I Am My Friend

ACCUSED

“You are such an ugly pig – you’re fat, you disgust me and nobody wants you” – how many people would stay with a spouse or partner who said that to them from sunrise to sunset? How about a best friend who said to you, when you’re feeling down, “Nobody likes you and everybody talks shit about you behind your back” – would you keep that friend? What about a boss who always said to you, from the time you started in the morning until you went home, “You are an idiot – you never do anything right!” – would that motivate you to do better? Maybe some of us actually have people like this in our lives. But unless someone is a glutton for punishment, not many people would want to be around anyone who constantly puts them down, humiliates and insults them in every way like this. Yet that’s how many people, particularly those in recovery, tend to treat themselves. It’s always this constant, judgmental voice, always accusing and forever criticizing. We would NEVER treat someone we loved the way we treat ourselves. We would NEVER be that insulting or demanding.

FULL METAL JACKET

When I first got into recovery, my self-esteem, self-worth and self-respect were at zero. I was carrying around 100 pounds of shame on one shoulder, 100 pounds of guilt on the other and another 100 pounds of blame on my back. I would engage in humiliating self-deprecation immediately followed by self-pity and despair. I started in recovery with learning to treat myself in a positive and uplifting way with any situation in life that arose. To encourage myself the way a loving parent would talk to a child who is sad. To counsel and support myself the way I would a best friend who is feeling down and struggling. Doing all this with reactions to my thoughts that were positive and interactive instead of just feeling sorry for myself. This really worked. It started to change my attitude towards myself, and life in general, and rapidly created positive growth.

Beautiful teenager girl worried and a boy comforting her

There is enough pressure and demands put on us by other people, we don’t need to turn around and kick our own ass, especially when we’re down. Life can be enough of a bitch as it is, we don’t need to be a bitch to ourselves. We DO NOT deserve that. It’s easy to learn to be a comfort and a friend to ourselves, because that friend is always going to be with us. We need to be our own best friend – we DO deserve that!

YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

Future Forward

FUTURE

We had dreams, hopes and visions of our future, what we were going to be, and how the novel or our life would be written. Somewhere we got entangled in the past, our efforts in the present became devoted to untying that knot, and suddenly our vision of the future blurred. The novel of our life seemed to get stuck on the same page.

Let’s say we were in the east and knew that the answer to all our dreams were thousands of miles to the west, but the only way to get there was to walk. It seemed unfair that some people got to drive or fly into their future on an easy ride, but our lot in life was to walk. Somewhere along the line, we ended up in a long tunnel that stretched for miles. We kept trudging along for years. After awhile we looked back, but felt like we were as far away from the end of the tunnel as we were from the beginning. We ended up walking in circles in the middle of the tunnel, making the same mistakes over and over, and screaming with despair.

TUNNEL III

Finally, with help, we decided to turn around and press on, sometimes even crawling. Eventually we made it out of the tunnel, but as we looked towards our destination, we saw it was still a long ways off. The journey out of the tunnel left us feeling exhausted. We still wanted to get to our western destination, but now 10 years had gotten behind us. We continued walking, but we encountered distractions of life as we went along. When we allowed those things to affect us negatively, we found that we would either be walking backward, walking sideways, or walking perpendicular away from our path. In all cases, we ended up spending all this time and energy just to get back to the point where we were when we encountered those distractions and let them negatively affect us in the first place. We found that it was important to always keep pressing on and moving forward at all times, even when distractions came up. After awhile, we looked back and saw that we had walked for thousands of miles, realized just how far we had come, and how many distractions we had fought through to get where we were at.

BEEN THRU ALOT

We became proud of ourselves and got energy to keep moving on. We also realized that we kept getting stronger each time we moved forward through these distractions. As we got stronger, we were able to walk faster, eventually run, and our destination was getting closer and closer. But we also came to understand that there was tremendous enjoyment in the journey itself. We could still keep moving towards our goal, but we could enjoy and embrace the people, places and things we used to call distractions as we kept pressing on, because the events of our lives were only distractions if we allowed them to affect us negatively. If we embraced them with a positive attitude of gratitude, these weren’t distractions, but fuel for the journey and a source of enjoyment in the journey itself. Wherever we were in life, we were needed by someone then and there.

