What I didn’t understand, when I was in the thick of my addiction was – why I was self destructing?
I couldn’t articulate it at the time and it had been something that since my recovery have spent years researching and understanding.
The depth of my understanding was also enhanced by my interactions with others.
First as a participant of a recovery group for two years and then training to take it over as a facilitator with Relationships Australia.
This witness of others articulating their pain and their own unique circumstances helped me to understand myself better and gain insight I would have never known.
The compassion I had always had, for helping other people, amplified. I then started speaking publically about my journey through the Gambling Impact Society and then my mission became clear.
What happened was audiences found the insights I shared about my journey, incredibly relatable to their own pain regardless of what it was. It wasn’t just gamblers I was speaking to, but people in the grip of life struggles, whether they be those in desperate need or those in roles that care for them. My vulnerability gave them a new access to their own life. People found themselves asking the same questions I did.
Why am I doing this?? And I help them with a pathway of new understanding of self.
It has become so clear to me that whilst not everyone is addicted to something, there is certainly a massive increase in people young and old, of any sex or race, effected by life struggles and overwhelm.
So WHY are we, as a society who have more than any previous generation, become so prone to despair? Unsustainable environments.
Let me explain, we, as human beings are not designed to live in unsustainable environments long term.
These environments can be actual ones, eg. school, workplace, marriage/relationships and home life or the most dangerous unsustainable environment, can be the one between your ears. e.g. self loathing, regret, shame, guilt. It is particularly dangerous because it is not visible to others and it can be easily masked.
Imagine a child who faces relentless bullying day in, day out. They might try to seek help and it doesn’t work. If hope fades and ones ability to see a way out diminishes, a fundamental shift happens and the body responds by trying to remove the person from their pain in a subconscious, reactive way. Fill in the blank of what that looks like, from self harm or a myriad of addictions to suicide.
A man, caught between being a provider with responsibilities to his family and sacrifices his own personal joy and purpose. He then acts inappropriately both at work and at home. Then he gets held down in shame and regret. Once again a variety of scenarios follows, most of them have negative, because he felt an inescapable pressure to endure an unsustainable environment.
It was 2 years into my recovery when I had the realisation and epiphany that whist I loved my husband and children on a conscious level, my subconscious was trying desperately to wake me up from the nightmare I was living.
Both my internal and external environments were completely unsustainable.
My mind was constantly on overdrive, trying to cover up and conceal the damage my addiction had caused or I was completely drowning in regret and shame. I had no mental freedom or peace.
My home environment was completely unstable, with my husband’s depression, running our own business, looking after the children and endless fights about money.
My subconscious wanted out of the pain, out of this long term unsustainable environment, so my husband’s threats of ‘if you gamble again, I will leave you’, were actually the driver NOT the deterrent! OMG I was stunned.
My addiction escalated in an attempt to end the marriage, as a way out of pain and I had no idea at the time, that this was happening!
Now this as I said happened 2 years into my recovery and it is the moment of clarity that helped me Transend Recovery. It wasn’t about blaming my husband or trying to live, saddled with the shame and regret anymore, it was about seeing clearly for the first time my pain but more importantly his pain and his own unsustainable environments and helping him through it.
Everyone had missed it and misunderstood it because he wasn’t addicted to anything, therefore our whole marriage it was only ever seen in the scope of, I alone was the ‘broken’ one when in reality we were two people dealing with our own pain and looking to each other for help and understanding that neither of us was equipped to recognise or deal with.
Having compassion for one another and separating the person in pain from the destructive behaviour that was present, was a game changer for both of us. Mutual forgiveness was required. We deepened in understanding of ourselves and each other and this brought about incredible healing to our family.
This first hand experience then translated to everyone I encountered, in every situation of struggle, I seek first to try and understand the person’s pain and help them to uncover the things that they don’t know that they don’t know about themselves. Then it is crucial to then set out to rebuild and restore a person fully. To create self esteem coupled with mental freedom from the past is the key foundation step to successful recovery. There are 4 other, achievable and sustainable steps to then maintain this outcome.
This clearer understanding of self is the only way forward if we want to truly help people long term, they are not just a case number, they are a human being experiencing pain that they do not understand, because we have never been taught how to live a sustainable life. The end symptoms or by products of that pain, in my eyes is irrelevant and should never be met with judgement. Internal torment is totally invisible to other people and can cause incredible damage and the only way of healing with it, is by bringing it to light. We need to create a society that helps people identify and understand what is going on with them in a safe and non judgemental way, regardless of who they are or what positions in society they may hold.
No one is immune to struggle and the divide between the ‘Well’ and the ‘Sick’ is not as clear and defined as we are led to believe.
I can now see this pain, in others and I feel compelled to help. We can create a culture that can prevent the escalation of destruction, if we shift our thinking and the way we encounter people. Through eyes of compassion.
The way I see it, the end outcomes of pain people are experiencing eg, addictions, depression, violence and suicide are not the focus. Existing services are doing a fantastic job on the frontline of pain but we need to go back and re educate people about the fundamentals of being a human being. Help people to understand themselves and what they need to thrive.
Right now we are being sold an existence not a life and we need more than that. This simple fact if personally denied, is proven to mean a tragic outcome is unfortunately unavoidable.
We were created in our own uniqueness and have our own gifts to contribute. Big and small, again completely irrelevant as no one is better than someone else, we are simply different and unique deliberately. These gifts are only able to be accessed if there is the available mental headspace and capacity to engage with that purpose. Whilst people are bogged down in struggle this can never be accessed or realised fully. Watching these gifts emerge from people I have seen restored is incredible and I am so excited about what is to come as more people are given that freedom of being comfortable with their humanness and living life on purpose. The incedible flow on effect to those around them extraordinary.
This is powerfully important if we are to save our society from despair.
Incredible healing and understanding will flow from this scenario. The scenario of HOPE – Help Other People Everyday. The attitude of kindness is outcome a person liberated from pain. This is how I became a World Kindness Ambassador, because I sent an email to The Secretariat of World Kindness Mr Michael Lloyd-White, that we really cannot expect that we will live in a kinder world whilst people are drowning in struggle and pain, they may want to, but their capacity is greatly diminished. We need to first help liberate people from this unconscious fog, restore HOPE and kindness follows.
The HOPE Project as a For Purpose Organisation aims to create that compassionate space and educate workplaces, schools and community groups on sustainable, hopeful living. We want to work collaboratively with existing services and organisations to bring about healing in society from this new personal understanding model. We believe in total human restoration.
With new understanding coupled with a vital shift in how we think and relate to one another, society will thrive. Or we can do nothing and watch judgement, fear, and hopelessness continue to extinguish lives.