Tag Archive for: Addiction

Addiction, Dependency, and The Sacred Enneagram

 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We’re all drunk on something. Perhaps this statement is too simplistic, you think. Perhaps you’d claim no dependencies, no addictions, no compulsive habits. But ask yourself this: What is addiction?

In his new book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, Chris Heuertz offers unique insights about addiction. And he’s not writing of the common addictions—booze, pills, porn gambling, whatever. Instead, Chris digs deeper, takes a more holistic approach. Describing deeper addictions, Chris writes:

“It’s important to remember that power and control, affection and esteem, and security and survival aren’t bad needs in and of themselves. The problem arises when in our adult lives we become addicted to one of these programs to maintain our happiness. The word addiction comes from the Latin addicto, which suggests being literally given over to something in devotion. As the term evolved, it took on the legal connotation of enslavement as a form of debt.”

See? Addiction isn’t just about chemical dreams and coping anesthesias. Even if your not prone to lining up rails or knocking down shots, you can become addicted to some underlying basic need. Doesn’t this make sense? Don’t you know control freaks or folks obsessed with security or self-esteem junkies? Don’t you know men who’ll do anything for another hit of power? This, Heuertz argues, is a soul addiction, a place of attachment, a place of soul slavery.

So often, when our underlying soul addictions fail us, the pain comes roaring in. And though Chris’s book is not a book about addiction (per se) his discussion of addiction within the Enneagram framework—a sort of spiritual personality test (though Chris will kill me for this reduction)—gives us some real insight. (As an aside, a working knowledge of the Enneagram isn’t essential, here, though it might be helpful. Stick with me.)

According to the Enneagram, I am a type Five. I’m marked by a need to form thoughtful conclusions based on investigation. So often, my search for knowledge stems from my own hyperactive need for security. So, when my son was ill, when my soul addiction for security couldn’t be satiated, a deep, existential pain set in. Heuertz aptly recasts my story:

“One of the clearest tales of type Five in disintegration is Seth Haines’s book, Coming Clean: A Story of Faith, the heart-wrenching memoir of a young man whose child is facing dire health risks and likely death. Seth knows what to do: he finds the best doctors, has his faith community say all the right prayer, and commits to being a loving and present father as he cares for his son. But nothing works.

And so he wades into the murky waters of [alcohol]. The constant buzz of the booze is Seth’s way of dulling the constant mental activity his mind is addicted to—the continual churning and turning over the problem in pursuit of solutions. In his own disintegration, Seth adopts type Seven’s propensity to overuse or overdo anything that offers pleasure as a way of rescuing himself from the mental and emotional agony.”

With security in short supply, unable to find answers, I felt the pain of scarcity. Where were the answers? Where was the healing? Where was God?  Pain being too much to bear, I turned to the “propensity to overuse or overdo anything that offers pleasure as a way of rescuing” myself. Gin was my anything of choice.

Heuertz’s work is rich on so many levels, but for those of us coming to terms with our own addictions, especially those with some interest in the Enneagram, its richness lies in the fact that he draws us to the deep truth. The true addictions we all battle lie beneath the alcohol, beneath the heroin, beneath the shopping or social media injection. These addictions rise from deeper addictions, the need for power, control, affection, esteem, security, and survival.

Consider it. Doesn’t this feel true? And if it does, ask yourself this: Can I name my deeper soul addiction?

***

Buy your copy of THE SACRED ENNEAGRAM: FINDING YOUR UNIQUE PATH TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH by following this link. (P.S. This is a completely unpaid, unsponsored, un-affiliated post.)

 

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It’s National Recovery Month. Come Clean?

September is National Recovery Month, a month raising awareness for those struggling with addiction, dependency, and compulsive habits. What’s more, September is the month I came clean four years ago. It’s the month I stepped into my own exploration of sobriety. That exploration has led me here, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Around these parts, we don’t limit discussion of recovery to alcohol or drugs. Instead, we look at recovery as something for everyone, something for the chemical addict and the over-shopper, over-eater, under-eater, video-game freak, or people pleaser. We all have our own bags, see. We all have different ways, different habits of avoiding pain. In part, this is the reason I curated the Recovery Room series years ago. (Check it out. There’s something there for everyone.)

