relapse quoteIf we did autopsies on relapses, the most prevalent listed finding would be: Relapse due to self inflicted wounds.  Self inflicted wounds occur when we focus the considerable self destructive weapons in our arsenal, to hurt and maim, our oldest, truest friend, ourselves.  One addict explains, “I got all up in my head,” preceding the damage report. Who hasn’t observed a friend having a world class pity party, on his way to acting out. These are the self inflicted wounds.

Many deal with issues not of their own making, unrequested trauma, genetic or cultural issues not of their choosing. These issues require their own special therapeutic solutions.  But the self inflicted wounds fall within our accountability and we do have options.  There are skills that can mitigate these. Maybe we should describe recovery  as the process of learning or gaining the skills to stop the carnage.   We have the power to stop shooting ourselves in the foot … or head, as the case may be.

A good place to start is by gaining the skill of self awareness.  The supporting skill of quieting self is the portal that allows us to accurately view within. Self awareness helps us decipher the messages feelings present rather than just descending into the chaotic “sky is falling” desperation of the unquieted.  Self awareness helps identify the issues in play so we can choose the appropriate solutions.

Some accountability will keep us on task as we add the attitude of acceptance (living life on life’s terms, including living without expectations.)  We are then ready to master the skill of living in this particular moment.  Giving up the urge to fixate on worry about the future, there by avoiding the harvest of yet another bumper crop of anxiety to deal with.  Staying in this particular moment also means no running to the past to worship at the sacred alter of “wouda, shouda, couda,” the source of our shame, depression and self hatred.

Quite interestingly, in the depths of addiction, we are absolutely convinced our self inflicted wounds are suffered at the hands of others.  People don’t listen to us, we don’t get the support we need, we find ourselves offended, or perhaps, in the fertile soils of our mind we grow gargantuan resentments (and yes they are perennials that never stop blooming.) Nothing remotely close to personal accountability ever enters the addict’s garden.

Our character defects, in fact, spawn the wounds.  Our insecurity, fear, jealousy, anger, self righteousness, and their many close cousins father the daggers that cut our recovery flesh.  Their toxic, infectious nature chokes out serenity, humility and healing and leave us with festering wounds.  And guess whose fingerprints are all over the  weapon?