The Addiction to Pain

sad-narcissist-mask

Our lives are full of physical addictions and emotional addictions, co-dependence and the bartering systems this all brings. It is the life of “I want, I want, I want…” Like many unloving things in our life it has become normalised to write lists of what we want in a partner, a friend, a job, soceity: lists of expectations and demands – a sense of entitlement that we have a right to have something, even love.

I have many I know about and many I have yet to discover. Addictions are a part of our facade and come from the need to avoid our fear, childhood anger, terror, shame, grief etc. We want to escape (flight), numb out of (freeze), placate or use aggression (fight) to avoid these emotions. It may have been a coping mechanism as a child, a way to be safe, but even as an adult when we are safe, we continue with them and the fear of emotions even builds up in us and we create more addictions. When we don’t get what we want we get angry, manipulative, sulk, have a tantrum and will even resort to violence. Over time, if our addictions are not met, we can become resentful, bitter and rageful.

Just to clarify expectations, entitlment and demands are the opposite side of the coin where we have desires, longings, aspirations, yearning, seeking and faith. Demands and expectations have no gratitude or love in them, but longings, desires etc do. There is a clip from a Divine Truth talk that explains further here.

Addictions are on Repeat

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein

Yesterday, following a visit with a friend who I see repeating the same pattern and getting the same results (something we have all done many times) and is stuck in a victim mode (which many of us have also been in). I realise that he is in an addiction with his pain and I think I have done similar – it may have played out a little differently in my life, but it is real. What I mean is the pain from our childhood, the past – not pain created by our addictions. Now when we keep doing the same thing again and again it means this is our ‘safe’ place and in the case of being addicted to our emotional pain we stay with what is familiar, what is known – however twisted it can be, no matter how stuck we become. Ironically, it become increasingly painful, because we don’t move forward and sometimes we sink further into deep victimhood and narcissism. It’s an addiction and every addiction is a saboteur in our life.

It’s like choosing to live in a hovel instead of a mansion – “at least I know my hovel, I wouldn’t know what to do with a mansion!” So it’s a fear-based decision and choice not to feel the causal pain from our childhood and and if we are in a state of narcissism and addiction many of the emotions we do feel can be more about our addictions not being met and/or self-pity.

But there’s more…

But there is also more to it – it creates neediness that grows too and this neediness is an energy vampire and in the end people can’t spend too much time with you. They feel drained – it’s oppressive. I have been in both places – the victim of another’s neediness from my mother, partners, friends, but I also developed it too and I’m really starting to feel it’s yuckiness. For me, I have an accompanying large addiction for validation and approval and by looking at that recently can start to see how damaging that has been, even dangerous in my life.

The need for validation and approval comes from not receiving that as children and for myself for example, my parents had little, if any interest in me as an individual, my interests, passions or desires and I was abandoned in a lot of ways. My role was to please and serve and be good. So it comes from a sense of inferiority, but the need for validation can also come from sense of superiority and we can swing between both sometimes.

But an addiction to your pain and this neediness is damaging in other ways because it is manipulative, is desperate for commiseration from others, for attention – the need to be heard. It muddies the waters of our desires. For example, you may have the desire to be a speaker to inspire people and there may be a sincere element to that, but if you have not stopped your addiction to being heard, by feeling the underlying cause, your desire will be tainted, your integrity fragile or non-existent. The speeches you give may appear arrogant or you will get very upset when people don’t turn up to hear you or pay to hear you, or the organisers don’t put you first or similar. It becomes a task to prove, a shot of approval ‘heroin’ you must have, rather than a sincere service to others or a sense of real joy for yourself.

An addiction to pain means you are ‘comfortable’ with being in pain and you don’t really want to change. There is such fear below the addiction: How else will you be ‘loved?’ Who will you be without your story of pain? It can become so important in your life that you identify yourself as the story, rather than the child who experienced certain events. You see the events more than you see the child – the real soul. You can drown in the pain of your story and forget that those events, those things that happened to you, are not you: they are the mud that sticks to you, but you are not the mud: your sense of self is lost.

To be addicted to your emotional pain is a dangerous and helpless place: you are submitting yourself to something that is really temporary as if it is real, alive, all consuming and forever. You are living in a lie and you are open to surrendering your will to it and probably to others, seen or unseen. You’ll do anything to feed it – hurting yourself and others more.

It’s up to me!

This year, I had real epiphany that it was all in my hands (its taken me a while hey!): my responsibility, my choice. Was I going to continue to shrink in a ever painful vortex or was I going really start to apply the things I have been learning?

I have been learning that God gave me all the resources to feel my emotions – importantly to release them: to unload my rucksack of pain, stone by stone, boulder by boulder. I am not powerless! PLUS, God can help me more, when I help myself. I have experienced that: I take a step and then God puts the next one there or leaves me snack on the side of the road…and when I break down my barriers to receiving Her Love, I’ll be able to do even more. But even if we don’t put God in the equation we can choose differently.

We are not powerless, even when we feel like that, it’s not true. We choose in every moment: to feed an addiction or not: to grieve or not; to feel our fear or not; to follow our desires or not; to change or not; to love or not.

Where do we start?

So we can get curious about who is under the mud, get honest with ourselves and look at where our addiction has taken us, ask others what it feels like to be around us when we are needy or victimy. The whole world is in pain, to one degree or another – there is nothing special about our pain in that way and there are many people who have had far worse, but have chosen differently and are a testament to their loving choices. When Nelson Mandela was in jail, he chose to get to know the guards, rather than hate them. He could have sat and felt sorry for himself every day; he could have grown in resentment and he could have demanded everyone commiserate with him. Something tells me, that his following would have been far, far less and the results different than they were.

So we have this gift – the gift of our free will: to choose differently. Addiction or freedom? Reclamation or retribution? Fear or Love?