If we were to travel from Los Angeles to, lets say, New York, we would definitely be able to map out the departure, the destination and most importantly the arrival at that destination. In other words, we should be able to trace the journey it took to get from one place to another. We would have to start at LAX International airport in Los Angeles (maybe Bob Hope for you Burbank fans), probably a layover somewhere like Atlanta, Baltimore possibly Newark, New Jersey. Whatever the case, we would ultimately land at either JFK or La Guardia in New York City. Once again the point is knowing how we got from one place to another, plain and simple. We would, in fact, understand the journey we just set out on. We took a trip and that trip started in Los Angeles and concluded in New York when we arrived. We understood everything about that trip. But, what about the trip from emptiness to addiction – how did we get there?
Traveling The Roads From Emptiness To Addiction
It would be an understatement to say that we are ALL guilty of self-destruction or self-sabotage in some way, shape or form, that has ultimately affected our lives in one way or the other. If this does not apply to you, then leave now and consider yourself either “lucky” or “ignorant to knowing” that this truth simply doesn’t apply to you. The truth is, none of us are exempt. As a matter of fact, I believe that wisdom can only truly be gained two ways. The first way is God given and the second is learning from your mistakes, which equates to God given insight anyways, to be able to learn from your mistakes and turn those mistakes into a wealth of knowledge. We all have empty places in our lives. Many of us just choose to ignore it rather than face it. So why is it that we find ourselves so empty that it seems as though drugs or alcohol can seemingly be the one thing to fill the void. More importantly, why do we buy this lie knowing good and well that it is not the truth, but we buy the lie anyway? Why is it easier to buy the lie than to search for the truth? Why are we empty inside? What’s missing? What’s been missing for sometime now?
Let’s look at some possible roads we have traveled with this emptiness that has ultimately led us into a place where we actually believe that the alcohol or drugs (the addiction) could, and would, fill the void of that emptiness or would somehow just magically make things go away or get better.
Childhood Issues – We Have All Had Them!
Many things happened when we were children, or youth, and we have to stop and think real good about these things sometimes for answers about what’s going on today. Many things have happened to us that we preferred to just tuck away and forget about. But these things have gone no where; they are just not in sight, but they are there.
I don’t know anyone else’s story except my own. I don’t know if it happened to you when you were 5 years old, or 7 years old, maybe 11 or even 15. I’m not sure what it was maybe physical abuse or possibly verbal abuse. It could have very well been sexual abuse from someone or molestation or even rape that was the offense. And they got away with it. Someone didn’t believe you when you told them what happened, could have very well been your own mother or father who didn’t believe your story when you told them.
Could have been someone very close to you that damaged you as a child. Could have been something a little more digestible like lack of affection, never gave you praise for your accomplishments, never showed up for anything at school to support you or never told you the words, “I love you”. Possibly never received a hug or a kiss from mom or dad. The list goes on and the point is this…we have never had any closure to ANY of this, so we go on pretending everything is OK. Even worse, we begin to accept this as ‘normal’ when in fact it is anything but that. We are now dealing with a damaged child within us and we don’t even know it yet.
Took The Child Into The Teenage Years – We All Did This Too!
Since the child has continued to grow, so has the depth of the unresolved issues or hurt (which we now call ‘damage’). It is just tucked away real good, but it is still present. It is important to understand the relationship that the teenager still has with the child. The child may have never had a voice or was never heard as a child. Now the child is growing physically. Unless something drastic or tragic happens, such as a life changing accident, the physical body will continue to mature, through puberty and into adulthood. That will not change. However, the psychological growth, or the mentality, has in many ways been affected by traumatic situations as we reviewed in the above paragraph.
Unless there is a ‘debriefing’ or ‘closure’ process to these traumatic events, the mind psychologically is affected and for a better term, it is ‘stunted’. Although other areas of the person psyche will continue to develop, those other areas of damage will continue to be obstacles. The result is the teenager will become rebellious, act out or, in worse case, even self-hurt. These are just a few of a long list, but you should get the point. The teenager is growing into a big child, and the child that had no voice is now the teenager that is acting out instead of talking about it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If no closure has been reached, the child continues to grow.
The Child Time Travels To Adulthood – The Danger Zone
As the years go by with no closure being reached the child continues to act out but now as an adult, who as an adult, has responsibilities of making adult decisions. This is where the conflict comes in because the adult now has that emptiness that has become unidentifiable and the voice of the child becomes prominent in the decision-making. Quick example of what that looks like is this:
You need to go to the store to get more alcohol, but the adult in you realizes that you are too lit (drunk or high) to drive. The child in you, however, says, “oh its just up the street, you can make it, the police won’t catch you!” The adult reasons, “man you should just walk to the store if you need to go that bad, because you might get in a wreck!” The child replies, “man by the time you walk your buzz will be gone, your friends will leave and it will take too long to walk anyway!” So, you listen to the child in you.
That trip to the store was cut short because you didn’t see that STOP sign (being drunk and all) and T-Boned that vehicle.
That childish decision to drive regardless of the circumstances ended up costing you your freedom, your license and your vehicle all in one shot. Does the story sound familiar to anybody? Or at least similar? It was the child that caused this havoc, but it was the adult who made the decision to listen. Make sense??
Realizing The Adult Damage Done From The Empty Child
There’s a million and 1 stories like this. We all have our own. Although our emptiness comes from many situations, circumstances and events that have taken place in our lives the one thing that remains similar in us all is that we have taken the child with us into our adult life and are oblivious to the realization that they (he or she, the child) are still there, now controlling our lives with the adolescent behavior that we should have left behind a long time ago.
But how could we leave a child behind? Wouldn’t that be like child abandonment or child neglect? If we just left them behind? Stay with me… I’m going somewhere with this.
We actually do not have to leave the child behind because the child is us. And the child can live with us. The child just needs someone to go inside and tell them, “It’s OK, I got this…you can rest now!” In other words, the adult needs to step up and say to self, “Hey guess what kiddo? We are gonna do something different from what we have been doing, because playing on the playground all day and taking our chances at life just to avoid the emptiness is not working!”
The emptiness must be confronted, not consoled by our addiction. Our addiction is just one form of escaping our reality. That reality is rooted deep into many previous years before, where no closure was insight or available.
We have to go inside of our self, grab that child inside of us and tell them “I know you got a bad deal when you were young, I know you deserved love instead of abuse, I know there was a family out there who would have loved you, I know you didn’t deserve to be treated like that…but it’s OK now because I am going to take care of us.”
You see, if we don’t go inside and get that child, he or she will continue to act out, and the adult you will pay the consequences for the child’s behavior. We need to look at alcohol and drugs as “the playground” where the child hangs out. If you, the adult, don’t take control and tell the child, “We have to go now” the child will keep you at the playground until it’s dark, and long since closed, everyone has gone home and you and the child are all alone at the playground, sitting on the bench, alone and empty. With that said, the child is now asleep, because it’s really way past their bedtime and the adult has been left alone and empty with the wreckage that has taken place throughout the day at ‘the playground’.
We can now see clearly the wreckage we have suffered, and will continue to suffer as long as we allow the child to keep taking us to the playground.
A famous man once said, “when I was a child I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I acted as a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” So consider this a call to ‘man-up’ or ‘woman-up’…and let the child rest, because he or she is very tired right now…wouldn’t you agree?
Whatever, whenever and wherever we can help speak into your life, reach out…we are just a keyboard stroke away. Don’t forget to leave your comments or concerns.