LIFE II

The more we satisfied those needs, the closer we got to where we wanted to be. Because in the end, happiness didn’t just lie in reaching the goal, but also in the journey itself. It never matters at all how old we are or at what point in life we’re at. We can still achieve what we originally set out to do, if our hopes and dreams were realistic. It’s never to late to chase them. The future we wanted is still there waiting for us and getting closer if we’re walking the straight line and embracing life as we go.

 

 

The War Within

WAR WITHIN PIC III

When we were kids, we just wanted to be liked. We just wanted to be accepted. We needed to be included in the group. We felt the need for approval from others and developed a fear of being embarrassed and shunned from the herd. We had the desire to be noticed, but we still wanted to sit in the back of the room because we were afraid of being in the spotlight. We felt the need to be relevant, but we didn’t want to be called on, out of fear of humiliation. Some of us may have originally been made to feel inferior by a narcissistic parent or siblings, cruel teachers or classmates, or some other trauma. We still wanted to be accepted, but because of this trauma, we wanted to push everyone away so we couldn’t be harmed any more. The social anxiety caused by this was very real and was often paralyzing. Equally real was our scars and the toxic stew of internal battles inside our heads that went along with it.

WAR WITHIN PIC

These childhood struggles and social anxiety stayed with us in adulthood. “Cognitive Dissonance” is an internal conflict of beliefs of ideas. Or it can be called the ‘war within’. All of this struggling and chaos in our heads creates it’s own anxiety and adds to whatever other burden of anxiety we may have been saddled with. The greatest prison we put ourselves in is the fear of what other people think of us because we have that innate need to be accepted. The greatest battles we often face are between what we know and what we feel – between what is perceived and what is real. If we feel inferior from childhood or adulthood trauma, we start to believe we are inferior, and then we start to believe that other people think of us as inferior. That makes us want to push everyone away and isolate, but yet we still want to feel accepted and approved of. So we end up in constant conflict with ourselves. We get stuck in the indecision of fight or flight. Then when we feel we’re fighting a losing battle within our minds and elsewhere, we give in to despair and become self-destructive.

WAR WITHIN PIC II

As a child, I was the only one I knew who didn’t have my real parents, since I was abandoned at birth and eventually adopted by a foster family. They had their own mountains of mental illnesses and split their time between physically and mentally abusing me or being dismissive. I didn’t see other kids treated by their parents the way I was, so I already felt different and inferior. I was always at war with myself, because I wanted to be approved of, but I was in constant fear of being further humiliated and/or abandoned. I found I could escape these conflicts and that reality through imagination (reverie) of being somewhere else, someone else or both. These conflicts in my head continued on into adulthood, so did that desire to escape. Once alcohol and drugs entered my life, I had a perfect vehicle for my mind to escape these conflicts and their anxiety. Eventually my self-destructive substance abuse completely destroyed my life. I asked for, and accepted help to obtain and maintain sobriety. However, the war within continued.

The conflict of wanting to isolate or run, but still be accepted, kept going until I sought therapy. I learned to understand what was driving the battles. I gained an understanding of myself, the childhood trauma that originally created these internal conflicts, and how that trauma drove so many of the bad decisions later in life. I learned how to change my mind by resolving these internal conflicts, one at a time, so my mind was in sync with itself instead of at war. I also gained an appreciation of myself for battling through these horrible wars in my head and still functioning in life. Most importantly, I actually learned to like myself, developed an admiration for my resolve and an approval of myself, which was the key. I then used that same knowledge to gain understanding of other people and realized most were also struggling with similar things, being driven by their inherited genes, personality traits they were born with and whatever the events of their childhoods created. Even the born beautiful people struggle with these issues. Everybody and their situations are different, so comparing myself to other people as a means of self-approval was wasting my time and energy. So with the understanding and realization that other people struggled with being liked and accepted as well, I no longer felt my survival depended on the validation of others, since they were just trying to survive as well.

NO IDEA WHATS GOING ON

One small step of understanding at a time, we can resolve these internal conflicts, learn to approve of ourselves, escape from that prison of other people’s opinion of us, and the need for their validation. If we approve of ourselves, we don’t need to obtain the approval of other people any more, nor do we need to escape. We can create a peace within our mind, instead of a war.

