Today’s Guest Blogger is Matt Pappas who I would like to welcome once again. Matt writes honestly and insightfully on the issue of addictions.
The more you dig deep in your healing, and peel back the layers of your past, you begin to see more and more how everything is interconnected. This was the case again, when I recently wrote a post about Abandonment Anxiety and survivors.
I wrote about how my past of childhood sexual abuse, invalidation at home, being bullied, and failed relationships are connected with feeling abandoned. I can’t stress enough, that being emotionally and/or physically abandoned can stick with us for a very long time.
In addition to that however, is something else that I personally have experienced in my life. Something that is all too common among not just survivors of abuse, but people everywhere…Addictions.
There are so many types of addictions, but I’ll focus on three in particular that I have personal experience with. Eating, Alcohol, and Isolation.
Eating addiction: I used food not only as a comfort but as a way to escape.
I would come home from school as a kid and immediately reach for the chips, cookies, snack cakes, or whatever was available to feed my sorrow. The world didn’t really seem so bad when I was with something that was always ready and waiting for me with open arms.
That’s how I have looked at food for a good portion of my life. I still find myself doing it now, so I have to be extra careful not to go overboard. My life has been a constant struggle with food and my weight.
Up..down..it’s like a damn yo-yo. And for the record that’s been part of my self-esteem problems that have haunted me for as long as I can remember.
Even today when I go to the grocery store I have to be careful in the “junk” aisle, as I call it. The chips, cookies, and crackers, are so inviting. If I don’t limit myself I’ll end up in a world of trouble and temptation in a hot second.
Alcohol addiction: This one isn’t something I struggle with any more today, but I know for damn sure it was a problem in the past.
After my first marriage ended I turned to drinking to drown my sorrows and numb my feelings. I was a regular at a local bar & grill, so much so that I had my own table. When I came in the door each day there was a beer on my table and a server over within a minute to chat.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that I somewhat of a “Norm!!!” from Cheers. If you have no idea what that reference is about, just YouTube it.
I worked 3rd shift during that time and I would hit the bar a couple of hours before work to hang out with everyone who validated me in a way that I felt I needed then. After work in the mornings, I would come home, crash out all day then wake up the evening just to get ready for work and do it all over again.
Not only was that lifestyle draining my wallet, I would routinely have a $50+ bar tab, but it was robbing me of precious time with my kids. I was so hurt and broken inside that I couldn’t see past my own pain. The satisfaction that alcohol was offering served only to keep me from realizing what I was doing to myself and my family.
I was digging a hole that would take me years and years to crawl out of.
I am proud to say that today I beat that lifestyle with the love and support of my kids, God, and some good people in my life at the time. Today I am able to be around alcohol without any temptations of falling back into that addiction.
For those that still struggle with this, I offer you all the encouragement in the world and the hope that you can beat it!
The hardest one for me, the one that is always right around the corner just waiting to snatch me up and drag me down again, is Isolation.
How easy is it to just avoid doing anything and stay hidden away from that which we fear? The cruel, harsh, outside world can feel like a shark that smells blood and goes on the attack as soon as we venture out of our safe space.
The sharks can be very intimidating and downright scary; circling us and waiting for their chance to devour every last bit of self-confidence we gathered up just to leave the house.
At home, or in the isolation in minds that keeps us from reaching out to others, nobody can see our tears, fears, and total lack of confidence to even look in the mirror each day.
When we are isolated in our safe space, either in our minds, at home, or where ever it may be, it allows us to be alone with the only person that we know totally “gets us”…ourself.
I would challenge anyone to tell me that wanting to be alone can’t be an addiction because I know full that it can be. Isolation is inviting and regardless of how unhealthy it is, it’s very easy to go overboard with it.
If you were abandoned, in any sense of the word, then it’s likely that you have some addictions either from your past or perhaps that you still struggle with today.
I challenge you, just like I am challenging myself, to not let them drag you down and waste one more day of your precious life on this earth. Yes, you heard me, you are important!
Realize that being left alone to fend for ourselves as a young child dramatically changes our life before it even has a chance to begin. That doesn’t mean that we have to just give up, give in, and not try to fight for what we deserve though.
There is hope…there is always Hope!
Don’t let fear keep you at home or you tucked away in the recesses of your mind. Don’t let alcohol be your numbing agent. Don’t let food be your only source of comfort.
You are always worth the effort and dedication it takes to heal and overcome our past.
I’ve also included a useful guide explaining the link between addiction and anxiety.