Monday, June 8, 2009

Using Your Struggle Muscle!!

Has life gotten too easy? Is our routine causing us to become bored? Are we creating drama in our lives to fill up the empty space? What can we do to overcome our addiction to drama?

Many of us grew up in families of origin that were filled with the drama of chaos in every day life. We may have had caretakers who could barely manage their own lives... siblings who created intense drama around themselves... a family member who was disabled... neighbors who created chaos and drama within their home and out into the street involving others. Not to mention an addict or alcoholic in the family. Some of us have been caught in the inter-generational caretaking trap... caring for both children and parents simultaneously. This can leave us exhausted, drained and without time to live lives of our own.

Any or all of these situations creates an imbalance in our internal rheostat. We become drama addicts. Over time our bodies become accustomed to the shots of adrenaline we receive from our flight/fright/freeze response which reacts instinctively when we are stimulated in chaos. As we grow up in a constant state of arousal, due to the chaos in our families of origin, we become adrenaline addicts. When nothing is happening we feel sluggish, down, somewhat depressed, tired, bored, and generally disinterested until... BAM ...we get a shot of adrenaline when our friend calls and tells us that she and her husband are having a fight again. Drama!! We are wide awake, alert, up, focused, energized and ready to interact. It's so much better than coffee!!

What happens when we walk the path to recovery and our challenges begin to dissipate? Some of us suddenly find that our lives have become boring, empty, without meaning, tiresome. We miss our daily doses of adrenaline. We feel useless. Our bodies literally feel different. The chemical addiction lessens over time, but our mental addiction must be addressed as well.

We may react by creating drama in our daily lives to fill the empty space. We don't have to go down that road. We can, instead, pursue hobbies and interests that we previously didn't have time to learn. We can paint, draw, attend theater, musical concerts, visit museums, learn a new language, try our hand at crafts, run a garage sale, refinish a special piece of furniture, read, exercise, volunteer or join a club.

When our time is absorbed caretaking others we may neglect our own lives for extended periods of time. This may leave us with a big empty space where caretaking and drama used to live. As we walk the path of recovery it is imperative that we take up new challenges to fill the void left by the old habits we no longer wish to pursue. Nature abhors a vacuum. If we do not fill the space by choice we run the risk of our hold habits returning and taking hold once again.

We practice our tools in our daily lives giving ourselves much needed self care. We make efforts not to isolate, to socialize with others both in and out of recovery. As we continue to remain vigilant in our pursuit of recovery we increase our self esteem. In this way we rebuild our life.

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