Many of you probably don’t know what I do – most days, I don’t know what I do because my job can be all over the place. Thank God. Essentially – I wear a lot of hats for a non-profit company that helps create healthy communities through prevention, support, and recovery. I love my job, like woah.
When I first took the job I was aware I’d be dealing with drug addiction, substance abuse, prescription pills, etc. etc….duh, not hard to figure that one out. For some of you who know my past you may be chuckling to yourself – yes, I’m so highly “qualified” for this position. For those of you who don’t know my past – don’t go assuming I was some heroine addict…I wasn’t at all…
But, I’m learning quickly it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that could’ve been my story (Isn’t it so very interesting that which the devil meant for evil, my God has redeemed for good?)
…or really…any of my friend’s stories…or any of your friend’s stories…maybe, it is your story right now. If that’s the case I wish I could reach through this screen, hug you, and remind you how incredibly valuable your life is and how necessary your heart is to the landscape of this World. We need you with us, I promise. We need an unmedicated you so badly. You aren’t a bad person, okay? Believe me when I say that.
I’m not here just to talk to the people where addiction is undeniable – but I needed them to know a couple things. Moving on…
As my job has progressed, and as what I am working on has slowly morphed and changed I have been hit with one reality that I haven’t been able to un-see, and now – I see it everywhere. I almost can’t go a day without the crushing reality that everyone, everyone is using SOMETHING to cope. Everyone is an addict to something…everyone.
It’s easy to look at your neighbor who is drunk at 2 in the afternoon with judgement and label them as an “alcoholic”. It’s obvious when someone is clearly “cracked” out that they probably have a substance abuse problem. It may not be as obvious (because you can’t really tell all the time), but you would still have no problem classifying the friend that’s always on some sort of pill as having a “problem”. It’s easy to look at those people and quickly unidentify with them – because you’re not “ruining” your life with drugs or alcohol. You still have your crap together, right?
Let me remind you of one thing I’ve learned to be true in almost every circumstance – and it most definitely applies here – We are ALL way more alike than we are different. No one is immune to the intensity of being human. Addiction is a result of an internal struggle – and that goes for everyone.
I’ll explain it this way: What is that one thing you could never give up? What is the one thing you reach for when you’ve had a hard day? Or when you’re feeling lonely? Or when the weight of World lays heavy on your heart? Or when you realize that being human is hard? I bet you have something in your mind. It may not be a substance. It may be romantic comedies (don’t judge me – been there, done that). It may be social media. It may be food, or working out, or isolation, or shopping, or – dare I say it – porn?…you fill in the blank.
I remember when I first realized that maybe drinking shouldn’t be a thing in my life because maybe those two glasses of wine after work to “take the edge off” wasn’t necessarily the best way to cope.
I don’t think anyone would classify me as an alcoholic – I don’t think I’d classify myself as an alcoholic, but I do remember seeing blog posts about people who gave up drinking forever and I would think “Omg, I could never do that”. Can I let you know what God pressed into me? And you guys, this one stung – “Am I not enough then?” Ouch. It was true – subconsciously I was telling God that what he had to offer me just wasn’t going to cut it.
I have to be honest here – It’s not like I decided this one day and haven’t drank since. I had some drinks recently…and honestly, I can pinpoint it right back to an emotional “lack” that I was operating out of. I just don’t want to give anyone the idea that I woke up one day and was like “Golly, this thing I said I could never give up was so easy to give up forever. Why can’t you be like me and just give up all your vices so easily?” If you haven’t learned one thing about me in this blog, learn this – I’m sooo stinking human. (Also, I don’t ever say golly, but it seemed like something alternative Meghan might say)
I’ve been there – and not just with drinking, with a lot of things that I could never live without. Okay, memes for example, I don’t know how anyone emotionally coped with anything before memes…I’m kind of kidding…but really, If you’re saying that about something – you should probably try to give it up for a while, try it on for size. Why should your identity be tied to anything external forever? Why should your identity be dependent on anything that is of this World? It’s harder said than done.
I’m not here to condemn you – I’m here to let you know about a freedom that is to be experienced. I’m here to let you know that there is incredible abundance beyond this “numbing”. I’m here to tell you that what God has to offer really can be enough – if you press into it.
So many people want to stop the feeling of any intense negative emotion that they never end up learning what really feeling a feeling feels like. Did I get ya with the feels there? Kinda just felt like Drake, kinda just felt like Yoda. Go back and read it, and try to remember a time when you truly let your body metabolize a feeling. If you have no idea what that means or what that would look like – I promise you that you aren’t alone. Keep reading.
