Life Hurts

"Excuse me while I disappear" - lyrics, Dennis/Brent
"I'm just not feeling it. Can’t do it. Can't face people like this." Life is a race over spiked obstacles, exhausting for no good reason. No care for ambitions. No interest in hobbies. Contentment is elusive. Healing is too slow. Without joy... life hurts and hope is intangible. It's all the same, BUT - relief can be had with sex & drugs, if only short-lived. "Let me do it, let me get my bearings, and THEN I deal with you, the kids, and everything else..." *** The addict has an extreme reaction to life. She suffers from emotional hyperalgesia, i.e. abnormal sensitivity to emotional pain – which translates to unrelenting stress. The experience of living throws her into a nasty undercurrent of fear and boredom. It’s just not pleasant enough. She perceives herself as ill-equipped to handle it all. Gut-wrenching conflicts must be numbed out while she is torn between desires of living and dying, attraction and avoidance, never content with either choice. Struggling with her inner hostility and defensiveness, she is stiff with tension. While the addict "must" self-medicate emotional discomfort any way she can at ANY price at all, some outsiders tell her to "just say No!" It's ludicrous - absurdly irrelevant and unattractive. She seeks relief like a thirsty person seeks water. It doesn't FEEL like an option - she follows her survival instinct and then she fails again and again and again. And the pain threshold gets even lower. Eventually she recoils from life and from people. It's just too cumbersome and shameful. Everyone is tired of behaviors, excuses, and apologies. Aliveness turns noxious. It's not death that she fears... She dreams of a good exit route.*** Her stress tolerance is maxed out on a daily basis. Outwardly indifferent, her system is stuck on autopilot, an endless loop of pleasure-seeking in the vast land of the Hungry Ghosts where nothing is ever enough and the pursued object of desire turns on her.*** Pain is the message. It means there is something wrong. She must attend to it – she feels compelled into action. She is hard-wired like that. Bad and continuous pain is agitating. Driven by the instinct for self-preservation her survival mechanism is activated by unrelenting stress. Getting rid of pain signals "I will live! The danger is over. It's all good." She is exhilarated. Drugs take the pain away and cause more when they are gone. She feels endangered, like she must do something or perish. It happens during detox… Her survival instinct tells her: Drugs = Life.*** Threat and coercion can never do the job. On the contrary, punishment would only increase the need to escape the status quo. The threat of punishment is absurdly futile. Enforcing abstinence is like telling a person with a wounded knee to quit limping, "You gotta quit it with the moaning, the faces, and the limping! It's wrong and forbidden. You will be punished." As soon as you turn your back she'll moan and limp, of course, or she may comply like a dry drunk - bitter and angry. No good. *** Recovery must offer management for the chronic and progressive illness of emotional hyperalgesia & perceptual distortion. She could benefit from mindfulness and other daily mental hygiene tools for stabilization during emotional earthquakes A spiritual connection helps through the path of compassion and acceptance and with that a life of meaning and purpose, where forgiveness replaces resentment and self-loathing. She needs some coaching for life skills, and encouragement for cleaning up the debris from the path of destruction. A sense of belonging with others who relate and understand makes all the difference - within a community of peers who share their experience, strength, and hope, and remind her on a daily basis that it can be done, even when it doesn't always feel that way and, most importantly, that's it's all worth the effort, that she can be lovable and valuable and her life can be worthwhile - that good things are possible in spite of everything that went down.