years present the potential for self-harm to thrive. Our early experiences, for
better or worse, shape us. And sometimes, that shaping can take the form of
addiction. Hypervigilance often results from certain
incidents, in which trauma somehow established our need to self-medicate.
“... When a child grows up afraid or under
constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response
systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed
to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as
if the individual is under extreme stress... Adults with histories of trauma in
childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems.
They may engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions
(e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to
first memory, a traumatic one at that, was when I was three years old; my
parents decided to move the family’s sewing machine from one floor of our house
to another. But they neglected to remove its drawers, filled with hundreds of
needles and pins. Inevitably, I toddled downstairs, stepping on many of them.
was my next memory? I was on the
floor, screaming, while my irritated dad used his pliers to pull out each
needle and pin from my feet.
learned, wrongly so, two main things in that incident: 1) I was “too much
trouble,” destined only for pain and 2) I deserved this pain because I was a
bad girl. And these theories were further confirmed by the constant abusive
tension within my home. Pain and fear were two things which could not be voiced
“Children who have experienced complex trauma...
often internalize and/or externalize stress reactions and as a result may
experience significant depression, anxiety, or anger... even mildly stressful
interactions with others may serve as trauma reminders and trigger intense
emotional responses. Having learned that the world is a dangerous place
where even loved ones can’t be trusted to protect you, children are often
vigilant and guarded in their interactions with others and are more likely to
perceive situations as stressful or dangerous...”*
the coping mechanisms of consumer addiction, emerged in by both my mother and
me. Disordered food, body and weight issues were just the tip of the unhealthy
iceberg. “Consuming” represented the Savior to us: bingeing on comfort food,
shopping, applying any external resource to our pain and fear.
no matter how much- or what- I consumed, I believed the harmful lie: I was bad,
I was wrong, I was to blame. The best I could hope for was to attempt to self-soothe
and create my own version of “something to look forward to.” Addiction promised
to make me feel happy, loved and safe. No one and nothing else would or could.
“The heart knoweth his own
bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.”
about you? What formative experience traumatized you, even to the point of
pursuing an addiction as the healing balm?
it the loss of a loved one?
it poverty or homelessness?
are just a few possible “reasons” why we drink, smoke, inject, eat, gamble,
shop, overachieve and have unhealthy relationships with unsafe people. For most
of us, there exists at least one critical moment which altered us. It changed
our view of self, others and even The Most High.
of us has learned wrong spiritual things; we get it wrong. We get it wrong
because we know, only too well, our own painful experiences.
“The heart knoweth his own
bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.”
we also have the capacity to know something else as well. We have help.
“Elohim is our refuge and strength, a very present help in
is often referred to as “the weeping prophet;” he is well-acquainted with humanity’s
tendencies toward destructive choices.
even in that bleak realization, Jeremiah still asserts the presence of hope,
even in the hopelessness...
“For I have satiated the weary soul,
and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” Jeremiah 31:25
exists a familiar statement about adversity: “The only way out is through.”
means we have to acknowledge and experience the scary thing we fear most.
have to “go there.”
of it is easy; none of it is fun. It’s much more appealing to just turn to our
elixir. Let the drugs, alcohol, food, behavior or relationship erase the pain
and ugliness instead of dealing with our most personal damage.
trauma, perhaps, happened in a second, a one-time event. Or maybe it’s been a
reoccurring, deeply enmeshed pattern still active in our lives now. Regardless,
there is no shame in admitting we are affected. It doesn’t make us spiritually
defective, morally bankrupt or “bad people.” It makes us vulnerable human beings.
vulnerable is not necessarily the same thing as “sinful.” Vulnerable is about
being fragile dust in the sandstorm called life. And our Creator is not caught
off guard by that reality.
“For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”
wounded you? What paralyzed you? What changed you?
the alteration has been, you and I are loved, accepted and deemed valuable by
The Most High.
whatever we have for experiences, He is not intimidated by any of it.
“Behold, I am... Is there anything too hard for Me?”
“Blame holds us back.
Responsibility moves us forward. Constant self-blame is just as irresponsible
as insisting that others are always to blame.”
For those of
us struggling with addiction and disorder, it is not too long before we
encounter blame. It is an insidious creature; it is virtually impossible to
addictive natures are usually heavily intertwined with other complicated life
issues, like abuse and trauma, blame often surfaces as a coping device, used to
enable us to simply function in our lives. Survival is as far as we can go;
healthy flourishing appears to be an out of reach luxury.
quote is a “no brainer,” at least, to our logical minds. It’s that emotional
world, however, which trips us up and prevents us from facing, addressing and
handling blame within our addictive reality, in a healthy manner.
I know this
is a large chunk of the recovery work I, myself, do. And honestly, the jury’s
still out on how well I am doing with it all. Objectivity is quite difficult to
But, a key
factor which helps in my recovery process is that of Stewardship.
“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”
No one is
unscathed by it. It’s been there from the start. Check out the Creation Story
just to see its origins for humanity.
we get too caught up in despair and discouraging feelings about blame, telling
ourselves, “it’s too difficult; it cannot be done,” the challenge invites us to
keep an open mind about the stewardship principle, what it is... and is not.
the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Stewardship is defined as...
supervising, or managing of something; especially the
careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care”
before we get too overwhelmed, we need to recognize the absence of one particular
word in that definition: perfection.
And that has
been a guiding and healing recovery revelation for me: stewardship is not perfection.
important thing to remember in this addiction/recovery reality. In our human,
imperfect experience, there is no such thing as perfectly healed.
“The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a
stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.”
recovery adage I have come across as I bump along in life is this: “Hurt people hurtpeople.” And, of course, the emphasis here, in any recovery domain,
is the necessity of forgiveness. It’s the other side of the blame coin.
over and over we cannot move forward or begin to heal if we refuse to forgive.
And that includes the forgiving ourselves.
And so, the
statement, “Hurt people hurtpeople” becomes the self-inflicted
wound all too easily.
I know I may
be taken to task here for being too self-indulgent when I say, for that reason
alone, our choice to value better stewardship of the blame issue is to our
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as
wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
“And he who had
received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying,
‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been
faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your
I know it may be an
extreme stretch here, but if we view our addiction struggles through the filter
of being gifted with talents, the stewardship principle takes on an even more personal
and meaningful tone. Our recovery is, in fact, the significant soul work we
need to do to better ourselves- and others.
Maybe we can even see
the resemblance to our Savior’s Gethsemane moment. No, we wouldn’t choose this
pain for ourselves; likewise, our Savior, Himself, even tried to bargain
against HIS purpose.
“Going a little
farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass
from him. ‘AbbaFather,’ he said, ‘everything is possible
for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”
Nevertheless, we have
the lives and the struggles we have. So, the question remains: what are we
going to do about that?
The Most High never
placed any limits on the promise of 2
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the
glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to
glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
process is in effect.
We are different today
than we were yesterday.
And tomorrow, we be
different than today.
Blame- of anyone, including
ourselves, curtails the full potential of our glory transformation process. Blame
does not benefit us. Yes, pain happened to us; injustice happened to us. And it
terrible and agonizing. But it is not unique.
“…time and chance happeneth to them all.”
So, if we can challenge
our thinking about the blame issue, taking on stewardship concerning even it, perhaps,
we can view it as part of the deeper spiritual work which has been entrusted to
That’s right, I said entrusted.
Addiction- pain- blame-
the stewardship principle itself- ALL entrusted to you and I right now.