The Relationship with Yourself vs. Relationship with a Higher Power.

You mentioned, “The ?relief? that the ?relationship with a source of relief? provides is from pain or frustration related to unmet emotional needs.” This is interesting to wrap my mind around because I know of a few people, including myself, who struggled in their relationships with a notion of a Higher Power or a God. They are recovering devout people. I say that partially joking, but many of us had a very dysfunctional relationship with God, and ultimately acted out in other addictions to numb that discomfort.

I think the ultimate relationship many people need to learn how to have is the one with themselves — and in learning to do that by way of program, treatment and counseling, all arrows point up to some invisible all mighty; some might find that an obstacle or Catch-22.

With a real nourishing relationship with another person or one’s self, we seem to be driven toward a level of intimacy we did not know before. One wise person I know said ‘intimacy’ meant: look “into me and see.” and intimacy requires a great deal of trust; and trust is not easily awarded or deserved for a lot of people. So, I find that people feel less-than, and often undeserving of intimacy where a partner can actually look into them and see them for who they are in the here and now … so they remain closed down in this area. For some people I know, this is where porn seems to come in; they see porn providing a whole lot less rejection when dealing with a picture or a movie. (But it recycles the pain because the pain is never dealt with or experienced).

I think you understand this all a great deal better than me (thankfully), and I agree that there are tremendous pent-up pains residing in a lot of us due to unmet emotional needs — and that for many of us, we numbed (or sought relief) from unemotional non-nourishing sources — and then we happened to get addicted to that stuff.

So, if a person has arrested their addiction today and has gravitated toward an intimate relationship with God and/or another human being, why will mere acknowledgment of a Relationship Model of Recovery help bring about trust, self-esteem (we deserve), or even respect in a relationship? Wouldn’t this Model of Recovery make relationships with anyone NOT in recovery at this level intensely impossible?

Response from Daniel….

I believe that there is a stage of recovery when recovering people must come to terms with some limitations and implications embedded in the 12-Step program and philosophy that pose challenges to their continued growth. At some point, the ?externalization? of the higher power comes back to haunt them ? the consensus that the higher power is the ultimate source or authority, and exists outside of oneself.

It seems, today more than ever, within the Anonymous constituency, an ever-increasing number people are expressing disenchantment or wonderment about their relationship with their higher power. The higher power, what is it? Many are feeling like they?re up against a wall, and are realizing, as you yourself had stated above, that their relationship with a higher power or the higher power has become dysfunctional, that they?re (still) emotionally starved, that take them back to the days of their addiction, and puts them at risk of relapse. Many are wondering why they?re left feeling bad about themselves for becoming addicted of being addicted, that there is something deeply wrong inside their core. Their higher power equates to losing touch with themselves, as if their selves have brought them nothing but destruction. They have learned to not take credit for anything and bestow the responsibility for everything good that happens to God. As a result, many are losing faith. This stage can be many years into recovery and any number of relapses later.

Something must have gotten lost along the way. In the earliest stages of recovery, some call abstinence or sustained abstinence, we realize that it was our will or lack of will that wrecked havoc on our lives?and that we are powerless, our lives unmanageable, and only a ?power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.? In the beginning of recovery, total surrender is both necessary and comforting, as it lightens the burden of shame and demoralization from having lost control and the many humiliating consequences. It?s blind faith that gets us out of the gate. Initially we stop blaming ourselves.

At what point can we begin to take some credit for what we had accomplished? At what point do we begin to focus on ourselves as a source and authority? When do our relationships take center stage? When will the relationship we have with ourselves be restored? When you say, ?I think the ultimate relationship many people need to learn how to have is the one with themselves — learning to do that by way of program, treatment and counseling, I thought it was me talking. It has been a basic premise or theme running through my work as I emphasize the primary relationship, i.e. the one we have with ourselves, as well, developing relationship-building skills. Yes, when all arrows point up to some invisible all mighty; many will find the prevailing interpretations and applications of the higher powers to be a Catch-22.

When one establishes or restores the relationship with oneself, intimacy becomes possible. The profound treatment implications of The Relationship Model of Addiction come from the premise upon which it is based; that intimacy is a basic human need, and when intimacy or understanding are achieved, emotional needs are actually getting met as opposed leaving one starved and desperate for relief, that they are life and self-sustaining.

There is something missing if recovery and one?s program serves to perpetuate the sense of isolation and disconnection. Intimate relationships and understanding and the process of co-creation are key missing ingredients. You seem to understand that before you have a relationship characterized by respect, trust, acceptance and deep knowing or understanding with someone else, we must first develop such a relationship with oneself. Before you can love someone else, you must love yourself.

You seem to see that the addictive potential of pornography comes from the temporary and artificial relief derived from the relationship that develops with an imaginary other. It?s only in fantasy to be in a relationship in which you will never be rejected or abandoned and the (imaginary) other is everything you wish him or her to be, until, of course, reality comes crashing down. Relating, let alone being truly intimate with another human being quickly becomes an unbearable, if not, impossible proposition. While the relationship with pornographic images may provide excitement and escape, in the end, the addict is left emptier and hungrier than ever.

Just thinking about The Relationship Model of Addiction doesn?t necessarily ?bring about trust, self-esteem and respect.? It doesn?t matter whether you think about the model or not, the idea is focus on yourself and the relationships you are creating. The idea is also to heighten your awareness of your hunger for connection, your longing for love, your hunger for intimacy. If that translates to you suddenly being able to create depth and rapport in your relationships, then see for yourselves, the difference between groveling for crumbs to survive and the replenishment that intimacy brings. I refer to the ?sacred space of co-creation? as when two separate, self-realized people come together, united in purpose, exploring and exposing themselves, enraptured in deep understanding. Intimacy as a life force is, in itself, life-sustaining, inspiring, the closest thing to a natural rush as you could get. But the relationship goes beyond the rush, beyond sexual excitement and attraction, beyond unmet emotional needs; the relationship is a swirling energy, a whole other entity, like fire igniting when a match strikes a flint. It?s food our beings need to thrive. Living with a sense of purpose is what The Relationship Model of Addiction is about, and your purpose becoming a more powerful force than your need for relief. Later stages of recovery are when you?re most likely to embark on that long journey home. The next relationship is the one that develops when you and ?the higher? come together.

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author Daniel Linder
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