Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Trigger warning: suicide & drug use
I discovered drugs when I was really young, and used them as often as I could. In my twenties and thirties I used people; I used sex. I was looking for a way to get off. I wanted to get off of my mind, get off of this planet, get off of my pain.
I was suicidal for most of my life. My first suicidal episode was when I was 11 years old. I had another in college, and another shortly before I quit drinking in 2018. I was looking for a way out. A way out of the victimization cycle. A way out of my pain.
Drugs and sex are not inherently bad. In some ways, they can both be conscious expanding and heart opening. But, when used in great quantity and without any measure of intention or mindfulness behind them this is when they become destructive. However, certain substances such as alcohol deaden the intention and the mindfulness, making heart expansion nearly impossible. But that’s a conversation for another time.
Somewhere around year two of my sobriety, I came to realize that I could hurt myself, I could sleep with half of Texas, and I could drink until I was sick, but my body and I were stuck together. Simply put: There is no way out.
First I had to realize that I didn’t actually want to die. I didn’t want my physical body to die; I wanted my mind to be more kind to me. I wanted the parts of me that were in pain to stop being painful. I wanted the subconscious memories from my abusive and neglectful childhood to stop tormenting me. I wanted the pain to die. The pain had been a part of me for so long that I thought it was me. I lost sight of who I really am; I was so lost in the illusion that I could not extricate myself from my pain because there was something inherently wrong with me. Over time, I began to believe that I was the pain, and the only way to stop it was to turn on myself.
The barrage of behaviors I engaged in to self destruct as a means of killing these younger wounded parts of myself still astound me. I actually am still in shock that I survived. But I did, and I finally had to accept that fighting pain with more pain wasn’t working. I couldn’t get off.
It is likely we adapted these behaviors to our less than desirable emotions because they were not accepted in us as children. There were too many parameters, conditions around being loved and accepted. So the learned behavior is to shun ourselves when we feel a less than blissful emotion. We were taught to feel shameful about our emotions, maybe even taught to hide them entirely, or change personas as a means of keeping us safe.
I recently lost some people in my life who were special to me, and found myself at a decision point. I could go into the old story of victimization and rejection, or find a new way. The old story would lead me into my pain body where I could wallow and let my wounding run wild. But that no longer felt right to me. After so much inner healing, I had fundamentally transformed so that my instincts were no longer to harm myself because someone else had harmed me.
And in this moment of loss I realized the fundamental truth about pain: The only way out is Love.
What is the most radical way we can stand up to our past and let it know it no longer controls us? By breaking the patterns. By loving the wounded parts; loving the painful parts. Even the shame. Love is the anecdote to this shame. The next time you’re met with a challenge, see how it feels to meet your pain with love and acceptance. See if it helps you soften towards yourself. And notice how the pain, instead of intensifying, will begin to dissolve.
We must realize it is safe to be authentic with our feelings, even when our feelings are in a season of sadness, anger, confusion, or grief.
The only way out is self acceptance, and forgiveness. The only way out of pain is to love it, to love the pain, to love yourself, to love the people who hurt you. The only way out of addiction is Love. The only way out of victimization is Love.
The only way out is Love.