Today, I’m asking you to take an inventory of your life. What are the habits and dependencies you use to numb anesthetize the pain of your life? What are the things you use to hold the presence of God at arm’s length? Can you identify a primary dependency? For me (and many of you) it was drinking. For some, it’s something wholly different. Get alone. Be honest. Jot down your dependency. Then? Get some resources, get a community, and get to work.

And as you move forward in an exploration of your dependency, compulsive habits, or addiction, I’m asking you to participate in my journey (and in National Recovery Month). It’s a journey I’ve written about in Coming Clean: A Story of Faith. There, I share the first 90 days of my own recovery journey with you, and show the practice that helped set me free. It’s raw at times, tender at others, but it’s always honest.

What are some ways you can participate in the journey of Coming Clean? What are some ways you can share the message?

COMING CLEAN RESOURCES FOR RECOVERY MONTH:

1. Coming Clean
Coming Clean: A Story of Faith shares my 90-day journey into recovery. And isn’t it fitting that it began in September (2013). This is my story, sure. It’s your story, too. Grab a copy. Grab an extra copy for your friends.

“Seth writes with a distinctly Southern sensibility—elegant, evocative, lyrical–and his wisdom and honesty shine through every page, gently illuminating our own fears and secret hearts along the way.” ~Shauna Niequist, author of Present Over Perfect.

(Patrons of my work at the $6.00-$10.00 tier receive a free copy of Coming Clean.)

2. Audio Readings
Would you like to listen to sample chapters of Coming Clean? Click on the photos below to listen to the first two chapters. (For more samples as they’re available, join my Patreon Community.)

3. Facebook Group
Would you like a place to discuss recovery from any old thing? Join this little Facebook Group. There are some good discussions there from time to time.

4. Coming Clean Journal
Receive thirty days of email prompts leading you to examine your own addictions, attachments, or dependencies and leading you into your own recovery.

Please feel free to share these resources with others who might need them. And if you have any question about whether someone might need them, remember this: We’re all drunk on something. 

 

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Do you like the content here or in my Tiny Letter? Then I’d like to invite you to join my Patreon community. What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

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Normalizing Therapy (Or How To Ungoop Your Noggin)

In the autumn of 2013, I found myself walking into a new season, a season of sobriety. If you’ve followed my work for any amount of time, you know the story, how my inebriation grew from a great pain. (You can read this story in Coming Clean.) You know, too, that I was able to untangle my mental morass of pain and alcohol dependency only by way of a good therapist. That good therapist–he helped me find the road to recovery. For that, I’m grateful.

In these years of different life, I’ve continued to share my story of sobriety and have praised the virtues of therapists. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ad infinitum: if there are experts in the human psyche, in mental health, pain, or recovery shouldn’t we use them? On so many occasions after I’ve shared my story, I’ve heard from others who’ve failed in their own attempts to unwind their tangled black brain threads, who only found clarity by way of their own therapist.

Last week, fortune smiled, and I was invited to share my story at a local clinic. I gathered in a group room with some of the best therapists and counselors in Northwest Arkansas, and I shared my story of pain, shared how it gooped up my noggin for a murky few years. I encouraged them in their work, told them how a member of their profession helped me live into a new reality. He helped me find the path to true sobriety, a sobriety characterized less by the to-drink-or-not-to-drink questions and more by the to-live-whole-or-not-to-live-whole questions. I could not be more grateful for their profession, I told them, and I meant every word.

These therapists were gracious, and they fielded my honest, rootsy, real confession. Maybe I cried once or twice while I shared my story (sometimes the pain still comes calling). Maybe one or two of them did, too. Maybe I cussed once or twice (pain pulls tears and curses from even the best humans), and not one of them blushed. Maybe I found empathy in the faces of these very human therapists, and in that empathy, I saw the beauty of people who cared about my story, who care about the stories of their clients. I saw folks who carry the hope of stability to folks who’ve gone awonk.

These therapists–they have a calling.

There are those who believe they don’t need therapy, the John Wayne types who six-shooter their way through any issue and come out smelling like gunpowder and Old Spice. Likewise, there are those in the Christian faith (perhaps pastors, priests, and deacons) who believe therapy is little more than applied humanism, that it supplies thin excuses for sin. “Repent and quit,” they say, as if it’s that easy.

