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Hi, I’m Alice and I live with an addict. Or she lives with me. Depending on the day and how you want to look at it. Essentially, I live with what I call, my inner addict or disease, an adapted part of me who kept me safe for a long time but then, like so many unsuspecting addicts, turned on me and now she wants me dead. No pressure. Too much? Well, it is at times, so I bake in some comedy chasers and deflective dark humour to keep it palatable. My disease has delivered over the decades in diverse disguises, names and aliases. What’s it like living with an addict? Not unlike having a sociopathic roommate with hand-grenades under the bed, waiting for an unexpecting moment to blow shit up. That’s what she does. Why? Because she can. She’s highly evolved with me, she speaks to me in my own voice and language and seduces me into a false sense of security and then she side blinds me, particularly when life is good. Welcome, to living with addiction. 

I’ve diversified my addiction portfolio over the decades but my primary go tos for self-destruction have been eating disorders, drug and spending addictions with an undercurrent of anxiety and mood disorders. It’s never boring. Quick disclaimer: I will at deflect with humour at times. I own this defence mechanism of choice as it’s kept me alive and sane and made things bearable along the razor’s edge of spiritual salvation essential for me to find freedom from my disease. The poignant predicament I’ve found of the human experience is an almost equal and opposite tension of the opposites, as Carl Jung would say, between the comedic and tragic truth to life. I refresh my mind with death each day; a Samurai principle I stand by. Equally, if I laugh that day, it’s a day worth living. I live and die by these mantras. Not to be heavy, just keeping it real.

You may be curious – what kind of addict am I? The exception report would be shorter, but let’s run through the exec summary: I was off to a running start as a young girl with much later diagnosed anxiety and anorexia and then I segued into drug and alcohol addiction in my early teens, by my early 20’s, I’d had two major overdoses in two languages, before landing in Australia in my early 30’s with eye watering credit card with a drug fuelled hangover praying for universal guidance because I was, in a nutshell, exceptionally fucked.

I was not planning on being a high performing addict. Noone chooses to be an addict. Anyone whose grappled with the depths of destruction that come with decades of addictive eating, exercising, drugging, performing, risk taking or crippling compulsion will know, we don’t plan to tear things down. It’s a high risk that comes with the disease of addiction. Delusion and denial are part of the package. Addiction is a complex creature and intrinsically linked with trauma. The complexities of addiction, what seeds it, drives it and treats it are all very hotly debated. There are countless camps, approaches and treatments applied to addiction. The success rates are staggeringly low. I’m not here to debate any of that. I will highlight that there’s a lot to be said for the power of a loving, caring and connected community. Connecting through open, honest and high trust conversations about my addictions and recovery has kept me alive. Without this life saving and changing community, I would not be here not would I have found freedom, or daily reprieve, from my disease, defence mechanisms and denial. It’s a spiritual program for living. A surrendered life. It’s been inspired by the ancient wisdom through the ages.

Whatever lifeforce language works; universal source, spirit, chi, The Tao, the way, or as my Aikido sensei would say ‘flow’ of the universe. He’d say, “Arisu, the moment you resist the direction of the universe, you lose. The moment you push against what is happening, you have lost.” Boom. Drop the mic. Millenia of eastern principles and practices underpin a simple life of living in flow with universal guidance, loving intention and surrender.

Carl Jung made a call upon seeing Roland, a chronic alcoholic, that medical science could do nothing for him – in a nutshell – needed a spiritual awakening. Carl Jung nailed it. Jung was a heavy hitter when it came to understanding the human psyche and our social and spiritual needs for unity. He got what many others did or do not get, accept or address. Feeling connected to a shared community and evolving through collective consciousness is an evolutionary need. It is for me, anyway. It’s controversial to call it, I appreciate that, particularly being an integrated practicioner and therapist, but spiritual solution and community connection has helped me recover from addictions like nothing else.

There is a deeply humbling, healing and transformative power of connecting with likeminded community through stories, solutions and shared experience. I’m taking a real, raw and head on approach to robust recovery conversations here at Wonderland! It’s a safe, judgement free space where we share open, honest and often humourous stories, solutions and experiences, to strip away the stigma, shame and secrecy that comes with living addictions because we can’t do it alone.  

Back to my addict roomie. She’s clever, you see, she’s earned a degree with me, learned Japanese and we’ve been to rehab together – three times, now. She speaks in my voice with all the right language. She’s been well trained, versed and rehearsed. She’s a master sabateour and she loves a dramatic exit. She’s sits at the high stakes table every day and looks me dead in the eye without flinching and says, “Roll the damn dice.” She’s pretty gangster. She’s intense.

How do I navigate the perilous waters of living with this deadly disease day to day? One of my guiding principles came from a live saving moment with an addictions specialist 20 years ago; “The minute you start lying to yourself with this disease, Alice, you’re dead in the water.” He made an imprint on my psyche forever. He made it crystal clear that if I wanted to stay alive I needed to be honest with myself first and foremost Why? Because addiction thrives in the darkness of denial and delusion. I can easily lie to myself with this disease. Part of it is to forget you have a disease.

He hit this truth home hard. “This disease only drives in one direction – and that’s straight into the ground and six feet under – and it’s taking you with it.” Intense pause. “Do you want to get off now or later?” I sat there in shock at his brutal honesty. I was a mix of angry and amused. He was sounding very life and death-y. Surely, my addict said to me, he’s being over dramatic?  

Decades of addictions and a very non linear recovery remind me that this home truth of Dr J’s still runs true today and keeps me safe, sane and sober. The best thing I can do every day is check in with myself and another trusted tribe member to ensure that I’m being honest about how I’m feeling, thinking and living. Dr J would say that addiction thrives in the dark and it can’t survive if you shine light on it.” Those words have saved my life.

I have a high trust triage in my life which includes a professional, a chosen family member and a friend, who I share honestly with each day, to keep my thinking and disease in check and to stayed anchored to my own truth, purpose and priorities. I have this trusted team in place and I stay tapped into my source of truth and intuition to trust, relax and let go knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers today. It’s OK. It’s enough to stay centred in boat, eyes on the horizons, staying balanced  in safe habours while staying connected to my crew of community.

Speaking of great crew, we’ll be sharing more candid conversations about living with addictions and recovery from experts and those with lived experience over the comings weeks as part of our Wonderland Podcast Series in the spirit of saving lives. You are not alone. There is help. There are options.

Stay connected and reach out – more podcasts, support resources and information coming to you soon!

Love Alice x