When an Addict’s Confession Goes Bad

 

 

tear-stained-faceToday’s guest post comes from friend and fellow writer Lori Lara.

When I was in my late teens, in a rare moment of vulnerability, I confided in an older Christian woman about my struggle with an eating disorder. My healthy, athletic body had turned rail-thin. Exhaustion and aching, atrophying muscles took over. Baggy clothes no longer hid my private efforts of controlling food, and I could feel everyone’s eyes scanning me top to bottom, measuring how sick I was. I hated feeling exposed like that. I was out of control and my life was in danger.

But I had no clue how to stop my addiction. Good Lord….He knows I tried.

Having been an extremely private person, my confession was no small feat. I was embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted with myself for not being able to be “normal.” Just eat. And don’t throw up. How hard can that be, right? You might as well have told me to live under water. It was that impossible to do.

So there I stood with my jugular exposed to this woman, admitting my secrets in a Hail Mary attempt to get help. Addiction had whittled my worth down to nothing. My self-loathing held the knife to my neck, getting a head start on the slicing.

Unfortunately, death spoke to me that day. I squirm with knots in my stomach every time I remember her words.

“It’s a sin,” She said in a flat, as-a-matter-of-biblical-fact tone. “You’re living in sin.”

I stared blankly. It’s a sin. That’s it? That’s all you can say? That’s your summary of me alternating between starving myself and throwing up every bite of food? That’s all you have to say about me standing here in front of you exposed with the burden so heavy I can’t bear it any longer? Jesus, I’m barely over 95 pounds and I can’t stop this freight train. Really? It’s a sin. Just cold, hard sin? If God had appeared in the flesh and slapped me across the face, it wouldn’t have wounded me more. That woman unknowingly buried me that day. She closed tomb of secrecy on me, leaving shame to devour me in my private hell. I felt nothing but pure humiliation and completely severed from God.

It would be another ten years before I’d trust another soul with my battle; and another fifteen years of addiction, losing a tiny bit of myself each day, before I received the healing that saved me.

Because most addicts suffer from depression and severe anxiety, confession is painful and scary. We expect rejection. We know judgment is coming. Yet the most tender, wounded parts of our hearts yearn for understanding and a soft place to fall. So when our vulnerability falls on the hard stone of someone’s icy judgment, it can feel like a death. The death of the hope of getting well.

Through my botched confession (and the subsequent ones that ushered healing), I learned there is no short cut around vulnerability; it is paramount in an addict’s life. No matter the addiction (food, porn, work, alcohol, sex, drugs, fill-in-the-blank); if people want to get well, they must share their most vulnerable moment of truth. It is sacred. It is holy. And if we’re privileged to sit across from someone who’s confessing the darkness, we need to handle that precious, brave soul with the utmost care, respect, and love.

Because Love is what heals, not judgment.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21

LoriLaraLori Lara is a writer, blogger, trauma survivor, and black belt martial artist. She’s passionate about sharing the hope and healing of Jesus through her raw journey as a mom and wife recovering from PTSD, depression, and addiction. Lori is a contributing author for Hope in the Mourning (Zondervan 2013) and The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide (Chicken Soup for the Soul 2014). She’s a guest writer for MOPS International and numerous recovery blogs and websites. Lori lives in Northern California with her husband Robert and two sons. You can find her blog at www.lorilara.com. Email: Lori@lorilaraphotography.com.

Love Letters from the Edge: Hope for the Hopeless

LoveLettersCoverFour years ago, forty-eight year-old Wanda Sanchez was clinging to a life without hope. Every day was a struggle to stay alive. She’d planned her suicide and had every intent to carry out her plan.

For decades she’d struggled with nightmares, flashbacks, addiction, self-abuse, compulsions, and other behaviors she simply couldn’t control.

Rehab was a failure.

Eating disorder clinics were a failure.

Counseling and therapy produced little change.

Year after year, her symptoms grew worse, and her prayers to be healed seemed to go unanswered.

Like most people, Wanda spent years treating symptoms, rather than treating her actual trauma.

