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Sometimes we just have to hurt

Light in the darkness
Light in the darkness
April Williams

There are times when a life event triggers intense emotional pain. More often than not, these events involve a loss of some kind. The emotional pain can be so deep and dark that we actually feel it physically. We feel raw. Vulnerable. Alone. And we desperately want the pain go go away.

As addicts, our default setting for pain relief is to engage in the addictive chemical or activity of our choice. We learned that booze or drugs or sex or shopping or gambling or you name it...softened the sharp edges of life and made the continuance of living, at least tolerable. But we also learned, that after awhile (and the time varies for each of us) that it stopped working. Instead of having a numbing effect, the pain became amplified. We reached a point where we couldn't imagine living with or without our drug of choice.

So, in recovery, when a painful event happens, our addict who sleeps inside us, wakes up and flexes its muscles. "Come on back!" it beckons. "I can make you feel better." Our addict is strong. And if we have been living a life of recovery, our spirits are strong too. It is at this point that we actually have the ability to make a choice. We can succumb to the addict and go back out. Or we can pick up our box of spiritual tools and go to work. To have this choice is a powerful gift that many of us forget about when we are hurting.

One of the first tools we can use is to remember what it was like, especially toward the end. All the sickness, misery and hopelessness. Would a couple hours of pain relief be worth returning to that agony? When we are being honest and listening to our spirits...we will answer No. It is at this magical point that many people relapse.

After we have used this tool, we can pick up the whole damn box if we so choose and throw it at the problem. We get down on our knees, if we are physically able, and Pray. And pray and pray to have the obsession lifted. We call a friend in recovery. We meditate. We go to a meeting (if your recovery is step based). We help someone. And then we help someone again. This is the way our spirits fight our addict. When we engage these tools, the addict loses. And we get to stay sober and serene another day. Yes, serene. It is possible, when walking a recovery path to stay calm at our very core, no matter what our deep emotions are telling us.

Once the obsession has lifted and the crisis has passed, we can remind ourselves that loss is an integral part of life. It is a reminder of impermanence Nothing in the human, physical world lasts forever. And being clean and sober doesn't make us immune to losses. But with our tools, we can live through the losses with grace, dignity and acceptance. And we can remind ourselves that sometimes impermanence is our ally...these painful feelings aren't going to last forever.


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