LOVE YOURSELF

Leaving The Island Of Addiction

CASTAWAY IMAGE II

In the movie “Castaway”, the main character is the sole survivor of a plane crash and ends up stranded on a deserted island, where he is the only other living thing on the island. He ends up creating a friend out of a volleyball that he names “Wilson”. It takes him over a year, but he finally figures out a way to construct a raft and use the wind and the tide to get him off the island. But as he’s leaving the island, he looks back on the horrible place he’d been stranded on. Rather than joy about leaving, he’s filled with intense sadness. He was going away from the place he had called home for such a long time and he was sad and distraught to leave that life behind. He could have easily given in to his sadness and returned to his island home. But his desire to get the life back, that he had before the plane crash, was greater than his desire to stay in the place he had become attached to. He also ends up losing Wilson, his fake friend, which was devastating to him. Once he was rescued and given his life back, he found that his past life and all the people had changed. But regardless of that, he learned he now had joy in the simple things in his life, like just being able to drive, and having appreciation for the small things he used to take for granted, like just having an ample supply of drinkable water.

When I first attempted sobriety, I was afraid to leave that life and completely close the door to the alcohol and drugs that I called ‘friend’. Somewhere in my mind, I always wanted to keep the escape hatch open for returning to using, so that I wasn’t saying goodbye forever. I kept looking back, which made it impossible for me to completely give it up, so I always ended up relapsing and returning to alcohol and drugs. Once I did finally decide to really say goodbye to my deserted island of alcohol and drugs, sail into sobriety and leave that life behind, I was filled with sadness and emptiness. My alcoholism and addiction had isolated myself from everyone, alcohol/drugs had become my pretend friend, and using had become my home. So there I was, saying goodbye to my drug/alcohol friend, leaving the using that made me feel safe, losing my alcohol/drug support system, and giving up my escape route. It felt like I was losing everything, even though I really had nothing left. I could have given in and returned to my ‘home’ , but the desire to get my life back, that I had before alcoholism and addiction, became greater than the desire to remain on my island of using. I think that was ultimately one of the main catalysts for my recovery. That, and I could no longer stand being stranded and alone on that miserable deserted island hell of alcoholism and addiction. So I was finally willing to put pride aside, ask for and accept rescue. Most importantly, to accept the help that was offered, not just on my terms, in my way and how I felt it should be, but in the way and on the terms of the people who were offering me rescue.

ASKING FOR HELP

Once I reached out for help, allowed myself to be rescued, got sober, and got my life back, I felt that the people in my life had changed. In reality, the people were all still the same, but my outlook on life, and how I viewed everybody in my life, had changed. I found that I now had a deep appreciation for the small things in the present moment, especially vis a vis my life on the deserted island of addiction and alcoholism that I had left behind. There was no longer regret about leaving that life, no agonizing over what I had done in the past, and no worrying about the future. I was just happy for all the things I had in life, not what I wished I would have or could have had, but what I actually did have right now. I now appreciated all the people in my life, happy to just be alive, in the here and now. I set down all the weight of shame, blame, resentments and guilt I had been carrying around, and started walking. I was delighted to be on the solid land of sobriety, with the return of all the possibilities and freedoms I had lost, but which I now had back again.

FREEDOM

Forget The Past

Driving vehicle through Grand Teton National Park

Our past wants to always follow us around and rear it’s ugly head at the worst possible time. If we’re having an unusually bad day, we’ll get a call from a family member who caused (or causes) us trauma, making our bad day worse. We might be feeling particularly great on a certain day and someone will bring up something from our past that we’re ashamed of or feel guilty about, souring our mood. Or we might run into an ex, where just the sight of them brings back all the feelings of hurt, anger, sadness and despair we felt when the break up occurred, making us feel like we’re going through it all over again. Then we might run into an acquaintance from our alcoholism or drug addiction days, offering to reacquaint us with our drug(s) of choice. We try so desperately to move forward and beyond our past, but it seems to keep reappearing like an evil apparition, trying to re-accuse us of our perceived failures and drag us back into them. It makes us dream of moving to a place far away, where nobody knows us and we’ll be safe from our past. The problem is our mind stays with us wherever we go and we can’t run from that.

Whenever I’m having a miserable day, filled with stress, at the worst possible moment, I’ll get a call or text from a family member trying to obligate (guilt) me into being face-to-face with perpetrators of my childhood trauma. If I’m feeling on top of the world on another day, someone will bring up the bad things I did during my days of alcoholism and drug abuse, flooding my mind with feelings of shame and guilt. The timing of the past, climbing up into my face, appears to be impeccably bad, always trying to hold me down and keep me back.

