Stress and Addiction
Stress is at an all-time high in our work places and in our homes.
We are fearful of losing our jobs as companies downsize or move the majority of their operations off-shore.
Businesses are expecting many of us to spend longer and longer hours at work and to take work home with us. We oblige them. Often we spend our evenings responding to that inner compulsion to do what we perceive to be our duty – to formulate our replies to the multitudinous emails.
So it is that our inner stress follows us into our homes – our one-time sacred places of refuge, of connection, of communication, of intimacy.
Often, our partners are as busy and as worried about job security as we are. The cumulative stress creates a ripe environment for conflict.
Some of us have experienced major traumas in our earlier lives. Until these are resolved, we live in a state of chaos, uncertainty and confusion resulting in a further stress build-up.
Sometimes, we do not take the necessary steps for healthy stress management. Instead, we turn to mind numbing substances and activities. Addiction makes its presence known as our ‘soother of choice’ becomes an all-encompassing force in our lives.
We drift even further away from our partners and from our shared and individual realities.
We are no longer in control. Our addiction is.
We need to try to remember that help is available for Addictions as is Therapeutic Educational Techniques for Stress Reduction and for Anxiety Alleviation.
The earlier in this process that we seek help, the more control we regain over our lives.
Two people meet and fall in love. Time passes and then, one day, he takes her to a special place and surprises her. Their special place could be a park, a restaurant, a room in one of their homes, some landmark place in their city, etc.
He asks her to marry him. She says “yes’ and a beautiful ring is placed on her finger.
Her eyes sparkle, her face glows. Yes, the ring sparkles too, but no diamond could ever outshine the beauty or the luminosity of her face. Her happiness shines from within, illuminating her whole being, spreading outward to touch those who love her.
I am reminded of my mother’s oft-spoken words – “Beauty is internal”. If you cultivate beauty within your own soul, it shines forth, making its mark in a world that can sometimes be difficult, dark and chaotic.
Truly, this is one of those special moments. Anyone who sees her that day is immediately aware that something wondrous has occurred.
There is the Joy of Acceptance by the Beloved; there is the Validation of Love and of Identity; There is Hope for a wonderful future together; there is now a possibility of creating together the long desired dream of children, yet another symbol of their love.
I think of the specialness of this particular moment in a couple’s life. I think, too, of all the
excitement, anticipation, romance, love, hope, joy and peace that this moment contained.
No matter what new adventures, successes, failures and disappointments that come their way, I hope that they will never forget the day of their Engagement.
Then I remember how easy it is to forget the unique alchemy of love contained in such moment. How easy it is to become frustrated with oneself and with one’s partner; how easy it is to become angry; to build walls of self-protection that shut down all but rudimentary conversations, spoken in irritated monosyllables. The home becomes a psychological war zone and children get caught in the crossfire.
Nobody plans to live his or her life that way. Most people want to be happy and at peace. However, the cultivation of Positive Remembering is needed to assist each of us to live our lives in a way more congruent with the natural highs we experience during especially happy moments.
Perhaps, it is otherwise because we have not been taught to consciously remember the light when the dark comes; to not consciously remember the beauty that existed before the scar from an injury; to not consciously remember the high points of a relationship when bad days come as they inevitably will to any relationship, to any life.
I believe it would be a good idea to make a conscious decision to never let a day pass without some positive statement made, one to the other – a compliment, some thing of beauty glimpsed from a bus or car window, an ‘I love you’, said with meaning, a warm embrace, a kiss on the cheek, a memory shared of the happiness and joy inherent in the special moments that we have shared in the past – moments like an engagement with all its attendant sharing with the beloved, with family, with friends, with co-workers.
Would it not be a good idea to create a Memory Album and/or a Memory Box, filled gradually, over a lifetime together, with photographs and symbols that remind us of all those meaningful and glorious events – events that touched us at the core of our beings, making our lives richer and our relationships deeper?
Then, when difficulties arise and we fail to see the good in the other or, for that matter, in ourselves, we can take out our Memory Boxes and share together our Special Moments.
How can you continue to fight with me, how can I continue to fight with you, if we together, look at a photograph of you and me during those special moments – those moments when all the intensity of love and happiness was obvious in our faces, in our postures and in our intentions? How can I continue to build my Wall of Silence and incipient hatred towards you in the face of such glory?
Anniversaries are also a great time to revisit the past with each other. As we look at the bad and the good, we can try to resolve the bad together, with love and in peace, being open always to professional help if we get lost.
We can review the good and celebrate, in our own unique way, our profound gratitude that we two, one day, found each other.
Thus, we renew our memories, our romance, our love and our commitment, each to the other.
What ‘has been’ can never cease to exist for, somewhere in time, that love was and is. We just need to remember to keep the embers of love burning bright. The experiences that we have had together will remain as long as one of us is alive and has an intact memory.
And, if we continue to nourish our love with daily remembering, our children and our friends will carry that memory with them long after we have gone.
Through this writing, I make a gift to all of you who struggle to remember love. Please remember all of your special moments – those moments when your face glowed and your happiness was evident to the entirety of your world.
