Friday the 13th Reflections: Just for Today (NA)

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Today is Friday the 13th, a day that many people think is “unlucky” or taboo. To dispel some of the fear being tossed around today, we wanted to share some of the encouragement that comes from the book, Just for Today by Narcotics Anonymous.
This book is a well-known daily reading devotional aimed to support, encourage, and share insight with anyone in recovery from drug addiction.

September 13, 2019 : Something different

“We had to have something different, and we thought we had found it in drugs. “
Basic Text, p.13
Many of us have always felt different from other people. We know we’re not unique in feeling that way; we hear many addicts share the same thing. We searched all our lives for something to make us all right, to fix that “different” place inside us, to make us whole and acceptable. Drugs seemed to fill that need.
When we were high, at least we no longer felt the emptiness or the need. There was one drawback: The drugs, which were our solution, quickly became our problem.
Once we gave up the drugs, the sense of emptiness returned. At first we felt despair because we didn’t have any solution of our own to that miserable longing. But we were willing to take direction and began to work the steps. As we did, we found what we’d been looking for, that “something different” Today, we believe that our lifelong yearning was primarily for knowledge of a Higher Power; the “something different” we needed was a relationship with a loving God. The steps tell us how to begin that relationship.
Just for Today: My Higher Power is the “something different” that’s always been missing in my life I will use the steps to restore that missing ingredient to my spirit.

Feeling Like the ‘Something Different’ Person

A lot of us have felt like an Outsider. Even before addiction, maybe as a young person, you felt too weird, too loud, too shy, too unattractive, too dumb, or too unimportant to fully “fit in”. Whether it was with your family, friends, or the world at large, it’s likely you felt unaccepted. Because of this it was probably hard to accept yourself in some way.
To deal with this lack of acceptance, maybe you started to seek outward fulfillment. A lot of us experimented with drugs or alcohol at some point to either:

  1. Numb the internal pain of feeling like being too much of “something different”
  2. Let loose and forget all social barriers, and in return experience some form of inebriated acceptance from peers… or,
  3. Fill the emotional void caused by something extremely painful in our lives that left us either paralyzed or unaware on how to process it.

Of course, there are as many reasons for starting drug or alcohol use as there are individuals who become addicted! But the main theme is that a lot of us began using during a time where we struggled with some sense of disconnection– from our loved ones, from our immediate world, or from ourselves.

The Need to Belong is a Biological Need

Every person has a desire to belong and to be cared about. It’s not only a psychological need– it’s how we developed from a primal, hunter-gatherer, evolutionary process.
Thousands of years ago, humans lived in clans or tribes. In order to survive, people had to rely on (and contribute to) their community for food, shelter, family, protection from danger, and a potential mate.
This goes way back to prehistoric times– even before recorded history, Homo sapiens (humans) dwelt in small or large groups as a working, connected community. Their main priorities simply consisted of making sure everyone had food, water, and shelter to live. If one person rebelled or didn’t contribute their share to the group, they were likely rejected, left behind, or sometimes even killed.

When you think of it that way, the way our society now functions is still similar in mentality, but drastically different than our ancestors long ago once knew. We still have to rely on food, water, and shelter; we all still want to help others and be helped. However, now we have many individualized ideals, societal class systems, and less life-threatening worries. Much of our food, shelter, & protection all come from one government-operated program or another. Aside from childhood, most of us no longer depend on our close friends or family in order to live.
These are all luxuries we can appreciate and take advantage of for convenience, of course. But deep down, our mammalian minds are still used to operating from that biological survival mode of: Belong to a tribe, always watch out for dangerous threats, and run (or fight!) predators.
Interesting, right?

So what happens when this need to belong is not met?

When we experience not having any “group” to belong to, we automatically sense danger. We feel rejected, unwanted, weak, unsupported and overall threatened of our security in life. This danger isn’t something we often consciously identify. Instead, we feel the emotions that come along with it as something we should avoid, judge ourselves for, and find some type of outlet to distract us from. This is when a lot of people turn to substances.
The use of drugs or alcohol can feel like a comforting tonic to any ailment at first. But over time, it can become a psychological or even physical dependency. Our brains start to adjust to the continual use of the substances we rely on. Then it can be difficult to get off of the drugs, even if we really want to stop using and know we need to.

Still Feeling Different in Recovery

In rehab or addiction recovery it is normal to fall back into those feelings of being too different. Or even feeling “out of place” with all those past emotions coming back up to the surface, now without the crutch of drugs or alcohol to soothe the pain.
In the Just for Today reading, it mentions that our Higher Power is the thing we need to fill the void of being too different. A Higher Power can be anything that helps you feel less alone and remain curious or intentional about life. Whether that be God, Allah, Buddha, Nature, the Ego, the Universe, Energy, or whatever else you want to call it… it is something that you sense helps provide another chance for you, gives you hope, helps you find meaning, and guides you back to your better self.

Finding The Connection Again Through Recovery

Whether you define a higher power or not, the bottom line we’ll wrap this article up with is this. We all long for an understanding community. And we all desire total acceptance– before, during, and after any addiction.
Finding the help you need through a supportive recovery group is essential to recovering from long-term addiction. Even further, a solid understanding of what led to your addiction in the first place can be one of the most freeing things to work through, especially with the help of a caring therapist or addiction specialist.

The Mantra for September 13th:

Just for Today: My Higher Power is the “something different” that’s always been missing in my life. I will use the steps to restore that missing ingredient to my spirit.

Try reflecting on this phrase today. What brings you that sense of “something different” you needed as a young person and that you may need to replenish now during recovery? It could be your higher power, your sense of belonging to a supportive community, self-acceptance, a hobby, or a life pursuit. Whatever it is, remember you’re not alone. Today is a new chance to reestablish that relationship with yourself, your loved ones, or a higher power. No matter where addiction has led you, you still belong in the decision to keep growing through the recovery process. Be patient with yourself and continue accepting that “something different.” Even just for today.
If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, call us for support at 949-625-4019.

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