So I’ve been reading Pete Walker’s second book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. This is not the first time I’ve talked about Pete’s writing which has been revolutionary for me in deepening my understanding of the emotional recovery aspects of addiction and you can read them all here. In this book he digs even deeper into recovery from emotional trauma and I felt compelled once again to share what he wrote specifically about emotional hunger and addiction.
He writes “The emotional hunger that comes from parental abandonment often morphs over time into an insatiable appetite for substances and/or addictive processes. Minimization of early abandonment often transforms later in life into the minimizing that some survivors use to rationalize their substance and process addictions. Fortunately, many survivors eventually come to see their substance or process addictions as problematic (*raises hand in acknowledgement*). But many also minimize the deleterious effects of their addiction and jokingly dismiss their need to end or reduce their reliance on them (*raises hand again*).
When the survivor has no understanding of the effects of trauma or memory of being traumatized , addictions are often understandable, misplaced attempts to regulate painful emotional flashbacks. However many survivors are now in a position to see how self-destructive their addictions are. They are now old enough to learn healthier ways of self-soothing.
Accordingly, substance and process addictions can be seen as misguided attempts to distract from inner pain. The desire to reduce such habits can therefore be used as motivation to learn the more sophisticated forms of self-soothing that Cptsd recovery work has to offer.
Grieving work offers us irreplaceable tools for working through inner pain. This then helps obviate the need to harmfully distract ourselves from our pain.
If you’d like to listen to someone talking about their experience of PTSD can I recommend the recent interview of Will Young on Bryony Gordon’s Mad World.
I appreciate that not all of those who visit this blog or read these posts come from traumatic or emotionally abusive childhoods, but equally some of us do. As AA advocates ‘take what you need and leave the rest’ and hat tip to Anne over at ainsobriety who gets a mention in the recovery piece linked to this AA wisdom! 🙂