When Addiction Is An Act of Bravery And Self-Love.


{Photo via Pinterest}

{Photo via Pinterest}

When I was little, I was very brave.

I once jumped off the high dive before I even knew how to swim. I occasionally climbed the tallest evergreen tree to the very top and swung on the vine-thin trunk tip like Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

At age three, I waded out into the lake all alone and nearly drowned — I knew I could not swim. I was not reckless; I knew these actions could result in bodily harm, or worse. I overcame tremendous fear to experience the delight of pushing my little body to its limits.

Later in life I became a dodgy, dishonest, lying, thieving drug addict. This too I see as a courageous act of bravery. I, like all addicts, suffered deeply and was tormented by internal guilt and shame. The drugs served a noble purpose: they alleviated the suffering, if only temporarily.

I, like all addicts, desperately wanted to simply feel better — to know peace and joy. My addictive behavior was born of an incredibly innocent and pure desire to sooth the torment within. My actions were a sick and twisted attempt at self-love.

Dishonest and dodgy addict-like behavior started early in my youth. I was raised in a hippie commune and often we went hungry. At a young age, I started stealing food: the cream off the top of my sister’s glass of milk, a piece of bread. Once I even dared steal a deliciously creamy butterfat pat for my bread.

You see, having a full belly made me feel better.

As I aged, a full belly became prescription-strength narcotic drugs. Narcotics became my buttered bread. I discovered early on that buttered bread made me feel better and the buttered bread I stole tasted just as good as the one given to me and since no one was giving me buttered bread and I desperately wanted to feel better… you can see where this led.

As a child, I risked severe punishment, abuse and even more intense hunger by stealing food. As an adult, I risked a criminal record, jail, judgment and being ostracized. I even risked losing my beautiful baby girl, all to ease my internal pain and anguish.

I understood the magnitude of the risks I took and lived in constant terror; I overcame terror in an injudicious attempt to ease my misery.

Years had passed since my active drug-using days, yet guilt and shame were still frequent visitors. Then one day I recognized my innocence. When I realized that my dishonest and dodgy actions were merely erroneously employed champions meant to comfort and abet my pain, I laughed out loud.

Bone-crushing guilt transformed into wispy white clouds and drifted away, dissolving back into the ether from which they came.

Addictions, in their many forms, are merely attempts at liberation gone awry.

I have turned my back on the accepted societal norm of shame, guilt and judgment surrounding addiction and embraced willingness to see, for myself, the truth driving the behavior: a courageous desire to ease suffering.

I no longer cringe recalling my vile exploits driven by active addiction, but am filled with gratitude.

I now see my addictions as innocent acts of bravery driven by ill-fated attempts at self-love.




Abby Pingree
Abby Pingree spent the first seven years of her life in a hippie commune. She is currently an author, hospice nurse, mother, and student of life. She has made friends with her own experiences with drug addiction, bulimia, dishonest and dodgy behavior by simply telling the truth. She explores these experiences in a book titled: Completion, by C. Abigail Pingree. She now seeks an authentic life. She writes for Elephant Journal and blogs for Huffington Post. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Abby Pingree
Abby Pingree

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