I recently celebrated my “sober birthday.”
It’s a marking of the time I decided to pick up my dying soul and surrender to grace after having a big come to mama moment, when she showed up in my room to wake me the hell up.
I’ve learned so much since that day when I was snapped out of a fog with a $500 overdraft in my bank account, expired tags on my car (always afraid of being pulled over), and barely any food in the fridge.
I’ve come a long way, holding hands with the divine mother, and it’s changed everything. She has taught me many things about the deeper roots of addiction that continue to be humbling teachers on this pathway of liberation that is my sobriety.
There’s this thing called a “process addiction.”
Underneath all addiction, there’s a spiritual and emotional process happening, often rooted in a combination of fear, grief, and shame. It doesn’t always matter so much what we’re addicted to, as much as the internal cycle that drives the whole process along—although the things we are addicted to can tell us a lot about the turmoil we face every day.
There’s often deep grief that hasn’t yet been witnessed and metabolized, grief from not having been loved, which lives at the core of all kinds of abuse and addiction.
A process addiction is like a trauma loop trying to resolve itself in the psyche, but when it’s incomplete, we don’t necessarily have the capacity to know how to tend to it. This is our mother wound, our separation from love, nourishment, and nurturing that would normally support us through our very human and necessary grief processes—the pain of healing and recovery.
Addiction is an attempt at soothing those mother wounds, our disconnection from the earth, from love, and the great mother herself. We try to unconsciously mother ourselves, but instead, create the same bad feelings again and again.
Our relationship with addiction is a repetition of the original loop we are trying to complete—because we don’t know how to grieve it.
So, we beat ourselves up and rinse and repeat. We seek nourishment from toxic sources or from faux love. We switch from alcohol, to pot, to coffee, to sugar, to Netflix, to swiping left and right, to self-help books, to consuming more dharma talks or workshops than we can possibly take in or make sense of.
We are trying to fix the “problem” of our pain.
We laugh about it. Until we don’t.
As long as we believe we need to keep seeking something or someone new, healing ourselves so we can stay in toxic situations, fixing or helping other people to get our needs met, trying to be perceived as “good” to get others’ approval, scrolling and swiping from one hit of relief to the next every day, all day—we will be stuck in a process addiction, which is expensive in all ways.
The earth is clearly showing this to us.
Addiction is simultaneously normalized and shamed in our society. People joke about being addicted to things all the time. But, when we are in the presence of someone who is sober, there is fear…we are afraid of the clear and sane person, not the people who are actually scary.
We raise up the person who left corporate America to become a motivational speaker or new age spiritual teacher after a weekend course, then we are shocked that they were addicted to cocaine, have codependent attachments, are sleeping with students, or are high all the time. They cannot live up to the image they created.
Yet we have little regard for the people who left behind a culture of addiction to find sanity and create simple, loving lives for themselves.
We think followers are more important than actual wisdom.
The same radicalization of recovery steps that is so popular in the United States is also the same system that has conditioned the cultural unconscious about what addiction is and is not, who addicts are and who they are not.
It is a shame-based, fear-based system that removes the substance of choice, yet one remains trapped in the process addiction of feeling ashamed, bad, untrustworthy, and forever enslaved. It’s also a system you aren’t supposed to talk about…according to their traditions. Patriarchy at its finest.
It’s crazy-making how common and normal high-functioning addiction is in many Western cultures, yet anyone who admits it’s a problem is immediately discredited. It drives any internal fear about addiction deep into the unconscious because no one wants to admit they may be struggling, whether it’s with addiction to a person, trying to fix or heal codependency, or something they feel is trapping them in their lives—because to admit this kind of powerlessness or addiction is a shameful thing in our society.
Addiction is a massive problem in our society, and in our modern human condition.
There is a profound connection between all the ways we’ve created possibilities for addiction and the lack of spaces to grieve and heal the deep mother wounds and disconnection from Spirit.
This disconnection from the mature feminine—from grace, from ceremony and prayer, from earth and animals and plants, and from compassion and our benevolent intelligence—can be rebuilt as we embrace our grief to make a better, more loving world for ourselves.
Marion Woodman said it so well, that the mature feminine will rise again through our collective healing of addiction.
Much of my work, as I look at it now, is beginning to build the blocks of a strong foundation for approaching recovery with a reverence and focus on the mature feminine, the mother archetype. She must be resurrected more whole in our psyches because the paradigm of suffering and trying to make good out of what’s not working anymore—it’s gotta go.
We need to get our hands dirty in the earth, to normalize the grief process of change and awakening, and see our wounds as worthy of nurturing and love.
We need to make more in-between spaces, to allow ourselves to be human.
There’s a better way to do this, one that frees us from the entire process addiction so we don’t have to waste our precious time in archaic identities that keep us being afraid of ourselves all the time.