The results? Imagine taking pain killers for your brain tumor. The pain might subside–for a time. But the tumor itself only continues to grow and the symptoms worsen. Wanda’s root problem–her trauma–was childhood abuse. repeated and horrific childhood abuse. But she didn’t know about trauma and PTSD. So she tried to relieve the symptoms–addictions, self-abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorders, nightmares, and flashbacks.

Like most people who experience trauma, Wanda struggled with guilt, abandonment, rage, despair, and other self-sabotaging emotions.

She felt ruined, unlovable, and was sure she was the only truly unfixable person in the world.

Until she went for ten days of out-patient trauma treatment that treated the root cause of her symptoms and changed her life forever.

Since leaving Intensive Trauma Therapy in 2011, Wanda and I (Shelly Beach) have dedicated ourselves to sharing our stories of hope and healing from post-traumatic stress disorder. We have both found life-altering healing from trauma symptoms that radically changed our lives. Wanda’s improvement was so profound that in the months following her treatment, therapists and organizations began to ask her to share her story. Our passion grew for helping people gain a practical understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and pointing them to resources for hope and healing.

Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life is our first book together. It is an inspirational book of meditations for people longing to find hope and resources and who will benefit from a foundational understanding of PTSD.

Love Letters from the Edge will encourage those who’ve experienced suffering and who long to sense God’s presence and comfort.

Love Letters from the Edge has been endorsed by counselors and therapists, the directors of mental health centers and mission organizations (Wedgwood Christian Service, Dégagé Ministries, Music for the Soul, Hearts at Home, as well as media personalities and celebrities like Nancy Stafford and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Love Letters from the Edge may not be written for you. But it will touch the heart of someone you know who has experienced deep suffering in life and offer them hope, as well as practical tools for healing.

Who do you know who’s standing on the edge? Who do you know that needs to know they’re not alone?

New Trauma Blog Launched

This week several friends and I launched a new blog on the topic of trauma at http://ptsdtraumahopehealing.com/. Over the past two years, I’ve become increasingly interested in the topic of trauma, and I’ve been privileged to get to know some of the best trauma therapists in the world and see the results of their work in the lives of my closest friends.

And every day as I watch the news. read Facebook posts, talk to growing numbers of hurting friends and relatives, and listen to the sounds of emergency vehicles racing past my window, my sense of urgency grows.

An epidemic of untreated trauma has gripped our nation. We busy ourselves treating its symptoms–addictions, eating disorders, self-abusive behaviors, compulsions, etc. and entertain ourselves watching people on television struggle through the symptoms in endless cycles: Hoarders, Intervention, Biggest Loser, Celebrity Rehab, and numerous other shows.

But we seldom treat the root cause: trauma.

I invite you to join me and my friends (the Trauma Queens) and share your trauma story. Many of us have found hope and healing through effective treatments.

Some of us have walked through lifetimes of frustration seeking help for the wrong thing first in treatment centers and counseling that address peripheral issues. And many of us have been shamed for not “getting over” our trauma sooner and seeking treatment.

We’ve developed relationships with some of the nation’s top trauma experts. We’re making connections with organizations involved in human trafficking. Next week my associate and I will be speaking at a nationally-recognized agency that is launching an initiative for children who have been trafficked.

We invite you to become part of the community of hope on Facebook as well at PTSD Trauma Hope and Healing (https://www.facebook.com/PtsdTraumaHopeAndHealing).

If you know someone who’s experienced a crisis where their life was threatened or someone they loved was threatened and they struggle with symptoms of PTSD, please tell them there IS hope.

If you know someone whose baby underwent invasive medical procedures as an infant before 1986 and now struggles with symptoms of PTSD, please tell them about our blog. The medical community did not believe that babies experienced pain before the mid- to late 1980s and often did surgery on infants without painkillers or anesthesia. Many of those children today suffer with symptoms of PTSD and are unaware of its relationships to their childhood trauma and, more importantly, that effective treatment is available.

Few things areImage as exciting as seeing someone without hope find it again. Those who struggle in cycles of addiction, self-abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other behaviors often live without hope.

The truth can set you free.