Addictions, Cravings, Compulsions and NVC

In September 2018, our local nonprofit, NVC Nashville, will host Sarah Peyton for a 2 day workshop called Addictions, Cravings, and Choiceless Behaviors,  A Workshop For Those Who Suffer And For Those Who Love Them.
Sarah, a certified trainer with the Center For Nonviolent Communication, and a notable researcher of Interpersonal Neurobiology, IPNB, has combined the two learnings in her life work. Her offerings to the public are profound and in my experience, life changing.

Because my family has been deeply impacted by the helpless hopelessness of addiction, Sarah's work has been important toward keeping a clear head and open heart with those I love whose powerless choices in the life of addiction have been, in my opinion, self destructive. In my own journey of recovery, keeping my heart open to myself through the dedicated and repetitive practice of self compassion and developing a resonant self witness, has afforded me a new way of being with the painful suffering of addiction.

Quite a few years ago, during a particularly stressful and uncertain time in my life, I found the 17 Core Commitments, developed by sisters Miki and Inbal Kashtan, useful in how I chose to make an excruciatingly difficult decision. The decision concerning a request from our loved one heavily in the cycle of addiction presented a pressing adverse affect in my marriage. As a mother, I experienced being trapped between the love for my adult child and respect for my husband. The commitment I began using as a mantra was number 7 on the list of 17 core commitments found through BayNVC: 
It reads:
7. Loving No Matter What
Even when my needs are seriously unmet, I want to keep my heart open. If I find myself generating judgments, angry, or otherwise triggered, I want to seek support in transforming my judgments and meeting others with love.
The alienation of our loved one by almost all of the original family structure due to the debilitating course of addiction, has been another painful symptom of addiction to inhabit. It’s been through NVC that I’ve learned how to stay connected to our family member(s) in the process and progress of addiction and seemingly choiceless behaviors.  I’ve learned how to support my own helplessness while also being aware of loving, holding compassion, and keeping my heart open to each of us through the journey of harmful things said and done. When (notice it's when and not if!) harsh words were shared, practicing self compassion opened my heart to myself allowing space in me for me. Anytime this shift occurs, I'm available to offer compassion to others. It's through this shift of energy repairs can be made in restoring relationships.

By learning to translate what I hear in those heightened stressful moments of suffering and anger, I’ve been able to stay in authentic, clear, and loving communication with this person and others in our family. In Sarah’s book, Your Resonant Self, she writes: 

Healing from addictions is not simple. It’s doable, but it asks a lot of people. It asks them to become truly alive. Addictions allow people to hide from and survive vast landscapes of pain. More than anything else, people need compassion, persistence, an understanding of the after-effects of trauma, and sources of resonant empathy outside of the self to allow them to heal and put in place brain pathways for self connection.”

Most often when I offer a workshop, such as one recently entitled Simplifying Challenging Conversations, I sense those attending are waiting to hear the bottom line! "Just tell me how to do it and tell me in a paragraph so I can do it too" is the motivation for attending many of my workshops! In our western enculturation and conditioning, we want fast answers to slow problems! As I’ve learned through the life of addiction, I share with people that in my experience, there is no short answer. The answer begins internally; to first be available, open, and willing to develop a practice for myself where my inner life is examined, through my thoughts, excavating my feelings, and the values important to me in the situation. The more intimate and compassionate I become with what goes on inside of me, the greater the likelihood it can be manifested outside of me toward enriching the lives of all concerned. There is no short answer. 

Sarah’s opinion that healing from addiction takes a lot of people has been true for our family through this journey. I believe that whether the healing calls for many or a few, those who choose a committed practice of self awareness, a willingness to develop and exercise their compassionate nature, and skills to meet ones self at every turn of every painful emotion, carve a path through the murkiness of addiction for each person in the situation. As Ram Dass is quoted to have said, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

I invite you to attend the September 22-23 workshop in Nashville. You may register here:

If finances are an obstacle, please see the contact on the flyer found on our website.
And, if registration isn't possible for you at this time, I highly recommend purchasing Sarah's book, Your Resonant Self. I’m confident you will find, as I have, the valuable resource of developing the skill to find our way back to love and compassion in the life of our addictions, cravings, and choiceless behaviors. Yes, it takes a lot of work and Yes! it’s overwhelmingly worth it! 

Today, after many years, my son is sober from a painful chemical substance. Together, we celebrate the clarity he enjoys one day at a time. The connection we enjoy has been a journey of ‘staying in’ relationship amidst the hopelessness and helplessness we’ve bothendured.  Nonviolent Communication has given me the internal awakening of awareness and the communication tools of how to do just that.

FYI: Yes, I did ask my son if I could reveal him on my blog:) Through a smile, I heard him say, "Of Course Mom!"