Addiction and Spirituality
(This week’s Addiction & Recovery column is hosting a guest article written and contributed by Nicole Lewis.)
“We know perfectly well how to be spiritual. It’s being human that we have trouble with.” – Renee Bledsoe
I used to be under the impression that addiction and spirituality were mutually exclusive. In the midst of another self-destructive moment, I could easily scoff at the idea that someone…anyone, with an addiction, especially myself, could have an iota of spirituality in their body.
Fortunately, I was misinformed about not only myself and others, but about spirituality as well. As someone who has several years of sobriety under her belt, I can stand on the sober side of addiction and say, unequivocally, that addiction and spirituality are inexorably intertwined.
I believe that we all feel the same deep sense of connection; a primal urge that pulls us toward community and fellowship, the desire to feel wanted and accepted by others, and the unwavering notion that there has to be something — more. I believe this is our spirituality beckoning to us. It is the part of ourselves which is connected to all of life. It is the aspect within us which compels us to seek an answer which, at times, feels just beyond our grasp. Addiction convinces the addict that this yearning is something within us which is broken. We crave an end to the longing. We await the feeling of relief which comes from the addiction, even if only temporarily. Caught in the cycle of addiction, we strive only to fill—repair—numb. It becomes easier to live in the certainty of the addiction than in the uncertainty of our spirituality. And so, as the vicious cycle of addiction wreaks havoc on us, we are nonetheless comforted in the brief periods when we have managed to suppress our eternal knowing one more time. We become strangely comforted by our despair and made whole by our torment, for they are certain. It is when the numbness fades and the deep pull returns that we are thrust back into the uncertainty. The cycle of addiction seeks to smother the very essence of what it means to be part of this amazing co-creative experience that we call life.
Through sobriety, I have learned that our spirituality is not something that can be quantified or measured. It is our essence. The longing within each of us is our shared connection to something grander than we can imagine. Admittedly, this can be a scary idea. Nevertheless, it is neither a void which needs filling nor a force which requires suppressing. I have learned to embrace this aspect of myself and by doing so, have become comfortable with the feeling. It is the exhilaration of knowing, at an innate level, that I am safe, connected and loved. Ultimately, the darkness of my addiction could not stand the light of this revelation.
(Nicole Lewis is a life coach. She is a grateful recovering alcoholic with 5 ½ years of sobriety. To connect with Nicole, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)