Functional addicts

No matter what substance or person the addict is addicted to, their primary purpose is to maintain a certain high during the day.  They are maintaining that high so they can function.  It does not matter what job they hold, they will be able to hold down a job, sometimes more then one job, and still drink, do drugs, have affairs, work, gamble, take risks and function at a capacity that will allow them to ride under the radar for a long period of time.  It will eventually catch up with them and their bodies will begin to show signs of the addiction.  Their emotional and mental health will give clues to the fact that they are no longer on top of their game.  Functional addicts can maintain and function at top performance for decades before anyone notices, however.  Throughout this period they are making decisions that can influence others and they are sometimes making them solely because they are looking for their next high.  If you get in the way of that you will be crushed.  No one will be allowed to get in the way to their next high.  Whatever addiction it is, maintaining it will become more and more difficult.  Even if the addiction is working, it will become more difficult to maintain that high.  Like all addictions, you need more and more of the same to maintain the high you are used to getting.  Pretty soon your primary function is getting the high and not doing your job.  People will notice.  Your job will be at risk.  That is how CEO’s of great companies become homeless and sleeping on the street.  At the top of their game, they worked their way up the ladder to the CEO position.  They maintained that position for years.  All of that takes time to achieve, even when you are an addict.

Addictions usually come in three’s.  There is usually one primary one and at least two lesser ones, sometimes more.  Giving these things up is difficult because they have been part of your life.  Sometimes they are socially acceptable and it will be even more difficult to change the behavior.  Changing any behavior takes 21 days or 3 weeks.  You will need to actively, consciously work on stopping the behavior and replacing it with another behavior.  You will then need to take another 21 days or 3 weeks to make that behavior a habit.  If you do not do the second part of this, when stress happens you will revert back to your old behavior and the temptation may be too difficult to resist.  We always fall back on old habits during stress.  The idea is to develop a new habit, something we will do without thinking about it.  Relaxing through this change and giving away old habits through guided imagery will help during this difficult change.  This video will help.  Enjoy!


What to change and what to keep

No one can tell you what to change and what to keep.  They may suggest things you need to change based upon what their needs are, but, those are their needs.  Not yours.  Changing old behavior requires an accounting of what you like about yourself, what is working and not harming others, and what is not or no longer is working.  If you are just starting this adventure, you may find it difficult to find anything worth keeping.  You will need to get yourself out of that negative space before going any further (another blog).  All of us have the potential for good and bad.  Most of us do not set out to harm other people.  Some do.  Most of us have made stupid mistakes that have hurt ourselves and others.  If you have learned from these mistakes, you will not make them again.  You will see it coming and stop it before it happens.

A suggestion for starting this process is to make a list of everything you have ever heard about yourself.  Good and bad.  You may want to ask the people who love you to help you with the list.  Then sit in a quiet place and divide the list into positive characteristics and negative characteristics.  The positive characteristics you will probable want to keep.  The negative ones will have to be looked at carefully.  If they are harming yourself or others they should be let go.  If they are characteristics that can be a positive and a negative you may want to decide how you will use that characteristic for good.  An example would be if you are a take charge kind of person.  That is a positive characteristic unless you are dealing with a person who does need or want you to take charge.  Then, in that persons mind, you are a busy body.  You will need to learn  when to step in and when to allow others to handle their own stuff.  Not doing so, whether you feel you could do it better or not, is disrespecting that person and their ability to handle their own lives.  You will have to let go of the need to control everything and everybody.   Most of us have all we can do just to control ourselves.  Focusing on doing just that and getting ourselves straight will keep most of us busy for a long time.  Changing old habits takes 3 weeks or 21 days of constantly not doing whatever it is you are trying to change and replacing it with a new behavior.  It will take another 3 weeks or 21 days to make that new behavior a habit, something that you do automatically without thinking.  Letting go of tried and true behavior is not easy, it has worked for a long time right?  Right!  Well, it is not anymore or you wouldn’t want to change it.  Letting go with the help of guided imagery will help to make you conscious  of those thing you want to change on a daily basis.  This guided imagery video will help.   Click here for the video.    Enjoy!

