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Crutches, Attachment and Addiction

I find it so fascinating how many people don’t ever want to talk about their crutches and attachments. Instead, we only call them out when they reach addiction status, when we are judging others for theirs or when we are forced to look at them due to their severity or impact on our lives.

In fact, we don’t even acknowledge that an addiction and an “every day crutch” are the same but are just sitting at different ends of a spectrum.

Ironically, my experience has been that this lack of acknowledgement is especially common in spiritual communities. I wonder if this could be tied into the whole issue of lightworkers loudly denying their shadow parts…. Hmmm….

Hah, it makes me laugh just thinking about it!

Crutches and attachments are part of our human-ness and we should be ashamed to deny them! We need them to help us get through certain periods and situations in our lives. They are truly gifts and I am grateful for mine every day. We all have them and there is certainly no need to pretend that we don’t. Even more, its crazy to pretend that we have somehow managed to heal or release them all.

I am sorry to say, but I don’t think we would still be here if released all of our attachments!

So, why do we constantly try to deny our human-ness? Why are we so judgmental when it comes to addiction and attachment? Again, I feel it comes back to our shadow. If we refuse to look at those things we are attached to, we can move forward without having to face that deeper part of ourselves that we are avoiding with the attachment. We can skip over our general discontent over our lives. Over how society is run. Our insecurity. We don’t have to address the presence of toxic ego or control in our work and social constructs.

Personally, I am all about embracing crutches and attachments. Every person who has worked with me already knows this. I have my human moments, my crutches and my attachments and I love to use personal stories to share about the healing process. As well as the endless layers that are present in those processes. If I didn’t, or if I hadn’t worked through several of those layers already, how on earth would I be able to relate to the rest of the humans that come through my door? How could I possibly feel authentic to them?

So, we can talk about a crutch or attachment all day, but when it comes down to it, do we really have control over such things? Do we decide when we are done with smoking, alcohol or our shopping addiction? Or do they just disappear when we reach the layer of our shadow that is holding on to the behavior?

I am going to argue that it’s both, but really it’s just the latter.

I will lead this discussion with an example: Let’s say you want to release your attachment to food. Food, like most crutches or addictions, is a substance that we get attached to when we are having a hard time feeling or processing emotions. It helps us cope so that we can move forward in life without being overwhelmed with the emotion we are coping with. I’ll be honest about this, some variation of food attachment or eating disorder exists in 95% of the people I have ever met. In my opinion, it’s the most common crutch, but it appears in so many different ways that I could not possibly cover them all. Signs of an unhealthy relationship with food can appear as binging, withholding, fixating, attaching to labels such as veganism, cyclical behavior, emotional eating, food allergies, etc.

But really, this conversation can be had about ANY substance or emotional attachment. I use food attachment as an example because I know it well.

We use food and eating to connect, to avoid feelings, to invoke feelings to counter other feelings (like feeling good to balance out feeling bad) and to dissociate. The key to “overcoming” the need for this crutch isn’t to just put it down and avoid it. It isn’t to go on a fad diet, fasting protocol, create stories around it or some other form of cyclical behavior. You can only “overcome” attachment to food through gently noticing and paying attention to the emotions around food, stories about food and things that involve food. Sometimes there are beliefs that go back to a hunger you had as an infant when you were neglected. Sometimes it reminds you of your father’s presence before he became an addict. Or maybe dinner was the only time your parents got along. Maybe you overeat to provide yourself with a protective layer from your perceived threat of being violated. Or you tell people you are vegan because it unconsciously makes you feel superior. In reality, it probably includes these things and 100 more. Each residing in a layer that won’t be released until you are ready to feel and process wherever it came from.

Then, when we get to the bottom of the emotions and layers, we easily and gracefully release the attachment to it.

When it comes to attachment to anything, there is no overcoming or overpowering. There is no need to struggle. And there is certainly no need to beat yourself up because you have an attachment or addiction to anything. If you didn’t have that coping mechanism, you might not be here today. Just remember, you will let it go when you are ready to process ALL that remains beneath it, and only then will it go.

For me, I will share that I began a journey to heal my eating disorder almost five years ago. Through this process, I have found many layers of trauma, nostalgia, attachment, protection, punishment and self defeating core beliefs that surround this behavior. It has involved coaching, medicine work, doctor visits, bodywork, yoga, daily journaling, personal training, Ceremony and other rituals to look at what is coming up around it. Even to this day, I still have aspects I am uncovering and working with on a regular basis. Some behaviors have been released and others remain obscured because I am not yet ready to see them. It is a crazy awesome and beautiful process.

But guys, 5 years is a long ass time. lol. How many attachments and crutches do we have that we aren’t even aware of, never mind the ones that we are?

My point is this. Be gentle with yourself and remember your human-ness. Do your best to embrace all the things you are using as crutches and be willing to go deep in your exploration of why they exist in your life instead of actively denying them. Be willing to feel the feelings you are running from, even if it’s only 1 out of every 10 times you reach for that crutch. It’s worth it, I promise.


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