We spend our lives figuring out ways to lessen the intensity of being human that we kind of numb it all. Think about it – we were taught these “numbing” coping skills at a young age – “Blankie” anyone? “Pacifier” please? I’m not saying those are bad things, but I am here to argue the point that a lot of people are walking around using things as a way to feel less. This is ultimately leading to addiction…
As part of my job I am getting trained in the art of Mindfulness. With my yoga background I wasn’t sure than any online training would really be able to tell me anything my amazing yoga instructor hasn’t already, but I was wrong. There’s a lot to be learned there.
During this training I realized that I’ve spent my entire life not actually feeling feelings, and here’s the kicker – I’m like super emotionally in tune with myself. My “spiritual director” (aka my therapist) literally told me I’m one of the most emotionally mature people he’s had the pleasure of working with…I’d like a gold star or a cookie please. I’m like actually sensitive and seek out emotional health and growth.
I’m not telling you this to toot my own horn (believe me, any strength of mine is from the Lord – plain and simple)…but here I’m am so “emotionally mature”- and just two weeks ago I learned for the very first time what living in and truly experiencing a feeling was like. What the what? Something tells me I won’t be alone here.
Let me start with what feeling a feeling IS NOT. Okay, it is not – reacting – even a healthy reaction is a distraction or diversion from having to feel an emotion. An unhealthy reaction is also a diversion, but I bet most people could’ve gotten that one. It is also not – the absence of reaction. Meaning just because you don’t react to an emotion doesn’t mean you’ve felt it. It is not talking about your feelings – this is a reaction. It is not thinking about your feelings – thinking about a feeling can be very deceitful and is often based on perception and not reality.
Okay, so what IS feeling a feeling? Essentially – it’s sitting inside your emotion. Okay, I bet a lost a couple people right there thinking I might even be high right now… I’m not, just follow me for a second.
The next time you sense an emotion or a feeling coming on, your body will tell you before your brain does. Your body will start to actually feel the emotion before you know you are emoting. So for example – the last time I was sad I knew I was sad before my brain did because my throat started constricting, my face started to get hot, and my toes started to ache (okay, don’t even judge me on that one – I don’t get it either – but it’s what my body does – everyone is different so please don’t wait for your toes to hurt). I have a very deep sense of my “neutral” body – so I can pick up on it’s subtle clues when it’s starting to go in a different direction. You’ll want to start understanding your neutral body.
Okay, so I start to sense that I’m feeling something. I take that opportunity to sit with myself and allow my body to fully metabolize this feeling. Okay, guys, it’ll feel worse before it feels better. Let me go back to my sadness example. My body indicates: you’re sad. Then my brain tells me: you’re sad about _________. Then my instinct is to react – either through ignoring (moving on), diverting (social media), thinking (trying to think it through), talking (who can I talk to about this), numbing (reaching for that numbing agent), etc.
BUT INSTEAD – This time I sit. I close my eyes, I focus on what my body is feeling…I’m actually feeling my emotion. It’s hard to put into words, but it was like the emotion kind of made its way through my whole body. Obviously my brain is still going…I can’t shut this thing off, but I’m literally in awe of my body – it is working through this emotion – it is feeling this emotion so authentically. It honestly almost feels like I took a sip of water and then felt it travel everywhere – touching everything. And I think by then I was probably crying because I was really sad, and my body was telling my brain I was sad, and I kept replaying why I was sad in my brain…but then…my body let it go. That’s the best way I can explain it – my body had felt the emotion fully and throughly and then it let it go, and it was back to neutral.
And let me tell you – the realization that my body had fully felt and metabolized an emotion and then moved on was just a crazy sensation. The realization that the only thing that was keeping that feeling afloat was the narrative my brain kept playing was so freeing. Like, my body is moved on, my body fully felt, and has let it go…it gave my brain permission to do the same. And just like that, I was over it. No reaction necessary.
Why am I telling you this? I want to encourage emotional health, and I believe even the “healthiest” looking people you know haven’t spent much time on this, and I believe it’s leading to some serious external distractions and addictions.
So, I challenge you to be really honest with yourself about those things that you’re using to distract, numb, cope, or shut off. What is your “plow” that God is asking you to set down to follow him? I would suggest you ask God to search your heart fully and reveal any idols that you need to lay at the cross.
Be ready to be confronted with yourself, be ready to feel bad about the things you’re using to replace God, be ready to take steps towards giving those things up. Remember that shame is a construct of the devil. God doesn’t want the weight of these things to take you down. He simply wants you to lay it down and follow Him. If you’re experiencing shame in this area, give it to God. Be honest about how you’re feeling, and combat the lies of the Devil with Truth’s of the Lord.
And if you aren’t a Christ follower – I still encourage you to give up something you thought you’d never be able to – and if you find yourself struggling – ask the big Man for some help. Never hurts to try. YA KNOW? 😉