Addiction and Spirituality, In Lieu Of One We Seek The Other
Addiction and Spirituality, In Lieu Of One We Seek The Other
By Kailey Fitzgerald
“You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising.” -Rumi
As a young girl, I was allowed the freedom to decide for myself if I wanted to be religious, spiritual, or none of the above. My parents were not religious people, but they were always spiritual. They did their best not to taint my beliefs with their own, in hopes that I would make my own personal journey into spiritualism or find a religion that worked for me. As life went on and I began to experience trauma, my whole outlook on life was tainted. I began to blame the universe for my problems rather than attempting to problem-solve on my own. As my anger grew, so did my disbelief in the existence of a Higher Power.
As my unresolved trauma festered, I began to seek out forms of instant gratification to soothe my mind. For some reason, I never felt like I could confide in anyone. Looking back, I think it was my unwillingness to quit using substances that kept me from asking for help. Instead of a slow decline into the depths of addiction, my substance abuse quickly went from a weekend activity to an everyday necessity. What I didn’t realize, was that with every drug or drink I took, I was building up a barrier between myself and something greater.
Signs of the Existence of a Higher Power
As I got sober, I began to look back on the instances of my life where I could have died, but didn’t. Countless times I put myself into great risk just to acquire my drug of choice. Needless to say, I have experienced many near-death experiences that left me unscathed. I used to identify the survival of these experiences as coincidences or luck, but looking back it’s obvious to me that a higher power must have been looking out for me.
For example, I can still clearly remember the time that my abusive ex-boyfriend had a complete psychotic break due to the mixture of mental illness and illicit substances. In the middle of his insanity, he took a shotgun and aimed it at my head, unaware of who I even was. I remember at the moment, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. His eyes had no life left in them and I was certain he would pull the trigger. I was screaming his name repeatedly, trying to pull him out of his psychosis. Then, all of a sudden, he snapped out of it and put the gun down. In my eyes, that is due to nothing short of a Higher Power looking out for my wellbeing.
To top it all off, the instance that speaks volumes to me in regards to the existence of a higher power is the day that I finally asked for help. I was so full of pride that asking anyone for help went completely against my personality. Regardless, I reached out to my mom for help. I can’t even remember what I said. It felt as if my words weren’t originating from my own brain as if someone was speaking through me and for me. Today, I believe that was my Higher Power doing for me what I could not do for myself.
How my Spirituality Shows up in my Life Today
First things first, spirituality is a forever waving, never perfect practice of faith and hope. Some days I begin to revert back to my old ways of thinking and begin to question the existence of a God or Higher Power. When something goes wrong, it is easy to blame whatever Higher Power you choose to believe in. After all, a Higher Power is supposed to be the one who created all right? While this may be true, humans have free will. Our actions have consequences as well as the way we choose to respond to hardships will foster a consequence. What I have learned, though, is that every negative experience can manifest good. When we choose to work through the hard times, the universe will typically right itself. By that I mean, when we use negative encounters to learn, we can begin to apply those lessons into our everyday lives and prevent more unpleasant things from happening.
I have found that utilizing gratitude is one of the best ways to practice spirituality and build a relationship with a Higher Power. Gratitude is defined as being thankful for the people, experiences and material items in our lives. When you become grateful for all the things around you, you can train your brain to focus on the good rather than the bad. This can cure negative thoughts and reactions, which are thought to block us from improving on spirituality.
For my fellow hands-on type of people, I have found that the best way to practice my spirituality and get in touch with my Higher Power is through meditation. Meditation can be tricky, especially for someone like myself who has a hard time shutting off the noise in my head. Because I have struggled so heavily with being silent and still, I utilize guided meditations and breathing techniques that allow me to be mindful. When it comes to using guided meditations, make sure to set your intentions for your meditation and find a guide who can help you achieve that. For breathing techniques, counting your breath as you hold it in and release it can help stop the noise in your head, the racing thoughts, and allow you to lower your heart rate. Meditation is so important in spirituality because it can help you to learn who you are, what your desires truly are, and what you need from a Higher Power.
Kailey Fitzgerald is a writer in the recovery community. Her life’s passion is to help others who struggle with similar mental health-related issues. She also is attempting to aid in the fight to break stigmas related to substance abuse and mental illness.
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