In our highly technological society, in order to obtain a job we must engage in years of formalized training. We must continue life-long training, updating our skills to maintain a level of expertise that will allow us to continue to compete in the job market.
In centuries predating the technological and industrial eras, workers-to-be were taken under the wings of older and wiser masters of their craft so that they, the new generation, could learn the requisite expertise needed to develop a skill, a career, a science, an art. We are taught to earn a livelihood but we are not taught to fully live our lives.
These are facts we take for granted. We see the need for training in any field of career endeavor as essential and good.
Why then do we go lightly and in ignorance, into our most intimate relationships?
Sexuality has long been a subject of taboos; of the covert glance; of averted eyes; of stolen moments trying to discern what is supposed to happen in the bedroom through reading magazines and watching pornographic movies that are geared to titillate the supposed adult mind rather than to inform the uninformed just awakening sexual consciousness of the teenage boy or girl.
Why do we assume that the “how to” of sensuality and sexuality are ingrained in our genetic structures, set to kick in as the pangs and longings of puberty begin? Why do we assume that the skills of human connectedness - the ability to mold bodies, minds, souls in the crucible of sexuality will appear magically out of the blankness of “no where.”
After much opposition, sex education classes finally made their appearance in schools but the material taught is often sparse. It is often dedicated to physiological differences, nocturnal emissions, menstrual cycles, sexually transmitted diseases and protective measures.
Granted, this is a step forward but these classes are often taught by teachers who are themselves part of a generation that is uncomfortable about its sexuality. Embarrassment, giggling, averted glances exist where instead, there should be openness and acceptance. We must create a freedom of environment where students - young or old - feel comfortable enough to ask questions about the mechanics of the act itself as well as about any other aspect of sexuality, sensuality or romance without fear of ridicule. We must create an atmosphere where no fears and no question is considered silly or immature.
For one of the closest of human to human interactions, why do we receive little or no training?
Is the sharing of our bodies – the sharing of our most intimate selves less important than our careers?
When we do teach a little mechanical information, why do we leave out the dynamic force of true intimacy with all its beauty; with all the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual elements of union?
It is a miracle that the human race has managed to continue to exist. It is furthermore, no surprise that tragically, we are quickly losing whatever little ability we had in earlier less complicated eras, to truly connect; to communicate, body to body; head to head; heart to heart; soul to soul.
There is a bountiful joy to be found in true intimacy. Let us together walk through the gates of knowledge to a new and fuller awareness; to a fuller and more knowing acceptance of ourselves and of our partners.
Betty R. Stockley
We complain about the trauma in our lives. We cry, as well we might, over the tragedies and misfortunes that have seemingly followed us through life – the bad marriage, the failed business, the troubled children, the poor communication with our families and with our peers, etc.
But does misfortune really follow us or do we choose to follow misfortune – unknowingly, blindly?
If tragedy is the familiar; if trauma existed as a possible daily event in our lives, in our homes of origin, do we gravitate towards that which is known and “safe” simply because it is familiar?
If chaos reigned in our early lives; if we believed ourselves “worthless” because we were told we were, in many ways, on many occasions, by our own parents, then is it not to be expected that we will, on some level, believe we are “worthless”? After all, that piece of information was planted very early and by someone we loved. How could they be wrong? Feeling “worthless” and “unlovable” becomes the norm. It is familiar, it is safe, and it stops us from examining our lives too deeply, from having to dig deeply into the early pain that accompanied the initial wounding.
If we have lived dark, unhappy, family of origin pattern-repetitive lives, there is a severe, profound hurting as we open the windows of our minds and souls to let in the light of change. Change is unfamiliar; happiness is an unknown; worthwhileness is a fear-ridden idea, for, if I am worthy I might have to do something different. Inner peace – what is that, we ask? What are the consequences of attaining serenity?
As we pause at the threshold of a new world, a new universe, we are terrified and often we revert back to that which is known and comfortable just because it is known.
We will discuss the phenomena of choice using the didactic technique and by using real stories that substantiate this theory. Overheads and other teaching aids will be utilized. Audience participation would be appreciated.
Together, we will explore ways to bridge the two universes – the known and the unknown – the comfortable and the uncomfortable. We will explore connections between the two worlds and go away, better equipped to understand our own and our clients’ dilemmas as we and they face change. Together, we will look at the very real possibility of Inner Peace becoming the norm for all of us.
Betty R. Stockley
God, help me to understand myself
Help me to be gentle with myself
To understand myself
To probe deep within my inner being
To face my fear until I understand its origin
To be honest with myself
To face the lightness within
To face the darkness within my soul.
“In sharing our vulnerabilities, we find our strengths,
in loving ourselves we find that we can love others.”
“In facing the darkness of the lonely plain, we glimpse the
beauty of the lone flower and we find that in our own hearts
there blooms a companion flower if we would just stop,
give ourselves time to heal and time to water the flower within.
It is then that we will find an amazing potential within
ourselves and within others.”
Looking at Our World through Poetry
Poetry allows us to explore our world and relationships through another means of expression. Let me share more of my thoughts here through my poems: