For longer than I’d like to admit, I allowed my addiction to hold me in some odd state of self-imprisonment. My seemingly uncontrollable drive to “be productive,” or DO has been my jagged little pill, with edges ranging from ice pick sharp to moderately smooth, but the pill remains.
Here are some observations:
- it does, on occasion still get the best of me
- the more I’ve attempted to manage, control, coerce, or tease-out through logic, the more I’ve failed
- the more I’ve failed, the more I’ve felt like a failure
So, where is the hope?
Look To The Granite And The Onion
The hope begins in the granite: your foundation, your belief system. (Refer to the previous post for more on foundation—do not skip this part. I spelled out my foundation, as did readers within the comments. You must have a foundation first.)
Next, have you identified an addiction you’re struggling with? It can be anything you feel powerless over, anything you know has control over you.
With your foundation and addiction written down, close your eyes and visualize a granite countertop with an onion sitting on top.
In your mind, take your addiction and wrap it around the outermost layer of the onion. Wrap it so tightly and completely that you can see an opaque layer of your addiction coating the onion. Use your imagination to see the alcohol, the gambling, the sugar, the whatever wrapping around the onion until the ends meet. Picture your addiction permeating each layer of the onion, stopping just before you reach the center.
Next, imagine at the center of the onion a diamond. No, too similar in color. Picture a ruby, deep red and absolutely stunning. Let the ruby represent Heaven, Peace, Love, Your-Best-You, whatever you deem as your personal be-all-end-all.
Your goal is to reach the ruby at the core. The ruby at your core, which will set you free.
Clearly, you’ve already put 2 and 2 together and see that you’ll be peeling the layers of the onion back in order to get to the ruby in the center. (Recall, I did NOT have you picture a knife. There is no slicing the onion; there are no shortcuts to reach the jewel! This is for the hard core, want-to-heal person.)
So what do the layers of the onion represent? The layers are your daily practice. They represent Letting Go.
HOW To Let Go
“But HOW do I let go?” A valid question by a reader after reading, “The Window Beyond, A Tale of Letting Go.” In it, I tell a story of a girl who was struggling to let go of her anger and resentment toward an ex-boyfriend. In the post, I shared the first step in letting go, which is to admit it. Admit the truth of a situation—that he no longer wanted to be with her.
In the case of addiction, we are not only admitting our struggle, but we are also admitting we are powerless over our addiction. It’s through that powerlessness that we resign ourselves to trust in a higher force. This is not religion I’m talking about. What I’m talking about folks get too caught up in naming, so I hesitate to call it anything. Call it/him/her whatever you’d like. It’s through this Source we’ll call God, that we are able to Love ourselves. And it’s through loving ourselves that we’re able to Let Go.
As you peel back each layer of the onion, each layer of addictive, self-loathing, out-of-control behavior and thought, Love Yourself Enough To Let Go, one action at a time, one thought at a time. No one ever said letting go was easy. In fact, I’ve never met a single person who said they have totally mastered the art of letting go.** But you have tools! You’re resourceful! Turn to your foundation when it gets difficult. Lean on it when you’re tired, stomp on it when you’re angry, weep on it when you’re feeling defeated. Your granite-hard foundation will not crumble or dissolve. With the firm feeling of your foundation beneath you, then Love. Love and Let Go. Trust you have it in you as you peel back each layer of the onion.
Before you know it, the layers will be so few that you’ll be able to make out the faint red of the ruby—the horizon leading to your inner-Heaven, inner-Peace, inner-Freedom.
Reaching The Ruby
Once you reach the ruby, if you’re able to stay there, GREAT! Share your success, tell your story—you’ll be providing inspiration to others. However, if you’re like I am, like many, the layers will begin to build up again. Your layers come with triggers—alcohol at a party, tight deadline at work, and probably a thousand more. Recognize the seriousness of your layers as they thicken. Is this something you can continue to lean on your foundation for? Or are your layers such that it has become life threatening? For the latter, take your foundation and seek professional help.
Here are some suggestions depending on where you are on the scale (NOTE: for each one, your foundation is paramount—with foundation in hand, use these suggestions as you learn to Love Yourself and Let Go):
- Prayer and meditation have enormous benefit when learning to love yourself and let go. And they’re free! It’s just a matter of doing them.
- For those who find themselves stuck in old patterns and behaviors, if you appreciate a fresh, humorous approach that is both light AND deep (a hard combination to hit, but man, this guy nails it!), check out The Other 999 Rooms. This one is a personal favorite of mine, as it gets me to see things from a different angle, often reminding me to let go of old behaviors or adopt new ones. And I love that his suggestions are so doable!
- Here is a gem, gem, gem—absolutely love this book! Don’t be shocked by the cover, it’s a bit dark, but these aren’t fairytale topics we’re discussing. Addiction is serious. But so is loving yourself. Here’s a true story of how one man learned to love himself back to health. Literally. Click here for a summary of the book and here to be taken directly to it on Amazon.
- If you prefer a one-on-one setting – therapists and coaches are invaluable. These folks have special training to listen to your unique needs, ask the right questions (often the tough questions), and are there for YOUR BEST INTEREST. Period. And now, with Skype, you don’t even have to leave your home.
- If you prefer a group setting – check out any 12-Step program in your area. They offer support for a wide variety of addictions. Never underestimate the power of the group.
**For what it’s worth, I have met one person who said they’ve mastered the art of letting go. I saw her speak in Dallas many years ago—Byron Katie, who was presenting her book, Loving What Is. Although I find it hard to believe that someone has mastered this, I must say, it’s an extraordinary book, and well worth reading.
Can You “Cure” Your Addiction?
Close your eyes and picture it…what are you really afraid of?
Open your heart and feel…can you learn to Love Yourself?
Why not let go?
There’s such a stigma around addiction. Maybe because we don’t talk about it openly. Maybe it seems too scary or too big to admit out loud. Even if you’re not speaking about yourself, you know someone who has or is struggling with addiction. I encourage you to share your thoughts and comments. Through your sharing, that’s how we’re all able to learn, and ultimately grow. Thank you. Love, Leslie