The Hero’s Journey of Addiction and Codependency Recovery
We are all on our hero’s journey. All of us. No matter what we are doing, or not doing-what we have done, or not done. Whether we are conscious or unconscious, awake, waking up or still in a deep slumber, we are all on a hero’s journey. The choice is whether we choose to live a reactive life by default or whether we begin to become conscious about how we live; our thoughts, actions and even what feelings we chose to indulge-or not. The choice is whether we continue to play out old predictable roles and scripts, feeling the same old feelings, having the same old thoughts and creating the same old scenarios again and again.
The time has come for us to wake up from the ingrained Newtonian materialistic version of our reality that we are somehow separate from the creator and that our existence and day to day life experiences are the result of forces outside ourselves. We must let go of the belief that we are helpless victims to the external world and that this external world is somehow more real than our internal world.
If we do not make this leap and embrace this new “quantum” view, then we will remain trapped in a disempowering paradigm of victim consciousness. When we perceive our life and reality from this state of consciousness, then no amount of healing can offer freedom from our addictions or codependency.
Often, making the choice to move out victim consciousness is more difficult than it seems. Feeling a victim or a martyr to a disease, diagnosis, a state of mind or feeling, may be safer and more comfortable for some than to take the necessary steps to recover from a disease or be diagnosis free. To release our identification with our disease means swimming in uncharted territories that may lead us to new experiences and a new reality. We often chose misery because it is familiar and we are used to it, rather than surrendering ourselves to the unknown which can be very uncomfortable.
Yet, don’t we all love the hero journey’s where the hero goes off on grand adventures to exotic unknown places, faces obstacles and pleasures never before experienced? The hero discovers that who he thought he was is no longer true and who he is becoming evolves and grows with each new moment. We love the hero who faces unbelievable pain and suffering and rather than having it take her down, or wallowing or glorifying in it, she transcends the experience. Like the alchemist, she is able to transmute her suffering into great wisdom; she finds the gifts in her challenges which she then brings back to the world to be of service. She crosses that finish line even though the odds were against her. She discovers strengths that she never knew she had. These are the stories we love, and yet are the stories we so resist in ourselves.
We had a guest a few years ago who was from the East Coast. He took care of his parents so he did not get out of the house often, much less travel. Alcohol and codependency were the only ways he knew to live in this limiting reality and like many, these coping mechanisms stopped working and eventually he experienced nothing but despair and hopelessness. He made the decision to drive cross country to Arizona and spend a month at The Sanctuary.
His road trip to The Sanctuary ended by driving 2 miles down a winding forest access dirt road, completely isolated and surrounded by the high desert national forest land. He also came at the time of the year that a local cattle rancher had his herd of cattle out on the National Forest Service land to graze. There were hundreds of cows on the land and many were in the road leading to The Sanctuary. It took our guest almost 45 minutes just to make it down this 2 mile road. You can imagine the state he was in when he finally arrived at The Sanctuary doorstep! He was disgruntled, discouraged and wanted a drink. He was also worried about his ailing mother and certainly did not feel like a “hero” on a hero’s journey. Instead, he felt like a victim to another overwhelming life situation.
After a week at The Sanctuary he began to remember his trip very differently. Without being consciously aware of it, his perception of his own journey was beginning to shift. Over dinner he told a new arrival about his road trip. He told the new guest that he had courageously stood up to his mother and told her that he was going to the wild-west to get some help, even though he knew she would not be supportive or understand. And, he continued, that when he got to The Sanctuary he had to navigate down a dirt road, without 4 wheel drive, and face the wild animals that were in his way!
Our guest, usually quiet and introverted, had become the storyteller of his own epic hero’s journey. He understood that the literal world version of his experience driving cross county was so much more than a middle-aged alcoholic, codependent man off to some addiction recovery center. Instead, his journey was of a man who broke free of his comfort zone and who had the courage to take a risk. His life shifted from the mundane, diseased and ordinary, to the mythic and extraordinary.