June 19, 2016

Tiny Letter #32: Killing Addiction (And a Special Offer)

In the last Tiny Letter I asked a simple question: how do you kill the voices of addiction, of bad habits, of self-harm or shame? (Click here if you missed the last Tiny Letter.) Over the last few weeks, responses have poured in. Some answered the question; even more asked whether I'd forward any helpful tips along. It seems so many of us are looking for answers.
We’re all part of the same human family, born with the same propensity for walking upright and falling flat on our faces. Too many of us have bloody noses and bloodshot eyes, perhaps a chipped tooth or two. The wobbly legs of toddlerhood give way to sturdier trunks, but the spindly legs of the spiritual life seem to quiver well into adulthood. This, I suppose, is the reason my question resonated. Don’t we all hear the voices? Don’t we all have a penchant for screwing up? Wouldn't most of us like one last pill, one last peek, one last nip, one last swipe of the credit card--one last, that is, until the next one last. 

Lord have mercy; I know this game perhaps a bit too well.
I threw out the question, expecting little in return. But this Tiny Letter Community being what this Tiny Letter Community is, so many of you offered real words of wisdom. Today, I’d like to share some of that wisdom in hopes that we might all find an extra tool (or three) to keep us from falling flat on our faces. 

Consider these answers to the question “how do we kill the voices of addiction?” And after you turn the suggestions over, please continue reading (past the reflection question). Below, I’m offering this community another sort of tool.
“I'm finding... [the] simple awareness of the emotional dynamic that invites that pull is half the battle, if not more than half. Merely fighting the urge is useless, if not fatal; acknowledging the reality of the urge and accepting the humanness that underlies it is, it seems to me, a big step toward healing and wholeness.”
“How do you kill the demons that don't seem to die? I name them. I find that the things that tempt me have way less power over me when I identify them. For example, if I go to grab a bag of chips (one of my many weaknesses is overindulging on snacks), I stop and recognize what I'm doing. Think about how much damage it will do to any healthy eating I've done up to that point in my day. Think it through and usually have a small portion rather than deny myself altogether. The deeper things that tug at me get identified too, through writing or confiding in a close friend.”
“You asked how do (we) I kill the demons that won't die? And on one hand, I'm not qualified to answer, because my demons still dance seductively from time to time, some stressful seasons, more wildly than ever. And in other calmer moments they seem to only sashay past, too quickly for me to notice or care about giving in to the old game. I guess I manage to kill them with Truth, with remembering my identity, my place. My value. … Scripture and keeping my distance. That's the only way for me to make any headway.” 
“…walking away, forgiving whoever needs to be forgiven, praying for help, surrounding yourself with people suffering similarly (sponsor, confidante, support group, whatever)—is the way.”
“The question that has helped me most recently is ‘How can I be kind to myself today?’  I have learned from my counselor and addictions group experience: Loving connection to God and community leads to a healthy self-love. A healthy self-love helps us be kind to ourselves. The goal is not a number on the scale (for me). The goal is kindness to self.”
“The honest answer is that I can't kill the demons. I can't reason with them or myself, and so I fail until I finally come back to surrender and give up.”
“I resort to my 15 minutes of ‘creative procrastination.’ To make myself wait before eating anything else. To try to distract myself with something positive or something constructive.”
“[I try] to replace the self-medicating with a healthy spirituality, to the Bible, to groups, to something that fills up instead of draining out. But if we don't lather, rinse, repeat, then we get empty again, making room for demons. And if we're human, which apparently we are, then we will fail on the lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over. For me, the trick is to accept that. To just look at it and go, ‘Oops, I did it again,’ and then stop, or start, or whathaveyou.

Reflection Exercise:

1. Did any of these answers provide you a new tool, a new way of looking at addiction or yourself? 

2. How will you fight the voices of vice in your own life in the coming days? 

Killing the voices is difficult work. For so many of us, those voices of addiction and habit have haunted for too long. For that reason, I’ve developed a daily Coming Clean email journal, which provides 30 prompts designed to walk you through addiction (any old addiction) and into the presence of an abiding God. Each day, you'll receive an email at 6:00 a.m., so you can begin your day in reflection. Would you consider coming along?

You can SIGN UP by following this link. It's completely free, though there will be an opportunity to support the work if you find it useful. (This journal is currently in a beta version, so please feel free to provide your feedback.)

***On the Blog***

I once was lost and will be lost again; was blind and still can't see. Isn't that true of all of us? 

***Coming Clean

Coming Clean:A Story of Faith is on the shelves! Join me in this journey (and help me spread the word)?

1.  Order a copy of Coming Clean from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Givingtons. 

2.  Leave a review! Reviews help customers make purchasing decisions, boost search algorithms, and conjure the internet hoo-doo that I'm not smart enough to understand. Would you consider leaving your honest review of Coming Clean?

3.  Tweet, Facebook, or Instagram your reviews of Coming Clean using the hashtag #ComingClean.

4.  Finally, forward this Tiny Letter to whomever might be interested in receiving these updates, and ask them to subscribe by following THIS LINK.

***Thank You***

Please know how thankful I am that you allow my tiny words into your jam-packed inbox. It is an honor and a privilege. And for the record, I count you all as my people; for that I am most grateful.

Peace, peace, peace. In all things peace.