A game that’s not fun when you’re in it What, if anything do mind-altering substances, therapy and faith have in common? My guess is your answer depends on your perspective. Those that immediately see a connection between addiction, faith and therapy likely have tried some combination of these in their search for meaning in their lives or just trying to somehow turn off the pain they’re feeling. These are the people that have been living life like they’re stuck in a pinball game. Like that cold metal ball, they’ve been mechanically and helplessly bouncing back and forth off drugs, alcohol, religion, self-help or therapy. Just when they think they’ve got something that will work, a safe place to land, they’re helplessly bounced back to that place of disappointment, confusion, helplessness and shame again. Despite their best intentions, they end up landing once again right where they didn’t want to be—in pain.
When chatting in therapist’s circles I’ve often heard, “You can only take your clients as far as you (the therapist) have gone yourself” and for the most part I believe this is true. Although it isn’t absolutely true that you cannot be helped by therapists who haven’t walked every mile in your shoes or lived all of the painful experiences you’ve lived, I do think when it comes to chemical dependency, finding a therapist that has found his or her way to the firm ground of recovery does have a greater capacity to help others battling chemical dependency than professionals who have not confronted the dependency ‘demon’ themselves. As not only a chemically dependent person in recovery but also as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and therapist; it has been my own experience that the best help I’ve received for my own independence from alcohol has been from other professionals in recovery themselves.
The Family Disease and Other Inter-generational Legacies
If you think you might have a addiction problem, from the perspective of having been there and done that, I can help—no matter how deeply hopeless you believe your circumstances really are there is hope, healing and health for you. There is also hope for those important relationships in your recovery like your spouse, children, family and friends. It’s well known that addiction is a family disease, yet too often help seems more readily available for “addicted” individuals than those who have suffered as the collateral damage to the ravages of addiction. There is hope and healing in recovery for those who may not themselves have an addiction problem but are nevertheless entangled in a relationship with someone who does have an addiction problem. To those who feel like giving up hope against the family disease of addiction, there is recovery for families of addicts and alcoholics as well.
Some of us have more than recovery of our own generation to deal with, many of us also grew up either with chemically dependent parents ourselves or with parents who grew up with addicted family members. You may have steered your life 180 degrees clear of substance abuse yourself but despite your best efforts to avoid childhood hurt and pain, the now self-defeating defenses that once worked to protect you from the inter-generational legacy of dependency have caught up with you. Where once you thought you coped well with overcoming the childhood pain of being raised by a chemically dependent parent, you may now be wondering how much you really did suffer from this painful legacy yourself. You may be feeling its time to deal with some of those memories of childhood which are holding you back from having all that you really want your life to become.
What about God and Therapy?
One of the many intriguing sayings I hear from friends in Twelve Step programs regarding God and spirituality is: “There is a God, you’re not it, and its up to you to figure out the rest”. This sizes up nicely how I think spiritually fits in with the therapy I do with my clients. Where ever you are in your faith from atheist, to agnostic, to full committed believer, my only job as a therapist is to help you find your own source of spiritual strength, your own sense of direction that that feels right to you on your way to recovery. One thing most people from any worldview usually agree is that few of us can make sense of this life all on our own and sometimes a professionals help is just whats needed to get your life back on track. If you have any other questions about how I might help you in therapy please feel free to call or email.