Has Your Wound Become an Addiction?

After my last post Write a New Story—in which I encouraged you to begin viewing your past wounds as the raw material for a new life story—I did a live video talking about how our wounds are portals or doorways to other more expansive and life-affirming experiences.

A listener provided some powerful feedback that I wanted to share with you:

I really liked what you pointed about how there is always community and support for our wounds if we choose to get stuck there. I believe it can become almost like an addiction. Moving away from community support forces us to hold ourselves accountable for our own healing. And that is SO scary. Which is probably why we get stuck in our stories. Your words are the gentle push I needed to acknowledge the ways in which I am fused to my wounds. I am going to do the work to be free and write a new story. Thank you.

You are so welcome! I love the courage of this listener — acknowledging that in some ways she is fused to her wounds and committing to write a new story.

I also want to zero in for a moment on what I see as the seven most powerful words this listener offered:

If we choose to get stuck there.

Getting stuck in our wounds is tempting, and it is a choice.

The sad truth is that our wounds can become so much a part of our identity that they are like an obsession—even an addiction. If they become the primary focus of our lives, we may feel as though we don’t have a choice.

If you think, “Well, it’s not my fault I have to deal with this. I don’t have a choice about what happened to me,” you are only partially right. You may not have had power over what happened to you in the past, but you have complete power about how you respond and how you move forward, starting today.

Yet when it comes to changing the nature of our relationship with our wounds, the how can feel confusing or daunting. If you want to cure yourself of your wound addiction and stop identifying with what’s happened to you—if you want to write a new story—there are concrete steps you can take.

In my next post I will share those steps with you. In the meantime, I invite you to reflect on this question: “How might my wound(s) be the raw material for the life I want to create?”

 

© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)

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  1. Cecelia says

    Hi Vicki; thanks for this topic. I am 11 months out from the discovery of a pattern of major, life-shattering betrayal in a 43 year marriage, and am still deep in the weeds and deeply afraid that I will never really recover from this. I know it’s still pretty new, and I have moments of strength and balance, but I spend a lot of time in despair and paralysis. My only hope is that at some point I’ll be able to rise above this and not let it identify me for the rest of my life. I know I have a tendency to play the victim, blame and wallow at times, but I want to develop some grace so that there’s some redeeming quality to all this pain. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading more about not allowing this wound, that I really feel like I might not survive, to become an addiction. Thank you for the work you do.

  2. THI says

    Vicki, this is such a powerful question to pose, about how our wounds might be the “raw material” for the life we want to create. As a cancer survivor and a betrayed partner, I see the narrative more as scars than wounds. The scars from the cancer they cut away on my body are visible but they don’t define who I am as a person; it’s the experience of having lived through a life-threatening disease that has shaped me as a person to appreciate my life fully–being humble to what I can and cannot control and appreciating small joys, small achievements and knowing the limits of my internal and external truths. The physical scars will never disappear. Being betrayed feels very similar. It is a scar that will never leave my body, however, it’s how I choose to navigate this traumatic experience that will define who I am as a person. I could have stayed angry when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I chose to live my life not letting the cancer defeat me. I have chosen to not let the betrayal defeat me either. I have so much to give the world, my community, my family and my children that I can’t let the actions of someone else define the life I want to lead. It may not be the choices that I imagined when I stated my vows 26 years ago, but I have choices about how I will embrace my experiences going forward to shape the life I plan to live.

  3. Laura L says

    Thank you Vicki for this article. It is timely. Today is 2 years after D-day and I’m still stuck on feeling like I don’t fully know what happened and not feeling safe. I really relate to it becoming an obsession and part of my identity. Recovering from betrayal trauma is the worst and best thing I’ve been through in my life.

  4. Jerrie-Anne Chauvin says

    Vicki,

    For years I have struggled with the after affect of being raped by my first love, I was 17. This event destroyed the person I was, or was becoming.

    For years I have been grieving for the loss of that life. I began acting out sexually, drinking and suffered serious depression through out my life. I am 51 years old and still affected by this trauma.

    Every time I feel like I am making progress I find another piece that is broken. That is how I have been surviving, not living but surviving. I had incredible grief for the life I felt I lost. I couldn’t/didn’t appreciate the life I have.

    My therapist had me write a letter to that broken young girl I was after the rape. To forgive the coping mechanisms I used at the time, sex, alcohol and self-injury. To recognize that I didn’t know better and I did the best I could at the time.

    After reading your blog about Rewriting Your Stoury and Your wound becoming and addiction. I went back and reread the letter I wrote to my younger self. I was struck by the fact that I have constantly been trying to get that life back, to move back to a time when I did not feel broken. I realized that this is impossible. Quite simply that person I was before the trauma no longer exists.
    That in doing this I have failed to recognize and enjoy the life I have, to celebrate my success.
    In my mind I see myself as a seed that was released after a devastating forest fire. Over time I have grown in to a majestic tree. But I have been unable to recognize my beauty as I was still grieving the forest that was lost. That the ash in the soil helped me to be strong and grow from that loss.
    Your blog about rewriting your story and becoming addicted to your wounds helped me to see this.

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The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.”

Rainer Maria Rilke