peace and joy; something I saw many people in recovery had. I went to spiritual training and eventually wound up in recovery rooms - I am what they call a double winner!
These programs have given me a blueprint for life. It allows me to have faith and trust in the journey of life and watch it unfold from a place of peace and comfort. I am able to sit in a place of love with all people without trying to rescue or protect them. It taught me to honour the dignity of everyone around me and to show up in my life from a heart centered place of love. I always wanted to do this, and perhaps believed I was before but I didn’t always know how to. You see, we don’t all have the same experiences in life and our stories are certainly different - but on some level our emotions are the same.
If you desire more out of life and your relationships and your life I encourage you to reach out. We have mixed talents at MST and various styles to our approach with clients. If someone on our team isn’t a good fit, we can help connect you to the right resources to help you find the peace you want out of life.