Self Harming

When I am treating someone who has, as part of their symptoms, self harming, I ask them if they were ever sexually abused.   The other symptoms maybe an indication of other kinds of abuse, but self harming is symptomatic of sexual abuse.  It is the way in which the person is able to release all of the pain that they feel inside.  It will release the pressure that is felt by holding on to the emotional, mental and sometimes physical pain that was felt while being sexual abuse.  Depending upon the age at which you were abuse,  the severity, length at which it lasted and the anguish you felt at the time, you may not remember the event(s).  You may have dissociated. So, a lot of the time the answer to the question “Were you ever sexually abuse or molested” is  “No”.   Not because they are lying, but because they do not remember, do not want to remember, their emotional brain is not ready to remember.  They will have to relive the horror.  So, the emotional brain that is stuck at whatever age the abuse began, is still in control, trying to protect you from the reality of what happened to you way back when.  Self harming is an adaptive skill learned to release the tension that will build within the person trying to emotionally run away from events in their lives they cannot or will not face.  It is also part of a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which is also a result of being sexually abuse or molested.  Self harming is not only about cutting, it is about putting yourself in positions that are dangerous.  Men who have been molested are more likely to do these things to release the tension, but will cut also.  Dare devils.  Women will cut themselves to release the tension.

This is not easily dealt with, it is very carefully looked at, pealing layer after layer off until you get to the core.  Moving too fast will re-traumatize the person, sending them deeper into themselves.  Moving too slow will allow the person to remain stuck.  There is a lot of trial and error and a lot of drama and hysterics that come with the borderline personality.  At the end, if you are using trauma therapy along with dialectical behavior therapy, you can learn another way to be, one that will work in this society.  One that will allow you to be free of the internal tension that leads to self harming.  Free of the drama that seems to be your life, but again for another blog.  For people who have been molested, trust is not easily gained.  A good therapist will know this and know that this is a very long process that will allow the person to become comfortable with you before you can even begin to get to the core issue.  They will need to trust you with the information that you are about to hear. The information that they have been hiding for a long time, even from themselves.  This relaxation video will help to calm and to give away what you cannot control.   Click here for the video  Enjoy!

Life’s burdens

If you are a human being walking around on the face of the earth, you have problems.  You have messed up, made mistakes, done things you are embarrassed about, regret or otherwise wish never happened. Some of us have made really big mistakes and others not so much, but still things we regret. You are not alone, everyone has, even those people who say or act like they never make a mistake and their lives are perfect.  Those are usually the people who are trying to hide the most.  Don’t worry about them, focus on you and owning your own problems and letting others worry about their own.  Everyone has to eventually, it just keeps getting bigger if you don’t.  That does not mean you have to take out an ad in the newspaper and tell everyone.  It means you have to take a look inside and figure out what is yours and what is the other guys.  If you don’t you will never know what to change and what to keep(another blog).  If you are looking at those things as burdens, you have already defeated yourself.  If you can change the language to lessons you will allow yourself to learn from them.  Anything that is looked upon as a burden, makes you want to shrug it off as soon as possible.  Anything that is a lesson is looked upon as something to be learned.  You learn nothing from a burden except how to carry it better.  Lessons allow you to learn something new and to open yourself up to new ideas, including changing what you have always done in the past, but is no longer working for you.  If you are able to learn from your mistakes, whether they are huge or small,  you will be able to grow as a person.  If you are just carrying them around, like the burdens they are, you will never learn from them.  You will just be trying to put them down and not have to carry them anymore.  Doesn’t work.  The only burdens you can put down and walk away from are those that were never yours.  The ones that someone else tried to give to you because they are not strong enough to carry it for themselves.   That would make you their scapegoat.  Stop it.

