Addiction Recovery Means Using the Steps Plus Going Deep Into Our Trauma

17570823380_51e9e1f35a_zOne of my favorite codependency authors is Anne Wilson Schaef. Some of my favorite quotes of hers are:

There are so many ways to heal. Arrogance may have a place in technology, but not in healing. I need to get out of my own way if I am to heal.

We must move in our recovery from one addiction to another for two major reasons: first, we have not recognized and treated the underlying addictive process, and second, we have not accurately isolated and focused upon the specific addictions.

1. From LA Times: “Everyday Addicts“:

“My experience is that everybody in this audience is an addict of some kind or another,” declares Anne Wilson Schaef, unabashedly categorizing about 500 women ministers as users and abusers: Workaholics. Shopaholics. Caffeine addicts. Alcoholics. Co-dependents. Prescription pill poppers. Perhaps all of the above.

The women are not offended. Instead, they nod in agreement and cheer her on with frequent applause.

A “recovering psychotherapist,” author of the bestselling 1987 book “When Society Becomes an Addict,” and organizational consultant who works with Fortune 500 corporations and branches of the U.S. government, Schaef is at it again, illuminating the monumental level of addiction she sees in society today.

And it’s not a pretty sight when she gets to work “starting to scrub the teeth of a dragon”–ministerial molars included, as she did at the recent national conference of female Lutheran ministers at Anaheim’s Inn at the Park Hotel. Just listen to her rag these women, many of whom are dressed in clerical collars:

“Unless you’re in recovery (from your addictions), you’re part of the problem,” she warns, having made it clear that she considers “process” addictions such as workaholism just as soul-snatching and life-threatening as chemical addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse.”

2. I believe the same as she states here about recovery: (

“The best tool we have for that is the 12-step program, but it doesn’t do it all. We have to do the deep work, which is trying, but a very exciting thing about being a human. Our bodies and our brains and minds store everything that has happened in our lives, and it’s absolutely marvelous because it means it’s there to work with when we are ready. It usually comes out in the form of feelings, memories and emotions. We’ve all had the experience of watching a movie and you suddenly start to cry and you don’t even know what it’s about. Or you’re suddenly angry with someone who doesn’t deserve that level of anger and you know that there’s something else that is behind that. I see that as a door into deep process work. There’s none of us who doesn’t have trauma from childhood and growing up in our families and in this society; some worse than others, but even if you were the school golden girl, you have some trauma. Our beings are so constituted that we have the opportunity to work through those traumas and heal from them and learn from them, not matter what they are.”

3. Also from Alan Eisenberg: “Healing from Buried Pain: You Must Go Through It“:

I found that to begin the healing process, you have to first let go of the pain of the past. You cannot heal without this crucial first step. Here’s what helped me “go through it” so I could let go and heal.

Remember and face what you’d prefer to avoid.

You can’t go over your problem, you can’t go around your problem; you will need to go through it. This means that you will have to face and in many cases relive the issues that you have suppressed for so long.

For me, it was having to deal with the low self-esteem I had developed from my C-PTSD and relive all of these events again. Yes, it was painful, but far less painful than a lifetime of burying my feelings would be.

Talk to someone you trust.

I went the professional route, and I found “talk therapy” to be the most helpful part of my healing process. At first it hurt terribly to dredge up these stories, and I would cry as I relived the hurt. But after a while of telling it, it became just a story.
You might also find it helpful to see a psychologist or therapist, or it might be sufficient to lean on a friend or relevant. The important thing is that you share all the details you’ve buried inside so you’re no longer hiding them in shame.

Focus on the good in the bad.

I learned that, while people can be cruel, others can be loving and supportive—like my family and true friends. As I’ve opened up to them, they’ve shown me sympathy and empathy. I wouldn’t have chosen to be bullied, but I appreciate that the difficult times in life allow us to see how much others care.
It is easy to forget the good parts of your life when you are going through a difficult time. Remember that there is both good and bad in your story, and you too may feel differently about the pain you’ve endured.

Find a lesson in your pain.

It helped me to find a lesson in this painful period in my life—something that I could use to help myself and others going forward.

I learned that many people hurt others when they’re hurting. They’re dealing with their own pain and they take it out on others through displaced aggression.

Understanding this can help me be compassionate to others, so I can be there for the people who are hurting as my loved ones have been there for me.

Remember that life is not one journey, but many journeys.

Previously, I saw my life as one big journey with a beginning (birth), middle (mid-life), and end (death). But then I changed my thinking to see my life as many little journeys.

By doing this and allowing this one period of time to be just one journey that had a conclusion, I was able to let it go and put it behind me.

I found as I wrote out each of my mini-journeys that I had so many good ones, but each had an ending. It’s like the saying “this too shall pass.” You’ll note that it neither says that what will pass is good or bad, just that it will pass.

Photo credit.


  1. You know, life iS a never ending discovery of the self. Some of us just have more to discover than others.
    Thanks, I always leave here with good food for thought…


    • Thank you. I have enjoyed you for years. Those of us who take the narrower road of self-discovery are rich indeed.


  2. P.S. Your title just struck me. “Emotional Sobriety”.
    Something vitally important yet so often overlooked. Not even recognized or addressed.


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