Dear Mr. Wayne, Mr. Pastor, Sister Christian, let me be clear: your bootstrapping hornswoggle ain’t worth the bluster that blows it.

Weeks ago, I spoke with a pastor about my sobriety, how it was born from more than a handful of visits to a therapist who didn’t beat me over the head with scriptures on repentance. To his credit, he wasn’t dubious, wasn’t critical of my process. In fact, he showed great deference and support. At the tail end of the conversation, he asked how the church could normalize therapy for its parishioners. I choked down my immediate answer–does the church really think there’s something abnormal about therapy? I muddled out some answer about vulnerability in leadership, about pastors and leaders needing to lead the way to the therapists’ office, which is true. To be frank, though, I failed to give him a clear answer.

I’ve mulled the pastor’s question over, and I think I found my answer in the clinic visit last week. Normalization of therapy (in or outside of the church) happens when we admit that sometimes we can’t sort out our own noggin-goop, our own tangled black brain threads. Normalization of therapy happens when we watch therapists exercise their gifts, flex their empathy, when we participate with them in that process as patients. Normalization of therapy happens when leaders (read: pastors and priests) use their platforms to speak of their own therapeutic experiences, when they admit that they’re no John Wayne.

There’s no magic to normalizing therapy, whether in or outside the Christian faith. There is this, though: go, and you’ll see how normal it is, how magical it is, too.

If you’d like to read more about recovery from any addiction, habit, or dependency, please check out my Recovery Room series. No matter the vice, I think you’ll find something there for you.

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Addict #1 (Rose’s Baptism)

Today’s poem was inspired by a reader email. Enjoy.

***

Rose emailed,
a street-walking
shelter-dweller,
sixty-two years
in the making,
thirty-eight of which
were stitched together
by heroin needles.

Daughter of the Pope,
sister of the molested,
aunt of the overdosed,
twin of poppies,
welfare patient
with tracks between
her toes, fingers,
elbow folds,

what’s to say
of Rose’s life,
except that
rock-bottom
pushed her
up in the water,
a stone rising
into new
concentric
circles.

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Pray Yourself Sober

What is sobriety? Doesn’t it mean more than keeping free of the bottle, the needle, the prescription pill, the credit card bill? This has been the drum I’ve banged for nearly three years, now. Sobriety, it seems to me, is that quality of connection that keeps us clear-headed. And in this modern world of noise, and news, and endless screaming over each other, don’t we need that kind of connection more than ever?

I’ve tried my best over the last few months to cultivate personal practices of sobriety, and in that, I’ve turned to the writings of George Buttrick, the twentieth-century Presbyterian pastor who wrote about prayer. Buttrick’s practices and insights lead me to quieter places, places of thanksgiving, confession, and rest. I’ve enjoyed these practices, and I’m inviting you to join me in them.

An invitation begs attendance. Doesn’t it?

I’ve created two daily email plans based on Buttrick’s work. The first, The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgivingis a five-day email plan stretching into the recognition of the good gifts of God in our everyday lives. The next, The Practice of Prayer: Confession, is a five-day email plan of examination and recognition. Confession–it’s hard, maybe, but aren’t most things worth doing?

If you sign up for the Thanksgiving plan, you’ll receive the Confession plan immediately following the completion of your gratitude practice. And if you complete the Confession plan, you’ll receive an email notification when new prayer plans are available (I’ll release another one in the next month or two).

Would you consider signing up? And as you’re working through the plans, feel free to invite a conversation partner or two (perhaps a small group) along. You can invite your friends to sign up by way of Twitter or  Facebook.

So, pull a group together, and let’s go. I’ll be working my way through these plans, too (you can’t practice thanksgiving and confession too much). Let’s cultivate practices of sobriety. Shall we?

 

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The content here takes hours (and no small amount of spare change) to produce. If you enjoy reading my content, whether here, in the bi-monthly Tiny Letter, or in any of my free email campaigns, would you consider SUPPORTING THE WORK? (It’ll only set you back a cup of coffee a month.) And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, sign up to receive it straight to your inbox.

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