May 2, 2016

Addiction is a Manifestation of this Deeper Problem.

Flickr/J. Chan

Today I dwell in a state of balance, love and connection. I am sober. I have broken free from the claws of addiction and insanity.

It no longer exists for me.

My mind was insanity for most of my life.

It never stopped. I didn’t know I was suffering from disconnection. 

The few occasions I can recall where I was at peace and in the moment, I was snowboarding or traveling. Those were the two things I found in life, amongst all the chaos, which showed me there was a better way to live. Those moments showed me there was more to life than what I was living, I just didn’t understand it at the time, and I certainly had no idea how to maintain it. I knew something was different in those moments but I couldn’t put a finger in what.

Now I understand it was simply connection.

To this day I remember what it was like before I was aware of the flow and balance. Before I was connected, I was clueless.

For most of my life, my head was a very noisy, busy, chaotic and judgmental place. It was hard on me and hard on everyone around me. But mostly me.

On and on it would carry, no matter what I did or said, no matter what I wore or how I looked. I was never good enough, I was always scared, and my head was just always telling me how stupid I would look if I did this, or how weak I would look if I showed that emotion.

It seemed as though my mind would never give it a rest. When I played sports, it was the ongoing “don’t mess up, don’t mess up, if you mess up you suck and no one is going to like you” speech.  At school it was the constant “don’t say that, you are going to sound dumb, no one likes you anyway so why are you bothering” and “why bother you will never do it as good as this person anyway, and no one will like you if you aren’t the best.” At home it was “don’t cry, don’t complain, they aren’t going to love you if you cry and whine,” and, “you aren’t good enough, nothing you do is good enough, you suck you suck, you suck, no one loves you.”

It never stopped, it was always judging.  And I was the harshest judge of myself.

I know, it’s exhausting isn’t it? It exhausts me just remembering what it was like, living with that chatter. Needless to say, it’s no wonder I vividly remember finding the flow like it was yesterday. Of course at the time, I didn’t know it was ‘the flow’ per say, but I became aware that it was something. The first time I felt it, or that I was aware of being in the flow, I happened to be snowboarding, one of my all-time favorite activities. We were going up on the chair lift, and I was thinking to myself, “I wish I could feel like this all the time.”  

I then explored the feeling of ‘this’ and tried to name exactly what ‘this’ was, so I could talk about ‘this’ with my friend. At 16 years old I had zero knowledge of things spiritual or esoteric, so I didn’t know that it was the flow, I just knew that my head was quiet, and for once I wasn’t beating myself up, I wasn’t filled with doubt and insecurity, I wasn’t afraid or threatened, I wasn’t worried about what everyone was thinking of me, and I wasn’t worried about not being good enough or unlovable. I wasn’t worried about tomorrow, nor was I hung up on something from yesterday that I did or said while beating myself up for its perceived stupidity.

For one of the first memorable times in my life, there was no stress, there was no judgement.  There was just this peaceful bliss.

I went on a mission after that. I was determined to find that feeling again—only, I thought I could find it outside myself.

I didn’t know it was connection and that it was within. I sought this connection in all the dark and grimy places life has to offer. Drugs, sex, alcohol, crime. When I put substances in my body I felt something. It wasn’t the bliss of connection I described earlier but it was a comforting euphoria which was better than my lonely, disconnected reality.

So I continued. As my life progressed I went through phases of extreme addiction to the hardest drugs out there, to the sloppy mess of ‘functioning’ alcoholic, to successes and defeats. It was a roller coaster ride. One thing remained constant though: when I was abstinent from using drugs and alcohol, I was maladjusted to life. I didn’t fit it. It felt pointless and meaningless. I felt like an empty shell living out someone else’s existence.

I would try to care. I would try to want this life I saw everyone else living. It never fit. I always went back to drinking and using. I remembered those days and moments of bliss when I would be connected, and I still sought that through all the misery. Yet I never found it out there.

One day, I woke up. I realized I didn’t want to die, and I decided to sober up. I had no idea what was going to happen to me but I kept moving down the path towards a new way of life. I went to rehab and I participated in a 12-step program. I started trying new things people suggested to me, and I started opening up emotionally. I found yoga and meditation. I found my God again.

One day I was sitting on a porch in the late afternoon, the sunlight was streaming through the flowering trees and the warm summer breeze was carrying the scent of jasmine across to me. I watched the light sparkling through the swaying branches of the tree and saw a butterfly. I took a breath and enjoyed the intoxicating scent of flowers on the air. That’s when it hit me like a train:

This was that feeling I had been seeking ever since that day on the mountain at 16 years old! It’s here. 

The very thing I traveled to the gates of hell for was right there in that moment. It’s always right there in the moment as the moment is the only place it can be found. It was connection, and I had reforged mine and it was glorious.

I no longer have a need to seek outside myself for much of anything. I turn within, to the divine spark inside, the one we all have. I no longer need to poison myself with toxic substances, foods, cigarettes, or information. My addictive nature has ceased to exist in the presence of my connection with divinity. (And just to clarify, my addictive nature was a force to be reckoned with—I was a junkie, of the variety who was incapable of stopping even when I wanted to.)

Through yoga, meditation, prayer and service to my fellows I have uncovered the connection which I sought in alcohol and drugs.

For the people who find lasting recovery in 12-step programs, I believe this is why it works. These programs help them connect.

I believe lasting recovery from any problem we face can be found through connection with our divine nature.

Let us connect with one another. If there’s hope for me there is for you.


Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Erin Lawson

Images: Flickr/Sarah Zucca   //   Flickr/J. Chan

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