The Healing Power of Addiction

Caspar Walsh. November 2018

As a kid, I was into war. I watched the movies and made the sound affects while holding invisible guns; the usual stuff. But when do normal childhood games move into something darker? When does the need for power move beyond the imagination of play?

Having a dad in prison, being removed from too many schools and an absent mother, left me feeling deeply powerless. Not in the way I would eventually understand in 12 Step Fellowship as powerlessness but a sense of having none of my own personal, healthy, life giving power.

My birthright: to know I am welcome here, that I have something loving and real to receive; kindness, consistency, a roof, food. To know that I have something unique to bring to the world. But before I could experience or realise these things, my need to numb myself against the onslaught of the darker world took hold, claws in deep, for decades.

I moved from the fantasy worlds of play to drug and alcohol in my early teens, believing chemicals would give me a sense of control and power. The opposite happened. It was all about giving away my power to something darker back then.

I’ve been in chemical recovery since 1988. Relationship recovery since 2001. Work and activity addiction since 2015. Despite the problems with non chemical addictions, I have also found identity, meaning and connection through my work and relationships, it’s a fine line to walk.

The way the world is, the way our species seems to be walking off the edge of a cliff, can be tracked back to addiction. To the dysfunctional childhoods of humans not loved enough; who then carry that lack of love into the rest of their lives. Creating dark strategies to cope with so much loss and grief and exile. Strategies that more often than not are connected to the accumulation of any kind of external power to fill the power voids inside. But this, true to cosmic form, is a black hole of fear and insecurity. No amount of gathering goods, cash, property, status will tend or heal these wounds to the soul. No amount of power over others will ease it. We will only ever want more.

Only love and care and patience will heal this wound. Only reflection, community and connection.

Take a look at the external manifestations of so many inner worlds. Like the wasted landscape of The Fisher King. The chaos we see on the outside, mirrors inner turmoil. Nature and how we view it is at the heart of this ravaged landscape. We aren’t, as so many believe, disconnected from nature. We may have simply forgotten and need reminding that we are nature. The sooner we realise this, remember this, the deeper our trust and respect for its healthy power will be. When we realise the love we have for ourselves, deep down, a love that has always been there, we will realise and remember our love and respect for the land. And within that, we will see and feel a loving power greater than ourselves and of ourselves; a power indistinguishable from inside or outside our skin. And we will instinctively choose to protect it, ourselves, the land, the earth and other beings.

The solution is in the trees and hills, the valleys and mountains, rivers and oceans. Walking into them, letting the cells of our bodies remember where we were born to be and breathe and connect. Less about the power of addiction, more about the healing power we can each derive from the story of our addicted lives, from embracing our grief and loss. The power to feel and connect and empathise. It’s all about remembering who we truly are, beyond the lies we tell ourselves. It’s about how to meet our human needs to feel real, grounded power. And when our needs are met, the next question is, what unique gifts can we bring to the world? How can we make a difference to the lives of others?