Addiction and shame

When we use alcohol as an anaesthetic to bear our shame-related anxiety, we are likely to create children with the same shame-related anxiety, who are also likely to use alcohol; and so the suffering is tranmitted from generation to generation.

Evolution has equipped you to pass on the genes you carry.  Your genes do not work for you; you work for your genes. Your evolutionary/genetic mission is simple: to survive and procreate, ie. transmit the genes you carry. Evolution does not worry if you are happy, if your life has meaning, just so long as you pass on your genes. 

You were born into this world, you did not choose your parents, your family, your culture, your nationality, your religion, your teachers, your carers. As small and powerless as you were, you were (and still are) nevertheless a survival machine. You could not control your environment but you could adapt to it. So what does survival feel like to a small child? It is visceral, non-verbal; it feels like connection − that gaze of adoration directed toward you, knowing that you are seen, that you are valued, that you are cherished for just being alive, that just being who you are is enough.

Parents are sometimes unable to be fully present for their children, not necessarily because they are bad people; it is just that they have their own problems, their own traumas, and their own ways of trying to cope (with alcohol, work, other distractions or anaesthetics). This is a very common, yet unrecognised form of neglect.  The child does not feel seen, approved of or loved and so the child adapts/changes and tries to become a being that is worthy of love.  This might mean always getting top marks at school, always being good, always being helpful, putting the needs of others before their own needs, trying to be perfect.  This can lead to the child rejecting its authentic self, often feeling shame for who he or she really is.

The strategy that enabled you to survive as a child, now as an adult, is likely to create insecurity, unhappiness, anxiety, even a sense of emptiness, difficulty in inter-personal relationships. It can lead to anxiety and even depression.

So how do we solve this? With alcohol!

Since the day you were born you have been subject to a relentless barrage of propaganda, that is to say lies which go like this: Alcohol is a harmless adult pleasure; it’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s sophisticated; it is helpful, it makes you happy; it helps with stress; beer is no more dangerous than a strong fizzy drink, except for those poor saddies/defectives known as “alcoholics”. (There is no such disease as alcoholism as society widely understands it). All these commonly-held beliefs are easily disproved lies. Alcohol is in fact toxic and addictive and the most destructive drug in our society. Think for a moment, most people start drinking during adolescence. Consequently, our society is filled with adults who have never experienced adult- life without alcohol.

Most people who drink alcohol habitually are dependent /addicted and as such, they cannot be fully present for their children so they recreate the conditions which create more drinkers, and so the cycle continues. The reality of this dependence/addiction often only becomes apparent in stressful times: divorce, COVID, lock-down, grief, depression, financial hardship.

So if you have children worry or suspect that you are not as present as you could be for them because of alcohol or some other substance, just think, maybe you could stop this cycle of shame by freeing yourself. You are not to blame for falling into the alcohol addiction trap; however it is your responsibility to do something about it.

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