If you or your loved one is struggling with overcoming addiction, no one needs to tell you that it’s tough – you’re living it. An encouraging word of hope and change can often go a long way to help the healing process – even in the darkest times. With that in mind, Vertava Health often brings to light important and newsworthy topics as they relate to drug and alcohol addiction. Our focus in the month of January continues in a four-part series with an esteemed author and colleague, Dr. Jason Brooks, who will explore the aspects of freedom from addiction. Freedom from Loneliness. “Where do I go? When I’m feeling so lost and I don’t want to be found. When I’m looking and listening for that peace in my heart. But I know I’ll never hear that sound. Where do I go? Where do I go when I’m trying to laugh but all I can do I cry? I’m trying to keep on living because I’m not ready to die. Where do I go because the sun never seems to shine? Can you give me my life back it’s not yours it’s mine? How do I keep going, how do I fight this fight? I’m tired of feeling beat down, but I’m trying with all my might! Where do I go when my head hangs so low? Please give me an answer because I just don’t know! Where do I go? Does it take very long? For me to find that peace and a place where I belong. I need you to help me, help me to take a stand. I’m scared to do it by myself, will you please take my hand? Where do I go? Where do I go? Where do I go? Do you know?” – Lisa Griffin This poem by Lisa Griffin could easily be the hearts cry for so many. The feelings of being lost, seeking and searching but not finding, not knowing where to go, living a life that seems to be constantly in the dark, not knowing which direction to go, feeling defeated…beat down…alone, not seeing an end in sight. Have you ever felt this way? Are you feeling this way now? Often the loneliness we experience begins as children and is a feeling that grows, and sometimes consumes us, into adulthood. Rejection or being ignored by parents, bullying by classmates, not fitting in with the cool kids, not being able to live up to the “perfect image” that society has created to measure your value and worth all play into the experience of isolation. It’s amazing that, although technology has allowed us to be more “connected” today than at any other time in history, we have never been more alone. In the spirit of “sharing”, we have a need to white-wash our lives to be accepted, and in doing so, we become more and more isolated from our true selves and others in our lives. We compare our behind the scenes footage with other’s highlight reels and day-by-day feel less and less worthy and slip further and further away. Not only are we isolating from others, but we’re also isolating from ourselves. As I have helped people from all walks of life, time and time again I hear people struggling to answer the questions: “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “How do I fit in?”, “What is my purpose?”, “How am I making a difference and leaving a legacy?”. Challenges to answer these questions, carrying the burden of being alone, often pushes people to do things to make themselves feel better…even for a short time. The bottle…the pill…the needle are often the insidious paths people find and take to find relief from loneliness. For a short time, we’re able to forget…but what we don’t realize is the prison of addiction we’re building, day-by-day, brick-by-brick, doesn’t bring connection, it only leads to more withdrawal, shame, guilt, isolation…loneliness. No longer can we look into the eyes of those we love. No longer can we look into the mirror. Everywhere we go we’re confronted with the painful reality of the bondage we endure. The disease of addiction has far reaching impact in our lives. It’s not just about the heroin, Oxycodone, meth, Xanax, or alcohol, but it’s also the feelings of being left out and unable to connect. As the drug addiction and alcohol addiction continues, isolation gets deeper…and more substance is needed to mask the loneliness and pain. And so, the downward spiral begins, leading those suffering deeper and deeper into the abyss of loneliness, isolation and illegal drug addiction to mask the pain. While many, many struggling with this cycle of hurt and destruction, countless folks are finding freedom…freedom from addiction and freedom from the pain of loneliness. The key is to take the first step, to risk the potential pain of further rejection, to connect with others who love you, care for you, and can be there to support you. Here are three steps you can take today to start the journey to find freedom from loneliness:
- Rescript. We all have scripts and stories running in our lives that help us make sense of who we are and what’s happening around us. If your script runs something like “I’m not good enough. Nobody will ever like me or want to get to know me”, in essence you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself. Consciously or subconsciously you will place yourself in circumstances and situations where this belief you have about yourself will come true. When you find yourself slipping into the self-defeating talk, take your thoughts captive and immediately replace them with positive, self-affirming ones. If you believe, truly believe people want to meet and spend time with you, you’ll be amazed to see how those opportunities miraculously appear.
- Recognize. We must recognize the importance of connection and community. No one is an island and we were created to “do life together”. We gain emotional energy by being with others. We grow, we learn, we share, we experience…we live. And, because of this reality, it’s important to recognize the importance of quality relationships in our lives.
- Risk. We need to risk stepping outside our comfort zones and pursuing relationships and connection with others. One of the greatest keys is to reject the tendency to anticipate other people’s response to you. Some people will love you…others may not…and that’s okay! We can’t be all things to all people. Find those who share things in common with you and that you can be “yourself” with. When you take the risk, amazing things will happen.
You were never meant to walk alone. You were created with a purpose and you have a beauty to share. Loneliness is one of the greatest pains we can feel. When we don’t see how we matter to ourselves or others, our sense of purpose and being is lost. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of believing you’re not worth having close relationships with others. Relationships are messy…they aren’t easy…sometimes they hurt…they require taking risks…but ultimately, they make us complete.