You are probably reading and re-reading the title, wondering how I could possibly put all these words in one sentence, however, this has been my experience with addiction. When I go back to my childhood, I now realize how I have been surrounded by addiction my entire life. Then again, who hasn't? You just have to turn on the television, listen to the radio, open up an Internet browser or for that matter go to your local church and addiction is everywhere. As a society we still have a tendency to see addicts as homeless people living in back alleyways, but I believe that this is the way that we are able to keep addiction from our own personal realities until we are ready to deal with it.
There is no easy way to look at addiction, especially when it affects our personal lives or our loved ones. There are many different ways to see addiction and I believe that by choosing one way over another, it keeps us polarized and unable to deal with the devastation that addiction causes to families, communities and our society. Some believe it is a disease, others believe it is a choice. Does it really matter what someone believes, or is it more important to create awareness and education about the impact of addiction?
I have chosen to see addiction as an opportunity to open my heart to unconditional love. I have been blessed to have beautiful people show up in my life at just the right time to teach me about addiction, about family of origin, about choices and why and how we make them and how they affect my present choices. Just yesterday I was thinking about how I have ended up writing and speaking about addiction and what the future holds for me, when a friend, who is a pioneer in the field of addiction, called and reminded me that if one is willing, addiction can be an opportunity to open up one's heart. And then, my phone rang again and it was another friend who has worked in the field of addiction for years and she reminded me that not only is being surrounded by addiction an opportunity to open my heart, but that my heart has been opened to unconditional love. Confirmation and validation just when I needed it, from two incredible friends who know and understand the journey through the minefield of addiction.
I want to remind you that if you are willing to allow an addict, addiction or addictive behavior to hold up their mirrors for you to look into so that you are able to see where your heart may be blocked, I promise you, it will be the greatest gift you give yourself. It is not an easy journey, but one that is well worth taking. Not only will you learn to love yourself by looking into that mirror, but ultimately you will be able to love the addict, with unconditional love: a love that gives without asking anything in return, a love that says I will always love you. I must add here that there are times that you may not like the behavior of an addict, but when you learn to love yourself, you will be able to reach out with love for the addict without demanding such love in return. Unconditional love says I am here for you when you are ready to embark on your journey towards loving yourself.
I hope I have shed some light on this path called "love" for you today. If you can remember that people are brought in to your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime it may help. Also, whoever shows up in your life is for you to learn a little more about you. I am so grateful for each and every addict that has shown up in my life as I have learned more about who I am and how I can love unconditionally, without limits. I may not always like the behavior, but I know I love the person.
Natalie and Renee, thank you so much for being such incredible women whom I love, respect and honor and thank you for calling at exactly the right time.
With love, light and hope for a world filled with LOVE.