Entering the Black Hole of Wholeness – The End of Addiction
One thing I have learned in my struggles with addiction is that it’s never about behaviours or substances, but the relationship I have to such things. My addictions were always an attempt to fill a void within mysel. Had it had a voice, this void would have said something like “I am afraid, abandoned, and alone!”
As I grew in awareness of how my addictions functioned, I came to experience this void as an internal black hole. This black hole pulls whatever it can towards itself in the hope of filling the void and feeling safe.
Around the edge of the void was a fearful angst. If I would push or challenge myself too much, the fearful angst would intensify as a way of reeling me back in. Over the years I did whatever I could to avoid feeling these emotions. I used alcohol, drugs, sex, junk food, social media, shopping, work, gambling, and pretty much anything else to hand, as a means of distancing and distracting myself.
Filling the Begging Bowl
An old teacher of mine would speak of this black hole through the metaphor of a begging bowl. She would say that, as we go through life, we seek things to fill this begging bowl so that we can feel whole and complete. The problem is that this begging bowl has a hole in the bottom of it and, even if we fill it with most divine experiences and substances, any sense of completeness will soon drain away leaving us feeling empty, and hollow. Then the begging starts again.
Another teacher of mine suggested, as a way to get free from this cycle of addiction, to stop reaching outside of myself for something to complete me. He said, if I did this, I would be able to face my fear, and it would lose its hold over me. I followed his instructions and, whilst the fearful angst no longer controlled my decisions, and my addictive tendencies reduced, I still felt restless. Deep down, I still felt abandoned and alone. The black hole was still there.
Entering the Black Hole
I came to realise that I was spending my life dancing around the edge of this black hole, without actually experiencing it. I was touching the edge of it from time to time and pulling back when it felt too scary. I continued to feed it whatever it asked for, when it all got too much.
As it turned out, this black hole didn’t want any alcohol, drugs, or anything else. When I stopped my dance of avoidance, turned my attention towards it, experienced it, and listened, it only wanted to be seen, heard, and felt. Just like a hurting child, it wanted to be loved. It didn’t want to be given a sweet and dismissed, which is basically what I had been doing for years. Abandoning myself again and again, and thus re-enforcing and strengthening the very thing I was attempting to escape from.
In the end it turned out that this thing that had appeared to be a big black hole, was really just an aspect of myself longing to come home. In life, most of the time, we can’t skip steps on the path and get away with it. Nathaniel Brandon said, “You cannot leave a place you have never been”. All of my attempts, both subtle and gross, from the lowest points of my addiction, to my best intended spiritual practices, had been an attempt to leave a place I had not yet been.
In turning to face the black hole, I found more wholeness through reconnecting with a long lost part of myself that was longing to be loved. This has not been a one off. In going through this process, without realizing, I extended an invitation to all the lost parts of myself to come home. And home they have been coming, one at a time. And the door of my heart is now open to receive them.
Is this the end of addiction? Who can say? Certainly my life is completely addiction free right now and has been for some time. Of course, as I go forward in life, I am always finding more subtle levels in all of this. The big difference is that I am no longer shutting this side of myself down. Instead I am relating too it, in dialogue with it, and listening to its longings rather than dismissing it with drugs, alcohol, or whatever else is to hand.