Things I Might Say to My Old Addicted Self
I wouldn’t change a single thing about my past because all of it had to occur to get me to where I am today, and I love where I am today. I do regret the hurt I caused to other people, but I believe the best way to make up for this damage is to be a more functional human now.
Working with clients still trapped in addiction does get me thinking about what I could have said to the ‘old me’ who was in the same position. If I could go back in a time-machine to when I was say, nineteen, and getting ready for my first rehab, what bits of wisdom would I share with my younger self.
Here are 5 bits of wisdom that I believe would have allowed me to quit my addiction a bit earlier:
1. Trying to Think My Way Out of Addiction Could Never Work
It is now obvious to me that my alcohol enthusiasm was a symptom of something much bigger. The underlying issue was my addiction to thinking. I lived in my head most of the time, and this meant I became disconnected from reality – the more I became estranged from reality, the more I suffered, and the more I felt the need to escape reality by getting drunk (of course, it was my thoughts about reality I was really trying to escape).
I spent years trying to think my way out of addiction – strategizing, analyzing, making pacts, planning, and obsessively reviewing my mistakes. My mental aerobics were just adding fuel to the fire. I couldn’t think my way out of my alcohol addiction because the thinking was the actual problem.
2. Rock Bottom Was When I Decided Enough Was Enough
Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that once things got bad enough, I would easily be able to quit alcohol. I used the excuse ‘I need to hit rock bottom’ to justify my continuing alcohol abuse. As a result of my drinking, I lost jobs, I lost friends, I lost girlfriends, I became homeless, I had multiple mental breakdowns, I damaged my liver, yet it never felt as if I had hit rock bottom.
If I had continued to wait until I had hit rock bottom, I am sure I would have been dead by now. The lowest point in my drinking happened when I was 25 years old when I ended up on the streets. Things got a bit better for me after that, and when I finally quit alcohol for good 10 years later, it was more the relentless misery rather than a specific event that provided the motivation.
I know understand that hitting rock bottom was a decision and not an event. If I had realized this earlier, it would have meant avoiding a lot of pain.
3. Most Suffering Occurs Due to My Efforts to Escape Pain
The thought ‘I can’t deal with this’ has been at the root of the majority of my suffering. It was this unwillingness to accept reality that made alcohol such an attractive proposition. Trying to escape discomfort ultimately just multiplies it – substance abuse, or other maladaptive behaviors, just postpones the pain while also adding to it. One of the most wonderful discoveries I’ve made is that when I lean into the bad stuff, my discomfort is minimized and only temporary.
4. Thinking of Myself as Special Only Leads to Misery
I am a unique person. I am convinced there will never be anyone exactly like me born again on this planet. This doesn’t make me special though because the same could be said for the other 8 billion people living on the planet currently. The fact that we are all unique means none of us can really claim to be special.
Viewing myself as unique but ordinary makes life easier to deal with, and it also means I feel much closer to the rest of humanity. I accept that we humans are fallible, and as an ordinary human, I’m allowed to be fallible too. My job is to be the best ‘Paul’ I can be – I don’t need to be jealous of competitors because nobody else in the universe can do ‘being Paul’ as well as I can.
5. There is Much Better Way to Feel Comfortable in My Own Skin
The excuse I used for drinking was that it allowed me to feel ‘comfortable in my own skin’, but I never actually questioned what it was that was made me feel ill-at-ease with myself. It was only after I escaped addiction that I realized that it was living too much in my thoughts that was the underlying problem – I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin because I wasn’t actually living in my own skin.
If you found this post useful, please consider sharing it on social media.
Other Topics That Might Interest You
A lack of love for the summertime may just be down to personal preference, but it can also be due to an underlying disorder or because we’ve had bad experiences at this time of year. Summer can bring out the worst in us, and this is particularly the case if we have some kind of addiction issue.
In this episode of the podcast, we discuss a wonderful meditation practice that can benefit both the person performing the tea ceremony and those observing it.
There are people who have found ibogaine treatment to be useful in overcoming drug addiction, but it certainly does not appear to work for everyone. There are also potential dangers associated with it that anyone considering it needs to take into account.
Covid 19 has been like a massive storm that has passed through our lives and, at least for some of us, left behind lasting damage. Anxiety issues, depression, and substance abuse may be another obstacle that some of us will need to face.
May is the time of year when one season transforms into another, and this month can also be when you begin your own special transformation.
Easter is when Christians around the globe celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Recovery offers the chance of a new life following addiction. It is a type of resurrection.