I am not a credentialed expert on addiction; I have not obtained any degrees or certifications on the subject. What I do have is way too much life experience with it, personally and professionally. Addiction and mental illness which are often correlated, have been the bane of my existence practically since birth. I have many family members that struggle with addiction. I have sadly gone to many wakes of deceased friends and family members. As a correction officer, I watched people die of cirrhosis of the liver, AIDS and other drug and alcohol-related diseases. The majority of people incarcerated are there for drug related crimes. I have listened to the stories of struggle with addiction the inmates shared at 12 step meetings and sometimes just in conversation.
I have struggled with the tendency to have an addictive personality myself. The struggle is real, I know. The work I have had to do has not been easy. I have had to take a good hard look at myself and my life. I feel incredibly blessed to have found a healing modality like Reiki to help me let go of the destructive addiction mindset. I’m not saying I don’t still have work to do… I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing. I just know that with the energy work I have done, and doing my best to follow the Reiki precepts, I have lost the annoying, compulsive, addictive thought patterns that used to plague me. And if I can do it, you can too! So while I do not hold any degrees, I feel as though I can speak with a certain level of experience on this subject.
I am currently listening to the audiobook, The Book of Forgiving, by Mpho Tutu and Desmond Tutu. A couple quotes from the book I heard that I wanted to share, “at the root of almost every addicts or alcoholics tragic struggle is the denial of pain.”-“Addiction and alcoholism are just two of the many consequences of what happens to us when our pain and suffering are not healed through the forgiveness cycle.” I highly recommend this book if you are struggling with forgiveness for yourself or others.
The reason I decided to read this book is I became aware recently that I still have some forgiving to do of myself and others. I still have some anger that rears its ugly head. Sometimes I don’t even see it coming. Because I do my best to live my life by the precepts, this is something I continue to work on. Reiki precept: Do not Anger. For anger is an Illusion. Or Just for today, I will not anger. I want to add my personal interpretation of this precept… it could easily be misinterpreted as a stuff your feeling suggestion. I don’t think that is a very good or healthy idea. Feelings of anger are going to arise at least occasionally if you are a human being. I interpret this precept more along the lines of do NOT act out of anger. It means being mindful of our feelings, and recognizing when we are feeling angry. When you acknowledge the feeling coming up, you can figure out where it is coming from and then calmly choose your actions. Or you simply come to the realization it wasn’t that big of a deal and let it go. You know, the whole pick your battles concept. I have found it’s best to calm myself with a hands-on self-treatment, or a Reiki meditation before I have to figure out how to proceed with something that makes me very angry. Taking a step back and evaluating the situation is not something that came naturally to me. It has taken a lot of Reiki, self-reflection and consequently life changes to get here. The deeper I take my practice, the easier it becomes. Before I found Reiki I was angry and reactive. I will share a bit about why…
I grew up in a house where verbal abuse and the occasional physical violence were accepted behaviors. I don’t say accepted because everyone thought they were good behaviors, I say accepted because nobody did anything to change them. Inaction is a choice. There was always a lot of sorries and lip service after an alcohol or drug-fueled conflict but not a lot of behavior modification. There was also a lot of lying, covering up and shame. The “pretending” like everything was okay was always the part that angered me the most! I’m not sharing this information to have a pity party for myself, and I’m also aware that others have had it worse. It’s not about that at all. I am grateful for all of my life experiences up until this point good and bad. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. And while I continue to grow and learn, right now I can say, I love me. There have been times in my life I couldn’t honestly say that. I’m sharing so others can know that they are not alone if they can relate to my experience and as part of my fourfold path of healing. The truth can set you free!
Since becoming a parent myself, I have become intensely aware that the cycle of abuse is easy to fall into if you are not careful. I am choosing honesty, transparency and mindfulness as my parenting style. But I have made mistakes as a parent, and I’m sure I will continue to. So while I am aware that I have held anger towards my parents for a childhood full of chaos and addiction, I have compassion for the fact that they were doing the best they could while battling their demons. Reiki precept: Show compassion to yourself and others. I forgive them because “Hurt people, hurt people.”- Jim Carrey I forgive myself for being angry and struggling with addiction for the same reason. I was doing the best I could till I knew better.
While working as a correction officer, I heard many stories of childhoods that would make your hair curl. It was easy to understand why they were incarcerated. I had compassion for what they had experienced, but it wasn’t improving their lives any by using it as an excuse, as many of them did. I remember telling an inmate that my childhood wasn’t exactly Candyland in an effort to let them know we all have our “shit” without sharing too much. I believe there is some “shit” behind every addiction. We can follow a path of self-discovery and figure out what unhealed hurts we have, and then find a path to healing from our addictions, (I highly recommend Reiki as part of it). Or, we can choose to keep them. I choose a healing journey, and if you are struggling with some addictive behaviors, I hope you do too.