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Stepping Into Liquid  

What causes us to step into an addiction? We all have them in one form or another. After working for many years in the field of drug and alcohol addiction and mental health I have found that most often it is a search for love. Often those who do fall into the abyss have never thought about what it is like to love themselves. And what pulls them out is finding that it is not selfish to begin falling into love with self.

As a child we are taught not to be selfish. We are told to always think of others first. It is a good thought to avoid narcissism but unhealthy love of self is either an inborn trait (karma) or a lack of love. To honor oneself is so important to our self-esteem and so healing to our inner child. We need to learn that if we don't love ourselves unconditionally, we can't love someone else without conditions.

So, what are addictions? The dictionary gives one definition of: a state of physiological or psychological dependence on a potentially harmful drug. If you look at a drug as something that numbs or excites, you will not only have to add drug and alcohol addiction but also food, sexual addiction or many others. What they fill inside is a longing that is a sense of desperation, not fitting in, or lack of love and a form of abandonment.

Of course we don’t do it for that reason but deep down inside it is our hurt child that acts out, sometimes in an ‘I’ll show you’ attitude. It never hurts them in the same way it hurts you. If you get a sliver and don’t take it out it just keeps festering in the same way if you have a deep emotional injury and don’t take it out, it gets bigger. That is why communication is so important.

My father used to tell me that I shouldn’t eat something because it would keep me from loosing weight. I was never thin enough for him. He was so critical about how I looked that I decided after trying for so long to loose weight and even when I did he wasn’t satisfied (because of a lack within himself from his childhood upbringing). I began eating just to prove that I could. I never felt I could tell him how I felt because I didn’t feel strong enough to go against him.

If we are not open in our communication, afraid to speak our feelings because of repercussions, then we are living in suppression and a lie. When parents don’t speak to their children about their feelings and honor them as separate beings unto themselves, if they treat them as something they own, then they take away their sense of self. We become afraid to speak the truth because we are afraid they won’t love us, won’t be our friend, and in the end, reject us. What we learn is to not speak our truth so we don’t go into that feeling of rejection. We limit our relationship with others (partner, children, friends, family, etc.) so it doesn’t hurt inside.

So when we feel that hurt we may choose to feed our addictions: we drink, do drugs, overeat, or get into a sexual relationship that is not healthy for us. When we don’t have respect for our self then we can’t fully love someone else.

Now is as good a time as any to look into that most important question…do you love yourself? Be truly honest with yourself and answer it with your heart, and then take the sliver out and start becoming healthy.

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