 

GOING TO BE USED TO BE

One of the first things my therapist did to help me deal with the past, was to address each traumatic event from childhood or adulthood, as a separate and distinct thing, rather than looking at all these things as one giant 500 pound gorilla that I needed to defeat. She helped me address these individual traumas, process them, and compartmentalize them. She actually gave me glass jars where I would physically imagine putting traumatic memories or events into the jars, seal them up and put them on a shelf. I could still look at them, but they were sealed in a jar where they could never harm me. She also helped me give humorous character voices to the people from my past, or even to my own internal accusing voice, to remove their control and steer my mind onto new positive mind pathways in the present. The whole point was to take away the power of the past by learning to walking right by it, instead of letting it drag me back down to it. I never try to either avoid or confront my past. I simply acknowledge it and step around it if it’s in my face, brush it aside and thereby keeping myself in solid control of the present.

YESTERDAYS JUNK

We never need to be tethered to our past like we’re connected to it by some barbed wire umbilical cord. The past is only useful to look at it for the purposes of learning from it, but never to stare at it. For instance, early in recovery if I was having a “trigger” moment where I felt like using, I would immediately take myself back to my final relapse with the feelings of overwhelming anxiety, shame, guilt, and physical misery of that moment. Then I would play the present forward, using the memory of the past, and what would happen if I were to give in to that trigger.

All of us in recovery put every ounce of ourselves into obtaining and maintaining sobriety. We never need to be ashamed of our alcoholism or addiction. We all know the hell that we went through to obtain our sobriety and what it takes to maintain it. Getting sober is something to be damn proud of and to wear as a badge of honor.

RECOVERY IS BADASS

Why let our past be shackled to our ankles like an anvil and sucking the life out of the present? We never, ever need to allow people, places or things from the past to poison what we’re doing today. None of those things has any power over us, except what we give them. When people try to get us to relive the past that we’re trying to forget, we can remind them that we’re not that person anymore, and that this is the present and not the past. If they want to live in the jail cell of the past, wish them well, but tell them we won’t be joining them. If they love the past so much, they can keep it – we don’t want it back. We have the power to control our present by living in today and shape our bright future, none of which is dependent on our dark past, or the memories of it.

FREEDOM

 

 

Forgive Yourself

FORGIVE YOURSELF I

Many of us had childhoods that were permanently stained from numerous events of humiliation or abuse at the hands of parents, siblings, classmates, or others. Adulthood brought more disintegration of our self-esteem because of toxic, abusive relationships or other events that forced us into viewing ourselves as failures. We became saddled with shame and ridden by blame. We felt unworthy and undeserving of anything good in life. We also became dependent on the validation and/or approval of other people to try and prop up our fragile, fractured self-worth.

We found sudden comfort and immediate relief in the arms of something we could drink, swallow, smoke or snort. It was magic. It made all the pain disappear, and provided us with momentary visions of self-worth and escape from the reality of our lives. The desire for relief and escape became habitual, which then morphed into full-blown addiction. Once that happened, the heavy weight of shame and guilt, that we were carrying around from our broken childhoods and adulthood, tripled and became back-breaking.

I was abandoned at birth and abused as a child, and those events permanently scarred me. When adulthood came, I was drawn to alcohol and drugs like a moth to a light. It made the hurt stop and made me feel better about myself, but also started a pattern of isolation. Within a short period of time, I became a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict, which continued for years. I kept isolating myself more, adding to my shame and guilt. Eventually my life crashed and burned because of alcoholism and addiction and I almost lost my life to both.

Once I got into recovery, I didn’t start growing until I learned to forgive myself, which was one of the first and most important keys. I never pitied myself, but I learned to forgive and be kind and compassionate to myself. I stopped judging and condemning myself – in short, I made amends with myself. I started talking to myself the way I would encourage a best friend who was feeling down. I began to accept what and who I was, and to understand what got me to where I was. Once I understood and accepted myself, I could begin to like myself.  Just starting to take care of myself, in the most basic ways, began a journey of self-love, which does not mean some kind of narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-worship. It was simply having enough self-respect to want to care about myself.

SELF CARE

I never allowed myself to use excuses, because making excuses for the past was just making excuses for the future. I also didn’t play the blame game, because assigning blame just creates resentments that did nothing but eat me alive from the inside out, and did nothing to the people who I had resented in the past. But most importantly, I stopped blaming myself. I did not deserve that. What I did deserve was self-love and self-respect, just like everybody else. Without elaboration, because I never want to be disrespectful or insensitive to people who don’t share my beliefs, faith and spirituality has been a crucial piece to my recovery. There is an underlying thread that goes through avenues of faith, which is that that I am loved and I am forgiven. That allowed me to learn to love and forgive myself as well.

