Each one of us build walls around ourselves. We do it to keep safe.
Those walls are very different for each person. We build walls to protect ourselves.
We build a home. It has walls. Those walls keep out danger. It keeps out the extreme heat in summer and the dire cold and rain in winter. It keeps out people that have ulterior motives. Walls keep us and our possessions safe.
Walls are vital. But when do the walls we build go from keeping us safe, to keeping us isolated? To trapping us? To keep us from reaching out? From isolating us?
When those are emotional walls. We all put them up. They are needed temporarily when we follow our intuition. When we sense danger. Or fear. When we believe we are about to feel pain.
But when do those walls go from protecting us to trapping us?
When we suffer with emotional pain. Emotional pain is the most destructive of all pain.
Because we feel it deeply. We may feel it to our very core. But no one sees it. It is not like a broken leg where everyone recognizes the cast and offers assistance.
We keep emotional pain inside and we build walls around us thinking it will keep us safe. And what happens? The pain and suffering from emotional pain, from the trauma that was the cause of that emotional pain, never gets addressed. It is never dealt with.
So many people are hurting in such profound ways. They are hurting often because the very people who should have kept them safe, didn’t.
People build walls to keep people out. They also build walls to keep their pain in.
“If I don’t let you in, you can’t hurt me”.
Walls keep that emotional pain that is devastating their life, trapped inside.
“If I don’t share my story, I won’t be judged”. “If I don’t share my pain they won’t know how ‘weak’ I am”. “If I don’t share my pain they won’t know how ‘dirty’ I feel”. “If I don’t share my pain they won’t know ‘what a loser’ I am”. “If I don’t share my pain I won’t be rejected”.
Every single person battling addiction is carrying emotional pain. It may be pain they have carried since childhood. It may be a situation where they were made to feel less than. When someone’s unkind words were like a knife to their heart. If they were sexually abused. Physically punished. Felt abandoned or neglected. We don’t have a need to self medicate unless we feel emotional pain. That feeling of not being good enough. Of being a disappointment.
Perhaps your loved one had an absolutely wonderful childhood. Was treasured, loved and kept safe. You did everything as a parent or caregiver to protect that child.
So you ask yourself, “why would they be suffering with emotional pain”? You know you did absolutely everything you could to protect your child. To love and care for them. To give them opportunities.
Emotional pain may have been caused by an incident you never knew anything about.
Emotional pain may also be caused from the inner dialogue your loved one had with themselves. There was no basis for it. You know how wonderful they are. But for whatever reason, they carry the feeling of not being good enough. For whatever reason they may feel they have been a disappointment. They may feel they are ‘less than’ others.
You wonder why they could feel that way. You know they are wonderful. But what you may not know is that they are struggling with depression or anxiety.
They are struggling with feelings that you don’t see or can see no basis for, but to them it is real. If you feel ‘less than’, no one can make you “feel better”. Why? Because your feelings are real to you. It is that dialogue we have with ourselves.
If your child had had a wonderful upbringing but used a substance at a party one night and that is how their journey into addiction took root, that is emotional pain they are now carrying.
No one puts a needle in their arm if life is good. Self medicating is all about pain. Real or imagined, it is that emotional pain that is most destructive.
80% of all overdose deaths are men. Three out of four suicides are committed by men.
Men are suffering and we need as a society to do everything possible to open that dialogue. To let men know they are not alone. To encourage men to talk about their emotional pain.
For years and years men have been expected to “be a man”. “Big boys don’t cry”. “Don’t be weak”. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. That mind set is what keeps the men in our lives feeling trapped. Feeling that they cannot share their emotional pain for fear of being judged. For fear of rejection.
And the walls go up. They suffer in silence. They often turn to drugs or alcohol to self medicate and far to many loved ones take their own lives. Not because they want to die. They just are trying to stop the unbelievable pain they are feeling.
As a society we all have to do everything we can to support brain health. To support those who are working at changing the stigma and isolation around those diseases affecting the brain. Affecting behaviors. To encourage our government officials, our medical personal to give the diseases and conditions affecting the brain such as alcoholism and drug addiction, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD the same respect and consideration as diseases affecting the physical body.
Only when we start medically treating the whole person will those suffering with addictions and brain health issues, those struggling with the stigma and feelings of shame, receive the care, compassion and help they deserve.
We can’t just choose treating those with health conditions from the neck down. Stigma and secrets kept out of fear of judgment must end. Those walls must come down. We are loosing far to many loved ones who have suffered in silence way to long.
I encourage you all to visit a site http://www.HeadsUpGuys.org The information contained on the HeadsUpGuys site will give true understanding and help to those suffering and to those of us who love them.
I am also attaching a music clip – about walls – it is truly moving. It is raw. It is heartbreaking. It is real. It lets us ‘in’ as to how our loved one may be feeling.
Never give up on those you love. Keep hope alive. Hope for your loved one and hope for yourself. In all the pain that addiction causes, please remember to take care of yourself.
“The kindest hearts often have the most scars”. I see the pain and scars your loved one’s addiction has caused. Remember, you are not alone – reach out. I truly care.