How Your Addictions Keep You Emotionally Unavailable

Alright, let's just be honest here. Most of us (all?) have had our moments with addictions. A big claim, I know. Here's how I define addiction. An addiction is something we choose to do (usually something repetitive) instead of feeling how we feel. We go outside ourselves and reach for something when we can't tolerate or metabolize the level of emotional stress present in our bodies.

We feel shame, we reach for a drug, food, activity, etc. We feel intense craving or desire, we reach. We feel sad, we reach. We feel anxious, we reach.

We drink, smoke, eat, watch TV, hop on Facebook, watch porn, work long hours, clean the house, shop, exercise, or have sex. We numb out.

When we do this, we are a victim to our feelings. It's disempowering. And we'll continue to organize our life around avoiding feeling the feeing we're not willing to feel.

drinking
drinking

We label the most extreme cases of people who do this with terms like "addict" or "alcoholic."

When we reach, we're medicating so we miss the opportunity to self soothe, listen to ourselves, and build up our empowerment around being an adult and taking care of ourselves. This is NOT an effective way to deal with our emotional needs.

Picture being 5 years old and afraid of the boogey man in the closet. What would a good parent do? Hold you and help you face the fear? Or hand you a drink? (Remember my post on parenting yourself?)

So, where we addict is where we're not available to ourselves. And where we're not available to ourselves, we can't be available in relationship (of any sort) whenever that particular feeling or experience arises.

As an example, if you can't tolerate feeling anxious or jealous, you're probably not going to handle it very skillfully when your partner tells you they're having lunch with their ex. If you can't tolerate criticism or feedback, you're likely not available when your partner has a complaint.

The rub here is that your partner having lunch with their ex or offering you feedback are examples of things that are healthy in relationships.

Your relationships WILL seek out, find, and trigger the shit outta the stuff you don't want to feel. That's part of the path of relationship.

So, before you reach for that whatever-it-is, consider this:

1. What am I feeling inside? Go deeper. Feel your body from the tips of your toes all the way up.

2. Put a hand on your heart, slow your breathing, and slow your thoughts.

3. What would you say to a 5-year-old who was feeling this way. Be loving and compassionate. Say those things to yourself.

4. Practice this consistently. Sometimes this is enough. And sometimes, our emotional needs are so complex or the cravings so intense that we need the help of a skilled body-centered psychotherapist.

5. Leave a comment below. Have you made your way through your compulsions in the past? Can you share other suggestions or your experiences around addiction? Don't forget to check back for my response!

Finally, please share this post (the good old fashioned cut-and-paste way) on Facebook or other social media and share the love.

All my very best to you,

Laura

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