A JOURNEY WITHIN AND BEYOND DISCONNECTION
For many women with addiction, matters of the heart are the heart of the matter. The basic answer to “what’s the matter?”, it turns out, is a wounded heart. If we just look at the outer effects of addiction, we see disorder and dysregulation of the magnitude that has the power to disrupt organic, natural ways of relating with others. In other words, addiction impairs the heart’s ability to connect with others.
For as long as the false addicted self is blocking our real self, we are both unable to be truly loving, and unable to receive true love. We have covered over our true self with a fake personality, which, until dismantled, will always interfere with our ability to make genuine contact. Underneath that pattern, however, we have the pre-existing condition that the addiction exists to manage. What is the matter, deep down, underneath it all?
The inability to feel connected, which is to say, the inability to feel love. Almost everyone grows up with heart wounds. We are damaged in our natural right to know ourselves as “lovable just because”. In other words, we grow up in conditions that tell us we are “lovable if”, and “lovable when”. Our lovability will happen at a certain future point, or if achieved, then is experienced only for a precarious moment.
Love is meant to flow in and out of us as easily as air. If anyone underestimates how fundamental love is, consider the fact that babies in orphanages who are not held and loved are more likely to die than children who are. Love is not just a feeling; it is a requirement of survival. The incredibly widespread problems with lack of or low self-esteem and self-compassion among women, likewise, are an essential impairment in the ability to love the self.
In the absence of genuine love, by which I mean total acceptance and enjoyment of who we are, patience and space, kindness and closeness, affection, respect, and of our individual self, we will settle for the next best thing. An imitation of love will do. Addiction’s effects on the body and brain mimic the effects of love. Many of us became hooked on our drug of choice because of the oceanic feelings that seemed to blur out our isolation, separation, and pain.
It seemed to turn us into more lovable people, or maybe made the others seem more loving. It was an illusion, however, because at the same time that the addiction gave us a short-term experience of bliss by hijacking our own store of pleasure neurotransmitters and spending them all at once on us, it was actually depleting us and creating dependency.
It was like a boyfriend that seemed to be spending a bunch of money on us but was getting that money out of our own account. Once we enter recovery and halt the pattern of addiction, love issues come rising to the surface almost immediately. Our problematic ways of relating instantly appear, perhaps even getting worse before they begin getting better.
INTEGRATIVE RELATIONSHIP COUNSELING AND COUPLES GROUPS THERAPY
In addition to our focus on compassion, acceptance, and understanding, at Villa Kali Ma, we have a weekly couples group therapy and relationship counseling program to help us look at our relationship patterns in more detail. The purpose of the group is to help us adjust and align ourselves so that our hearts work again – so that the natural in and outflow of love happens as easily as breath. What is in the way of being able to give and receive unconditional love?
Several love themes stand like sentinels on our journey, gatekeepers that we may need to come to terms with. Codependency, love addiction, attachment styles, needs, communication skills and differentiation are topics that we are guided to encounter in couples group therapy and relationship counseling. As we recover, we understand more and more about what can go wrong when matters of the heart are the matter at hand.
The good news is that the same things that help us recover from our chemical addiction – going to meetings, developing a relationship with a healing higher power, who can help us live our lives without relying on chemicals to make it doable, help with relationships as well. We do not have to figure out how to heal our broken hearts and misguided ways of relating all on our own.
As we continue to recover, we gradually fill the hole in our soul with a genuine source of nourishing, soothing love, the love that life has for all parts of itself. When our hearts are reopened enough, the in and outflow of life’s love for us happens naturally. Then we do not need to look at others as food for our hungry hearts. Instead, we practice giving, knowing that we will always receive, if not right in this moment, then in another one. Once reconnected to our own source of true love, we relax, trusting that we will never again have to go too long without love.
The hope for group therapy and relationship counseling outcome success is the beginning of healing the entirety of humanity. As we each begin to experience the flow of love inside ourselves, and have more resources to share with others, we can then make the fundamental switch from selfishness to selflessness, that is to say, caring for the one shared self that we are all a part of, rather than consuming resources to maintain the small self that isolates us through inverted and negative patterns.
You are warmly welcomed to come explore your own connection to love here at Villa Kali Ma’s couples group therapy and relationship counseling program.