We periodically recommend books that we believe are helpful for those in recovery to find the inspirations and the courage to continue on their journey to recovery. One such book is Ester Nicholson’s foundational process that she has termed “Soul Recovery: 12 Keys to Healing Addiction”. In this book, through a 12 week process of study and practice you will gain an insight in the powerful efforts and struggles of Ester Nicholson that ultimately resulted in a new life of serenity and happiness.
In Soul Recovery: 12 Keys to Healing Addiction, you discover the 12 keys that were instrumental in the author’s successful journey of recovery. Ester Nicholson shares with the readers the ups and downs of her journey and how she achieved the success she was so intently seeking just to lose it and getting back again with even greater dimensions to be the foundation of a successful career for her. Read this book and enjoy the unimaginable and heartwarming nuances of human characters that we all have and can tap into at the time of distress and need.
Lost My Way–and Became Insane
“I continued going to meetings almost every day. I was so afraid of getting loaded again, I could’ve just moved my bed into an AA meeting. I was fighting for my life, and my self-worth was non-existent. From where I stand today, I know that self-worth is a byproduct of integrity, clarity, balance, harmony and peace. Well, folks, that just wasn’t happening in my mental house- hold at this point. I wasn’t drinking and using drugs, but my addictive patterns were still my master when it came to the men in my life. If it wasn’t a man, it was food; if it wasn’t food, it was seeking approval, or addiction to the negative mental chatter in my head. Sometimes I had all of my obsessions going on at the same time.
Boy, was I a mess.
At this particular moment in my life, I was obsessed with Mark–my boyfriend at the time. An obsession is a thought that occupies the mind constantly. It’s a compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety. So obviously there was no room in my already cluttered mind for my daughter. Just when I thought, “Oh goody, I’m sober, I have a job and my own apartment, I can really focus on impressing Mark and make him love me,” my sister announced–out of the blue–that she was sending my daughter back home to live with me. I argued with her and begged for more time. She almost had to threaten me into taking her back. This was after my sister had taken custody of my daughter for two long years because I was deemed unfit to care for her prior to my sobriety.
Here I was, two years sober and still saying, “I’m not ready to be a mother yet.” But ready or not, my daughter was coming home. Initially, I was happy to see her. The love I felt for her was real, but selfishness and self-centeredness were just as powerful. How was I going to see Mark whenever I wanted to? I only had one bedroom. How would I sleep with him if my daughter was home?
My poor little girl thought she was going to be the center of my world when she came home–which was her rightful place. I would catch her looking at me out of the corner of my eye, and I could see such hunger and longing for my attention on her face. I would get angry with her for wanting more of me than I had to give. I was angry with her for making me feel that awful guilt in the pit of my gut, and I was angry because I knew she deserved so much more. I knew I was an awful mother, but felt as powerless against the urge to chase after Mark as I had when I was chasing the next hit of cocaine.
So, I put my obsession for Mark first. It really wasn’t an obsession for this particular person, as I found out later in my recovery. He was just the misdirected focus of a wounded soul.
I didn’t want someone to need or depend on me. I wanted to need and depend on someone that could take care of me– someone that could feed the insatiable hunger for approval and love I constantly longed for. I would choose people who resisted the job I had assigned to them–begging, manipulating and guilt tripping them into my needy world–all while ignoring the actual needs of my child.
I was, to put it frankly, insane.
Bill Wilson states, “The alcoholic cannot differentiate the true from the false.”
Another word that can be used for “alcoholic mind” is an unconscious, obsessed mind–wounded, fearful, and yes, “insane.” The definition of insanity is “a complete lack of reason or foresight,” or “doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results.”
If your insanity was never about drugs and alcohol, where in your life did this lack of reasoning and foresight play out? Are there times when you returned to the same unhealthy, abusive relationship over and over again, to the same gambling, shopping or eating habit again and again? How about just the recycling of painful and negative emotions that are keeping you stuck in an unfulfilled life?
If the answer to that is affirmative, that my friend, is insanity with a capital “I”–a complete lack of reason and foresight.
Lack of perspective and emotional balance doesn’t completely go away when you became sober, or even after practicing the 12 Steps. As again stated in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “There is a long road of reconstruction ahead.” Well, I was a little miffed at that. I thought that by getting sober, I would become a little like Mother Theresa, full of kindness and serenity. I thought all of my problems would go away. But the “reconstruction” had only just begun.
I use the word “hypnotism” quite a bit in my work. I always thought it meant having someone sit in front of you with a swinging trinket, saying stuff like, “Follow the trinket until you become very sleepy, and when I snap my fingers you will hate brownies.” In a way this is true, but it actually goes a lot deeper than that.
Hypnotism is described as a “sleep-like state” or “when someone’s attention is absorbed completely” in what they see. Addiction is like a hypnotic spell, with its own rules, patterns and obsessions. The spell of chronic fear, doubt, worry and low self-worth can be broken by practicing spiritual principles of meditation, forgiveness, making amends, and inner-child healing diligently and consistently. Through the committed practice to these healing tools, we have the opportunity to awaken to life’s truth–which is love, peace, balance and well-being. When that happens, we return to our natural state of wholeness and are restored to sanity.
The Soul Recovery process reveals that it’s possible to be “restored to sanity,” because sanity or “right perspective” is your original nature–who you really were created to be in the first place.
I believe with all my heart that insanity was not something you were created or born with, but was a state of mind that you learned, remembered, practiced and then experienced in your life. You were created out of and in the image of wholeness, magnificence, love, balance and order. You have simply forgotten this truth through years of practicing the opposite. It’s now time to reawaken to your wholeness as a perfect expression of Life.
Excerpted from Soul Recovery: 12 Keys to Healing Addiction…and 12 Steps for the Rest of Us. A Path to Wholeness, Serenity and Success By Ester Nicholson — (Hay House/Agape Media)
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.