Gaze lost in the cracks between dilapidated wood planks on a dirty 100 year old floor, I had lost all grip on the present moment. Detached and floating... looking for a place to anchor down... or perhaps avoiding the anchor all together. The doctor had defined this as a "disassociative episode"... In reality, it was more of an escape... my attempt to rewind or fast forward time... my brain believing that it could. Unable to process the now and looking for an alternate reality in which to wake. If I could create my own reality, I should be able to let go and wake up right where I wanted to be? Right? I should be able to wake in a place where I had not lost... where there was no past to reconcile and no future to fear... where there was only peace and trust.
Why couldn't I find that?
I tried alcohol, I tried drugs. I tried deprivation. I tried indulgence. I tried prayer... mediation even... creation... thrill... fantasy... victimhood... I tried work. I tried anything that I could think of to lift myself out of the physical reality I was in (without really thinking about it).
All this time I was struggling to escape the present in a desperate search for the peace and trust that I thought demanded certain circumstances, but that in reality can only be found right here in what is. I thought I had to escape the present reality in order to create the experience I wanted to have. I was wrong. The magic is in putting the existing pieces together in a way that facilitates that experience right here and right now. It comes from within you. It comes from your own ability to move the pieces around in a way that supports your own becoming. It doesn't matter what pieces you have... you can create any experience you want when you accept them enough to embrace the multitude of ways they can be put together. What picture will you make out of it?
The same story had been repeated in my life time and time again and I had still not come close to accepting it. I had found the present unacceptable, unable to process the steps that had led to it and unable to live with the end result. I had measured my own worth against the current situation and deemed myself unworthy time and again. I had fought against the lessons and resisted the growth. I had buried my head in the sands of ignorance and allowed the waves of uncertainty to drown out my soul. I had buried my purpose... doubtful and afraid... unsure that it ever really mattered... convinced that it was born of my own insanity. I had tried desperately to fit the mold even when the pain of doing so was too much for me to bear.
I was a spiritual being depressed by the weight of my own perceived shortcomings to live that spirit in the world. I was an addict, intent on escape. Looking desperately for a way to escape a deep inner knowledge of the responsibility to share that spirit and the ever-increasing awareness of my failure to do so. For years I denied that.
I denied my own desire to connect... to plug in. I denied the loneliness from feeling unable to do so. I denied that I was the only element that prevented that connection from being formed. I denied the value of growth in the present discomfort. I denied the negative coping mechanisms I had developed to deal with that pain. Every struggle I have ever had in my life can be dissected into an addiction. An addiction to the cage I had built for myself to avoid the rejection of my fullest expression... an addiction to my own self judgement, my own isolation, my own lack, my own ignorance, my own negative thought patterns that kept me from fully expressing and connecting in the world. Every addiction I have ever had can be chalked up to one thing -- the result of ignoring my purpose and the inability to live as I am. Anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, over working, perfectionism -- all symptoms of the same problem. All results of not being ready to accept and express who I am.
The truth about addiction - WE ALL HAVE THEM. Whether that means you are popping pills or spending hours on FB... they exist for all of us. We all have ways to distract ourselves from the now. In my experience, every addiction begins as an escape. An escape from pervading feelings of dissatisfaction or disappointment with what is. There is a perceived shortcoming that creates this dissatisfaction... it could be due to your own lack of self-acceptance or due to what you think is expected of you by the outside world. What are you escaping? Avoiding? Ignoring? The inability to fully accept oneself creates an inability to fully express oneself. The inability to fully express oneself creates the inability to live purposefully and connect wholely... to feel seen... to feel loved... to feel complete... to feel certain... to feel whole. The resulting sense of lack and fear weighs down on us... whether or not we are really conscious of it being there.
Do you follow? Why am I sharing this? Because I believe I have shattered through all of the addictions in my life by accepting the underlying theme, and I hope that sharing it may help you to shatter some of yours. Addiction is a disease of isolation. We isolate ourselves by fearing to express ourselves as we are. True bonds cannot be formed on inauthentic expressions. We must be as we are and love as we are to be embraced as we are.
I used to think that because I was able to put something down, I wasn't addicted to it. This is a lie. What makes a habit an emotional/psychological addiction is not our ability to take it or leave it, but rather, the way we are using it. Anything in your life that you use to escape the present is an addiction... whether you are escaping the present physical, emotional, or spiritual reality, the present responsibilities, the present judgment, the present isolation, the present growth, or the present choice... the nature of "escape" implies addiction. Sometimes it is one specific thing that we really can't find the willpower to do without, other times it's a multitude of things that we use interchangeably to the same effect. Often times there is a physical, chemical, or hormonal layer that we must work through as well. It's not necessarily easy, but no matter how entrenched in a particular addiction you are, digging out always begins with a choice. Next time you recognize yourself escaping, ask, "What am I avoiding?" Ask, "Where am I not fully accepting or expressing myself?" Ask, "How can I grow right now?" Just ask... start the dialogue... be open to any answers that may come, and be willing to reach out for support.
No more burying your head in the sand...
Discomfort in the present is a stepping stone to creating the experience you want in life. Allow yourself to feel and process that discomfort in order to create something better for yourself. A new perspective, a new acceptance, a fresh step. It's there for you. Be open to it. All judgement aside, Who are you? And how can you usher that into the world? Unleash that expression and trust that it matters! It does matter! Life happens... sometimes it hurts... sometimes there's a lot of sharply angled pieces... step back enough to consider what beauty you can create from them. How can you grow? How can you build from it? How can you be through it all? What picture do you want to look at? Be in it and allow yourself to discover new ways to look at it. Let's see what light emerges!