We cannot move forward and upward if we’re still carrying around the heavy baggage and life-sucking weight of shame and guilt. It’s hard to grow if we’ve put ourselves into life without parole in the prison of blaming and shaming ourselves and fear about what other people think of us. Why should we blame ourselves for not knowing what we didn’t know before we learned it? Why worry about whether someone approves of us or not? We can be proud that we are growing and improving because the majority of the world will never be anything better than their inherited genes, inherent personality traits, childhood and adulthood experiences. But those of us in recovery rise above these things and become better people than we have ever been!

ALCOHOLICS BECOME BETTER II

We did the best we were able to do, with the hand we were dealt, and with what we did not know at the time. Instead of reviewing our past with regret and shame, we can be proud of how much we’ve battled through and survived. All of us, who have fought through addiction to alcohol/drugs, deserve to have good things happen to us in our lives. We all deserve these good things because we are resolved resilient, courageous and we can respect and love ourselves for it.

NO PERSON ON EARTH

 

 

 

 

 

Self Hatred

SEFL DISLIKE

Trauma from abuse suffered at the hands of someone in our lives, either as a child or an adult, can create a dislike of ourselves and even self-hatred. For years we were put down and kept down, humiliated or worse. This creates a deep, negative rut that our minds get stuck in. “Why don’t people like me? Why would they? There’s not much to like. I really don’t like me either.” These obsessive thoughts can haunt us mercilessly. When there is no real evidence to support the perception that other people dislike us, we find ourselves doing things that we know are terribly wrong so there is something real to back up the imagined dislike. Or we just create perceptions, in our minds, of other people’s dislike of us to support our own dislike. So, in our minds, we feel that if other people dislike us the way we dislike ourselves, things feel in sync. Things like career successes, love from others and even just compliments make us want to push people away and isolate, because it creates an internal battle. It goes completely against the grain of the dislike of ourselves.

I was the great pretender, acting as if I had complete confidence. Nobody ever knew. But inside? Complete and utter turmoil. All of this created not only general anxiety, but intense social anxiety. Then along came alcohol and drugs. Suddenly, there was a magic euphoric escape from all this. But not just an escape. Alcohol/drugs either supplied false confidence, or if I was a drunken/drugged out fool, people would either love me as the life of the party, or they would dislike me as much as I disliked myself. So I had everything covered. The dislike of myself became a self-fulfilling prophecy as my life, of course, crashed and burned because of the alcoholism and drug abuse, as it is virtually guaranteed to do. When that happened, I was swimming in an ocean of self-hatred, disdain and complete isolation and devastation.

The happy ending to all this is that sobriety and therapy (in that order) finally allowed me to untwist that giant tangled knot of messed up neural pathways and get out of the prison of the mind ruts I was stuck in. I was able to learn the origins of the dislike of myself and what had created it (much of it from the trauma of being a foster child and abused physically and mentally throughout childhood by a narcissistic parent). I gained the power to examine these thoughts as they come in, easily and quickly brush them away like flies, or let them float past like scenery on a train. But every once in awhile, I can feel my thoughts slipping into those old mind ruts of self-dislike and worrying that other people dislike me. Those thoughts try to stick to me like a barnacle. But I immediately stop and pull my thoughts up onto the high ground of reality and win that battle between what I know and what I feel and between created perceptions and reality. Knowledge rocks! For any of you that can relate to any of this, I am absolutely nothing special – if I can do this, literally ANYBODY can and that’s the great news. But none of this would have happened without sobriety first.

 

Isolation

ISOLATION II

We’ve always felt different from everyone. It might be because of trauma suffered as a child. It might be because of trauma suffered as an adult. Or it could be because of something physically, where we feel we look different. Whatever the case, we’ve suffered from a general feeling of being alone in the world, it seems like forever. This feeling of being alone generates both anxiety and depression in us. Because we feel different, we want to isolate ourselves. But the more we isolate ourselves, the more we feel alone. The more we feel alone, the more anxious and depressed we become, and we isolate even more.

