Over the years I have developed a professional pet peeve around the word “normal”. Predictably, when clients express their concept of normal it is in an effort to compare themselves to society and how they fall short. Whether they struggle with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or pleasing others, feelings of shame and not measuring up become deeply rooted. To break the chains of addiction one must first break the cycle of shame.
The process of breaking shame begins when people begin to see the truth that there is no such thing as normal. Every man woman and child we come in contact with is struggling with something. Some people hide their struggles better than others, some struggles are more destructive, and others have struggles that are more socially acceptable. But the one truth is WE ALL STRUGGLE. As humans we have much in common, but we are all unique.
Once a person has accepted that we are all struggling, the shame of addiction losses its power, and they are freed to set their sites on the path to recovery. There is a mental shift from the shame of the past to the hope of the future. When a client realizes they are on equal ground as everyone else they are then empowered to address the struggles that keep them from achieving their full potential. As this downward cycle of shame is broken the very struggle that can hold a person back, can become the very thing that drives them to growth. Shame of addiction becomes eradicated when a person begins to see the struggle as a gift. A blessing that forces growth. Some unfortunates are not blessed with the gift of addiction and therefore can keep their struggles hidden, or develop defense mechanisms to avoid the pains of growth and change. However, addiction does not afford that short-cut. Recovery comes as a gift to those who need. Those that are willing to leave shame behind and grow into the men and women they were created to be.