“So I discovered alcohol at 13 and for the first time, the very first time it kind of told me that that was my medication. That was what I needed to get this feeling, this terrible feeling of loneliness to leave me. So, I didn’t like the taste of alcohol but I liked the effect of alcohol. And that was my – alcohol became my how can I say…my God! So I finally became a somebody through alcohol. And then this went on and on and on but again, the pain was always there between the last drink and the next one. This feeling of loneliness will always be there. But as soon as I will pick up, this will numb the feeling.”
DANIEL’S REFLECTION: I met “Yukon Dan” (Daniel Plound) when I was visiting Penticton, British Columbia. His story of work and travels around the world is larger than life. But his story of alcoholism and addiction is very much the things of life. What I learnt from Yukon Dan is that addictions are perfectly designed to take us away from reality including the ultimate reality which is the Divine Presence. I searched for a good definition of addiction, especially one that goes beyond substance abuse, and I found this one that spoke to me:
“Addiction is repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.” (https://www.mentalhelp.net/ ) I would add to that definition that the involvement with that substance or activity “separates me from my pain.”
This seems perfectly in line with Carl Jung’s three epic statements that “the foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of true (legitimate) suffering,” “people cannot stand too much reality,” and “people will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul.” This has me reflecting on all the things I do and have done to avoid facing my own soul, my own reality. In particular, I have used relationships, I have used food, and I have used work and busyness all to avoid my own soul and my own reality. Overall, I am grateful to be separated from many of the addictive behaviors I have suffered in the past. Right now I am struggling with food and working to change how I often use it to avoid difficult feelings. I am grateful to be living in a time where much more is known about addiction. I am grateful that my own journey, like Yukon Dan’s, has brought me to a deeper relationship with myself, with my fellow human beings, and with God as I understand God.