Alcohol and drugs provide the great escape. When we’re using, all the feelings of being different and alone disappear – replaced with a feeling of euphoria in the moment. Suddenly we feel great about ourselves. We can escape into reverie and imagine we are someone else, somewhere else or in some other situation. The voice in our head, telling us we’re a reject goes silent, and is replaced by a voice telling us we’re amazing. We’re no longer stabbed by the spears from the voices of family or friends who have said bad things about us or done bad things to us. But once the alcohol/drugs start to wear off, we’re left feeling even more alone and isolated. The depression and anxiety we felt before comes back twice as bad, with a vengeance. We are so overcome with anxiety and depression, isolation and loneliness, that we desperately want it to go away immediately and the only relief seems to be with more alcohol/drugs.

Without even realizing what we’ve done, we find that we’ve completely pushed everyone out of our lives. We look around and find that we have lost everything to getting relief through alcohol/drugs. We’ve lost all our relationships, our jobs, homes, money, dignity, self-respect and our bodies. The feelings of being alone and being different are not just feelings now – they are reality. Everything and everybody is gone. It seems it’s that particular moment when successful recovery begins for many people. It was for me.

I had lost my marriage, family, friends, job and money to alcohol and drugs. In that moment, my feelings of wanting to isolate disappeared for the first time in my life. I was desperate to open my arms to literally anybody who would reach back. Although spawned by despair, it was liberating to no longer want to isolate. It was freeing to suddenly want other people. It felt amazing to find other people who had similar experiences and were also reaching out for the same reasons. For me that was the start of successful recovery.

Group Therapy

NO IDEA WHATS GOING ON

Group therapy seemed like an oxymoron for someone with social anxiety. If being in a group causes tremendous anxiety, isn’t group therapy going to cause me even more anxiety? So how is group therapy supposed to help me with anxiety and recovery? That appeared to me to be a total contradiction in terms.

The reason people sit across from each other in any room in any situation and don’t speak is usually because they are worried about approval and feeling the need to protect ego. They’re worried about what other people think of them and they’re afraid to look like they’re the only ones who are really struggling with this. If one person takes down his or her ego-protection walls and asks for help, other people take theirs down too and they end up opening up and sharing their struggles as well, looking for the same help.

As I was in rehab, I was filled with withdrawal anxiety, post-acute withdrawal anxiety and the generalized anxiety that had been my constant companion my whole life. Social anxiety, at that particular point, was off the charts. So when I was told a recovery program and community group therapy was needed, I pushed back hard. I always had monumental social anxiety, so group therapy was a major anxiety trigger. But I held to my mantra of “please help me”. My professional care-givers instructed me to join in these community groups so I did.

When I started going into any groups and just saying “please help me”, things instantly changed. I did not concern myself with impressing anybody or worrying about whether anybody liked me or not. I actually said those three words out loud when I was asked to speak. Those three words took down all the walls I built to protect my ego and got me away from the fear of what other people thought of me. By saying “please help me” out loud to a group, I found myself instantly accepted by people with their arms around me. There was no posturing or performing to obtain approval or status –   there was just instant acceptance. The fear of not being approved of was gone because that didn’t matter anymore.

Once I no longer had the ego-protection barriers up, I was free to explore and embrace true friendship, commonality and sense of community. The feelings of being afraid and alone were gone.  There I was embraced and accepted by other people who understood and could empathize with what I was going through, without any other effort other than to drop my guard. Equally important, it got me out of one of the worst prisons I had put myself in, which is the fear and social anxiety of always worrying about what other people thought of me. Getting out of that prison also meant I no longer felt alone and no longer was alone. I just wanted help and asked for it. And there it was.

 

Mind Ruts

NEURAL PATHWAYS

The human brain makes paths for itself to travel for protection when we are faced with trauma or anxiety – neural pathways, or “mind ruts”. Our minds create these ruts, at a very young age, as an escape route. Our young brains found it natural to escape trauma through imagination of being somewhere else or someone else. Our adult brain continues to naturally want to travel in these mind ruts, created as a child, as an escape route for trauma, anxiety, depression, etc. If there is major trauma suffered, our desire to escape through these old mind ruts becomes overwhelming.

Alcoholism/addiction is often called the addiction to escape from reality through alcohol/drugs. The escape from reality neural pathway established as a young child. I certainly was in full blown addiction to that. But I found that with sobriety and through recovery, my mind was able to establish brand new healthy pathways to travel for dealing with all of life. Those old mind ruts will always be there and my mind will naturally want to fall back into them. But with knowledge and the right tools, I can now always easily steer my mind right back onto these smooth new pathways.