It has become clear to me after years of working in the field of addictions; trauma can play a huge role in determining whether or not a client can heal. Many clients grow up in dysfunctional families where their parents or caregivers might have been un-available to meet their children’s needs emotionally or physically due to their own addictions or history or trauma. When they are not present for their children, often these children feel invisible and have difficulty knowing who they are. They become completely detached from themselves emotionally, physically, and often spiritually.
One way to get in touch with yourself is to become aware of your body signals and to listen to what your body is telling you. Author Steve Sisgold shared with me that he sees the connection between addictive behaviors, and ways to escape from feeling uncomfortable or painful feelings. Both are repetitive behaviors used to avoid feeling unresolved pain stored in the body. –bottom line, they enable the “user” to avoid feeling difficult feelings. The root addiction underlying all addiction is the compulsive avoidance of feeling–an uncontrollable need to escape the consciousness of fear and pain from something that traumatized your nervous system….and who wants to feel that pain again , after all?
He concurs with me that addictions can sometimes be in response to unresolved trauma and are repetitive attempts to avoid and escape lingering uncomfortable feelings.
In my book, “The Law of Sobriety” I write that the consequences of having a history of trauma can contribute to participating in behaviors that do not resonate with your true and authentic self. You know these behaviors do not resonate with who your truly are, and yet you fall into the trap of repeating them anyway. Steve says you have the choice to either escape those un-comfortable feelings with something self-destructive or something that actually is healthy and nurturing to your mind, body, or spirit. Just like addictions and other self-destructive behaviors are used as numbing agents, why not participate in healthy activities like taking a walk, enjoying nature, meditating, or taking up yoga. When you participate in these new activities over and over again in response to whatever your stressor is, it will replace your un-healthy behaviors with healthier ones. Steve suggests do your best to breathe deeply, feel what you feel, move your body and make a healthier choice.
His book, “What’s Your Body Telling You?” is a great resource for getting in touch with accessing your body’s intelligence and healing the traumas and painful emotions that may be stored in your body.
Once you begin to release the blocked trauma in your body, energy is released making space for a more peaceful journey through your recovery process.