She Recovers NYC. Photograph by Nina Konjini.

Addicted to Ignoring What I Knew

Most of us who experience addiction come to believe — or are told — that our minds are not safe places to live. We learn we can’t trust our own thinking, that we shouldn’t be alone with our own minds for too long, that ultimately, something’s not quite right, so take caution.

It’s a lie, although not totally.

Nobody should take lead counsel from their mind. Our minds are brilliant and useful and magnificently resilient. But they can also be fearful, repetitive, perfunctory. The misunderstanding is not in the power of our minds, but in the relative power of our wiser capacities: the emotional intelligence of our hearts, the timeless record of cognizance in our bodies, and the infinite, indestructible brilliance of our spirit.

It is ultimately a confusion about who we really are, of course.

We’re taught to pay attention to the mind-voice, to prize the intellect above all, and it becomes the loudest, most consistent voice we know. Down the path of addiction, we become enslaved not only to the thoughts, but to the impulses, too. And oh, they can be unkind. Unruly. Disruptive. Base.

So we hide and we lie, we promise and deny, and eventually we find ourselves displaced, not understanding this can be the best news. Because it is a painful but intelligent design: in order to return home, we must first get lost.

The process of recovery is simply this: we return to what we knew all along. We become relentlessly curious about the small, still voices that reside in parts of us never acknowledged or long forgotten. We get interested in our pain because we sense an alchemy inside. We learn to sit — if only at first by necessity — with our wild, unpredictable energies. And we notice: we are still here. We are still here. We are still here.

Above written by Laura McKowen; Spoken Word by Elena Brower.

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