Marie is an incredible woman. Even though she came in limping and in pain, toting an oxygen machine, a seeming poster child for misery, her sweet mischievous nature and twinkle in her eye quickly caught my attention. She spreads joy with her deep belly laugh and plays her bass and harp all over the North Fork Valley. She has every reason to feel sorry for herself, instead, she chooses to live life to the fullest.
In a massage, I gently reached for her neck and she flinched reflexively. I tuned in, asking her about her pain level and she told me a story that literally had me dropping my jaw. Although the details seemed jumbled, the storyline was clear, rock solid, let’s say.
Marie recounts her story like the weather report for the day. She was sitting in her home in Telluride, seven months pregnant, enjoying an afternoon snooze in her Lazy-Boy and unbeknownst to her a huge rock came down the side of the mountain and put a hole in her house and crashed into her chair splitting her skull wide open.
“So, that’s why I’m a little sensitive in my neck”, she says.
I am reeling. I can’t help blurting out this question, “Did you feel like maybe God had it in for you? I mean, this rock came down the mountain and found your tiny little cranium!”
“Nope, Everything happens for a reason. The Lord sure has been good to me. No, I have nothing to complain about. I came out OK.”
Light dawns in my heart. I see that Marie doesn’t feel sorry for herself. What I am finding in myself is a rut worn down in my spirit where I feel sad or sorry for myself and in order to avoid my feelings, I reach for an addiction. Like eating until my belly is so full, just to feel a smidge of comfort. Only, it’s not comforting. It’s numbing and shutting down my creativity and any hope for vulnerable connection. It’s just me and my bowl of ice cream. We all have these addictions and ways that we escape when we feel sorry for ourselves.
According to Russell Brand, who has fought the good fight of overcoming addiction and now advocates on behalf of those working on their recovery, we have two choices: either an altered state of awakening or an altered state of addiction. When we choose awakening over addiction, we get in touch with the feelings underneath instead of numbing and escaping. We can bring awareness to how we feel in our bodies and the reasons for the feelings and we can start to heal.
I talked to a woman at a business mixer last night who shared that she has started drinking more wine since COVID. She wants to break this habit and feel better in her body, regain strength and balance again She said she couldn’t do it on her own. Another woman who has recently started her membership at Wellspring shared that she was creating positive routines with all of her work with the biohacks we offer. After talking about all the positive changes, she is fueled to keep creating more changes. That’s how it has been for me as well. Facing an addiction, understanding its root cause, and then choosing something that is about self-control, awareness, and service changes everything.
Engaging in my community and moving my body are just a few of the ways that I take action against addiction. I am learning to be still and know, truth and love. I just started intermittent fasting at the recommendation of one of our members at Wellspring and it’s making a huge difference!
The first action to take in overcoming addiction is to notice when you are feeling sorry for yourself. In fact, the time-honored Serenity Prayer is all about resetting the direction of your thoughts, and, like Marie, choosing to stay in a place of hopeful trust. Living one day at a time. One moment at a time. Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
May you be blessed with serenity for the struggle, my friends.