Learning lessons is not that difficult.  You have to be honest with yourself.  You have to take a look at what part of the mistake was yours and decide whether or not you could have done anything different that would have had a better outcome.  If you have learned what that is, you will do things differently the next time.  There is always a next time.  You will also have to let go of the mistake you made, you will have to forgive yourself for being human and move on with you life.  You may have to forgive someone else as well, do it.  Forgiveness has nothing to do with letting the other person off the hook for what they’ve done, it has to do with your putting down the burden of carry around the memory of whatever happened.  Put it down, the burden of carrying it only hurts you.  Lett it go and free yourself.  This guided imagery video will help.   Click here for the videos  Enjoy!

Being raised by addiction

If you were raised in a home where your parents were addicted to something or someone, you learned to raise yourself. I have written about these personalities in earlier blogs. If you had siblings the oldest usually took on the role of super hero and also the responsibility for making sure the rest of you got where they needed to be, they were the little man or woman, old soul.  The second born usually takes on the role of scapegoat.  They will be held accountable and punished for anything that goes wrong in the family whether or not they actually did anything.  The third born is the lost child and they are usually ignored because they never cause any problems, fading into the woodwork.  The fourth child will take on the role of mascot and supply the family with comic relief, the class clown, will use humor to disengage the tension in the house.  In this family the children usually take on more then one role, but have one as the primary function in the family.  In functional families they also have these roles but they are incorporated into each individual and encouraged to grow within that individual.  They are not splintered.  In a dysfunctional family the parents are not emotionally strong enough to encourage this to happen.  Each child is fending for themselves and volunteer to take on these role because they recognize the need for someone to do so.  They have no idea what they are getting into because there is not an adult present to tell them or guide them.  They are raising themselves.  By the time you are an adult, you have learned a lot of dysfunctional ways to manage your life and often times find yourself in trouble emotionally, mentally and physically.  What used to work in your family does not work in the real world.  You find yourself needing another way to be.  Get yourself to ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), Alateen or Alanon.  You may even want to consider AA or NA because most children from dysfunctional families have learned the copings strategy of drinking or drugging to get rid of the problem.  It doesn’t work, it causes more problems.  You will be faced with getting rid of what is no longer functioning in your life and what you want to keep.  There will be things that will serve you well and want to keep and nurture.  Do not throw everything away all at once.  You are stronger then you think, you have survived this dysfunction!  There are parts of you that helped to get you through, hang on tight to them!  They will get you through this process  too.  You will need the support of the above group(s) and maybe even a good addiction therapist to help you throw out what is no longer working.  Letting go is not easy, habits die hard sometimes even when we want them gone.  Change is scary sometimes.  Trust does not come easy because you learned early some people are not trustworthy, you learned that from your parents.  Let go anyway!  You will like your life and yourself better when you’re done with the process.  This guided imagery video will help in the letting go.      Click here for the relaxation and guided imagery videos   Enjoy!

