As infants we become attached to our primary caretaker. We call it bonding. As we begin to form our own identity, we begin to detach. We call this individuation. If we do not do this, then we never grow up and become our own person-–the individual we were meant to be.
The process of detachment is called withdrawal. If it happens gradually, in a loving environment, it is hardly noticed. If it happens too quickly or prematurely it has consequences for our future lives.
To avoid withdrawal, many of us turn to other things that we can become attached to and regain that comfort we once knew. As a child, I became attached to fantasies about growing up and finding love outside the home. When this did not happen, I turned to alcohol, food, and, shopping. These things numbed the pain. Unfortunately, I was in so much pain I needed more and more of these things just to survive. I became an addict.
Nature has a way of pushing us to grow beyond our addictions, so often there is a crisis and we have to move on or die. If we choose to live then we must face withdrawal.
Withdrawal is a mental, physical, and spiritual crisis. The mental crisis is denial. When we break through our denial we often lack the willingness to move on. If we win this battle, we move on to a physical tearing apart of our body which is often agonizing. Once we get past this, we find ourselves feeling like we did when we were torn apart from the love we needed as children.
All of this is called the “dark night of the soul.” It is a curse and a blessing. It is very painful, but it is also an opportunity. We cannot go back and get the love we lost, but we can find a substitute.
Initially we think this substitute will be another person. To some degree it is. It is those people who have been through withdrawal and survived.
In time, this is not enough, so we face a spiritual crisis. Are we going to offer our hearts to God who loves us, or are we going to go back to what had never worked.
For me there seemed to be no choice, so after 35 years as an agnostic I finally decided to give God a try. I surrendered in AA to my sponsor and found what I had been looking for all my life--unconditional love that never left. Love that I could tap into daily. Love that was never fickle or in short supply.
I have always wondered if I was chosen to be an addict so I could finally find God. I don’t know. I just know that I got here and want to share my joy with those of you who are still suffering.
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