Reflections on addiction, abuse, choice, power, sensitivity and the awakening that leads us through the Dark Night of the Soul.

By dealing with the darkness within,

Light can shine more brightly

Leah Whitehorse

Flower Sun.jpg

When we are emotionally free we have the power to choose.  One of the things abuse can steal from us is our belief in ourselves and our belief in our power to make choices.  If our wants, needs or feelings were shamed we may feel unsafe and unsure of connecting to them.  If they were threating to others and we got bullied and there was a threat of loss of love we may get fearful of feeling what we do.  We may associate feeling what we do with being abandoned and if we don’t have that sense of Self strong inside we can make the poor bargain to give over and surrender our power.  We then believe that we are powerless.

This is one of the things I think is problematic when we get into 12 step programmes as active alcoholics if our alcoholism was an attempt to deal with the pain of abuse.  Being told we have no power isn’t really helpful.  We may have no power over the addiction at that time if we are using unconsciously and then an admission of powerlessness does have a good benefit, we can reach for external aid of those who have surrendered negative self will for sobriety.  But there does come a time when we need to find the power within us to affect change and act from a positive sense of will which comes from a healthy loving place.  It takes strength of will to surrender our defences and ways of running or reacting to experience the depth of powerful feelings that addiction may have hidden from us. For example : feeling anger if we have or were violated or abused is part of recognising that our power was stolen in some way.  Acting out our anger with our abuser may not help and lead to more problems but using our anger to set a boundary or defence against such treatment in the future will mean we gain the power of choice over what we allow to affect us for good or ill.

I am a firm believer that the universe of our spirit wants us to be free.  If we feel unfree in some way there was at some time a limit or shackle placed upon us that we need to cast off. We have the right to connect with the truth of our spirit in our emotional life.

I was having a conversation with a very close friend this morning and we were talking about how being emotionally sensitive is not valued in our culture, most especially in Australian culture.   The iconic Australian is ‘cool’, ‘laid back’.  “No worries, mate” is a natural Ocker expression that supposedly expresses how we operate here.

If you aren’t like this growing up you often get shamed or people look on you askance.  Escaping from the toxic mindset of such an emotionally violent culture is not always easy.  You have to find a strong backbone inside to be able to see the bullies use shame and put downs to judge you as weak for feeling emotions and being vulnerable.

There was a very powerful example of this the other week on our Australian version of “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”  where one of the contestants got extremely emotional when faced with a difficult tucker trial which involved awful ‘tests’ of fortitude such as putting her head inside a nest filled with rats, snakes, cockroaches or other scary critters.   She had a pretty vocal emotional response.  This week when she was eliminated in an interview she said “I was just myself.  I was pretty honest with all of my emotional reactions.  I didn’t put on a mask”.  The interviewer who is a comedian raised her eyes and there was a lot of media attention devoted to what a ‘baby’ she was being.  Kudos to her she hung in there.

Part of me is intrigued by this show.  It is apparently entertainment to watch others go through these kind of harsh trials.  For all I know it may be character building and some of the participants have spoke of how it makes them appreciate all they have in life in such an affluent culture.  You may have your own ideas and take on it.  To me its a bit emotionally violent.  But then I am not really a fan of tough love.  One of my favourite quotes come from Gabor Mate who writes powerfully about the true forces that drive addicts to seek elimination of pain. He has said :

There’s either tough or there’s love. But there’s no tough love. There’s nothing tough about love. Love is actually very soft and open. Tough love is another word for punishment. It’s a euphemism.

Gabor Mate

In many ways we live in a culture that thrives on shame, blame and punishment.  To be vulnerable or sensitive is to be weak and or ill.  To be depressed is a sign of failing or not being well.  But what if the experience of a depression is actually a doorway into the depths of one’s soul an opportunity to examine very deep things that have gone on within one’s life?  What if a so called ‘dark passage’ or ‘dark night of the soul’ is actually a form of spiritual awakening at a critical time on this planet when there is so much to be sad about in terms of the way we can abuse one another and nature?

Indian mystics have a belief that for a few thousand years humanity has been caught up in what they called The Kali Yuga.  Translated this is an age in which forces of darkness and destruction have taken hold within human consciousness.  Abuse of women and the feminine is part of it.   Development of the idea of God separate from nature is part of it.  Assertion of mankind’s will to power over natural forces and finding ways to cheat death is part of it. Addiction as a falling out of relationship with a sensitive, emotionally awake aware, body, mind and spirit that is connected to love and power and strength of good healthy spiritual energy and vitality is part of it.

During the Kali Yuga lost souls have the power of awakening to what is going down. Therefore to be sensitive at this time is to be in touch, it is to feel the suffering that occurs when we abuse life, animals, nature and others.  Awakening involves releasing the suffering of abuse that we may have gone through.  A part of this depression or the so called ‘dark night of the soul’ is a massive call to awakening.   I see much evidence of it everywhere and most especially on WordPress.

So many of us are waking up and knowing that the future of our world depends upon our capacity to make healthy choices.  Choices where we are connected emotionally and spiritually as cells within the body of earth and can choose for that which unites us rather than separates us from light and love, power and strength, and the vulnerability and humility of knowing our true limits and dependence on nature.  Sensitivity allows us to attune, rather than just barrel through and involves a willingness to surrender to something we may not have chosen but has the power to transform us at the very deepest level.

 

 

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