Living with addiction

Like a lot of thing in life, living with someone that has an addiction to something or someone is not easy.  You can be addicted to just about anything.  I describe addiction as anything that takes you away from your life on a regular basis because you feel like you have no choice in the matter.  This thing or person takes you away from everything that you hold dear or love and consumes your time, energy, money and life in general.  It can be anything or anyone. It takes priority over everything else. Their new job becomes seeking the thing or person to which they have become addicted. Living with someone like that is not an easy task.  A lot of what is their responsibility soon becomes yours to take on, as well as  everything else that actually is your responsibility.  You become the mother and the father to your children.  You are consumed by trying to fix that person and make things the way they used to be.  You make excuses for their behavior to others and are often times the bad guy in situations or arguments.  They begin to consume your life by trying to either clean up after them or prevent whatever from happening.  They will pick a fight with you in order to be able to have an excuse to leave and get the thing they seek.  They will say that they do this because you are not a nice person.  If it wasn’t for you they wouldn’t have to do this.  It then becomes your problem to solve, not theirs.  Don’t believe them.  It is their problem.  Your problem has become them, because you have become addicted to them.  They are consuming you life.  Get yourself to Alanon, Alateen or ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).  You will need this support to encourage you along the way.  They will help you with coping strategies so you do not find yourself old and bitter.  So you are not finding yourself being blamed for things that are not yours to bear.  You may also find a therapist that is familiar with this helpful for your recovery.  Yes, I said your recovery.  You have no control over theirs.  Let it go, let them suffer whatever consequences for their behavior.  They will never learn from their behavior if they keep falling on you.  Your choice is whether or not you are still willing to accept them and their behavior in your life.  Whether or not you are, you will need the support.  You have learned a lot of habits you will want to get rid of and you will need support while doing so.  Your focus has to become you and your responsibilities, not theirs.  They now will need to take on their own whether they like it or not.  Whether you are still living in the same house with them or not.  Getting the support you need does not necessarily mean you have to get rid of them.  If you still love them, you probable won’t want to get rid of them.  You will have to find a new way to live with them.  Get the support you need.  Get rid of the habits you have developed that are not good for your growth.  Let them suffer their own consequences.  Refuse to engage with their behavior.  It takes 2 people to do just about everything in this life, including fighting.  Do not engage.  Let all of it go that is not yours to take.  This guided imagery video will help you do that.     Click here for the videos   Enjoy!

The blame game

It is a natural thing for people to try to find out why something happened to them.  It is part of the process in order for it not to happen again to them.  If you don’t know why it happened, you will never be able to correct whatever your part in making it happen was, and because of that, it will happen again.  That process is trying to find the causal factors contributing to whatever happened.  It is not trying to find blame.  Finding blame is convenient for everyone if you find a person to pin all of the blame.  You don’t have to do anything, change anything, they do.  It is all their fault after all.  Doing that, does not change anything for you, the pattern will happen again and again, until you are able to face the fact that it always takes more then one person contributing to a situation to make it happen.  Even if that contribution was your doing nothing about something you saw or did nothing about it until it was too late.  If you have suffered consequences, then you have had a part in whatever happened.  It is, in part, your responsibility too.  If you change nothing, nothing will change.  The pattern will continue.  You will find yourself in this or similar situations again and again until you change whatever your contribution to this pattern might be.

Looking at ourselves is not always easy because sometimes they’re things there you might not want to know about yourself.  It is no big deal really, you are not hiding anything from anyone, but yourself.  Other people usually know this about you before you do.  They seem to like you anyway if they’re still with you.  Looking at things you do not like about yourself means you have to change something you have been doing for a while, because it has been working for you.  Maybe you don’t want to change it because it is working for you.  If it has been or has started to cause problems for you, you then have a decision to make.  Continue to use this behavior and risk loosing people in your life or change it and find another way that is not hurting yourself and/or other people.  Change is never easy and if you are autistic, you will find it almost impossible.  Change is essential to growth, however.  Change is a part of life and sometimes you have little or no control over that change.  Not wanting to change usually has to do with not wanting to find those things that are contrary to the image we have of ourselves.  We usually paint ourselves as good people.  Some of the things we need to change, we may not consider “good”.  Society as a whole may not consider good.  Forgive yourself for being human.  We are made of good and bad parts.  If we are honest about ourselves, we are changing those things that need changed.  We are all, or should be, working on changing something about ourselves.

Blaming is about looking externally for fault.  Looking for causal factors is about looking internally for your contribution.  It take courage to do so.  It is accepting ourselves good and bad alike.  Changing those things we do not like and nurturing those things we do.  It is about reteaching ourselves another way to do things.  It is about forgiving ourselves for whatever we have done or are at the present time, that we want to change.  It is about being patient while that change is happening.  It is about loving ourselves unconditionally.  It is about not judging ourselves harshly, but looking with the intent to change whatever we do not like.  It is about accepting our humanness.  It is about giving what we do not want away and letting go of our behaviors and patterns.  This guided imagery video will help.    Click here for the videos  Enjoy!