LOVE MONTH: DAY 6: “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”― Fred Rogers
I have met thousands of addicts, literally, thousands, in treatment settings. Their ability to feel anything is so numbed by the time they get to treatment. Isn’t that the truth for all of us?
The immaturity of coping with life using alcohol and drugs and living in pure Ego states of no real development in the realms of spiritual, emotional, or mental tells us some interesting stories. Stories about who we are and what we are doing in the world. Ask any of these people coming into a place of addressing themselves without alcohol and drugs who they are and how they feel is sad but rather comical. I have handed out reams of paper with feelings listed on them. How can it be possible for someone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s to not know how they feel? Easy…stay drunk and loaded.
Deny yourself any emotional attachment other than those immature attachments we see in this crowd. They are emotionally developed to the age of 6 or 7. Many believe they stopped developing when they began using drugs or drinking. That is seldom the case. It is much earlier than that.
Which explains the phenomenon that most addicts share: about the complete “ease and comfort” of imbibing their first drugs or alcohol. It gave them a sense of comfort nothing else could or did. That is because they were that uncomfortable in life already. By 8 or 10 or 12, those were the best coping mechanisms they were going to have for a very long time.
So, they never developed mature coping mechanisms, even for that age. Terrifying how stunted the growth and emotional development of addicts truly is. And SO many never go beyond even that! It is not about abstinence from substances, but the growing up that needs to happen for us in this recovery process. Not many do it. They are still dependent on attachments that are very, very immature. And that, my friends, is a serious disability. We all know this thing is a disease. It is a mental and emotional illness, according to the diagnostic codes used by mental health professionals. While it creates physical symptoms and can cause horrific diseases that have other diagnostic criteria, it is, first and foremost, a mental and emotional illness. And what Mr. Rogers talks about here are the symptoms of a crippling disability that makes social and emotional retardation real for millions of people. We all know the treatment, but few are going to practice it. How sad!