Addiction is a word most of us associate with someone else.
It could be someone we love, someone we know, or someone we’ve seen.
I have personally watched people I love battle addiction. And I have had my own thoughts and beliefs as to why they are in the place they are in. It wasn’t until talking with Tim, that my thinking shifted. Instead of thinking it was the choices they’ve made that lead them to where they are today, I now have a new sense of clarity and understanding.
I realize it’s not as simple as choosing the wrong group of friends or walking down the wrong path, but that it starts before any choice is actually made.
It begins with trauma.
The trauma of what should have happened in their lives but didn’t or the things that shouldn’t have happened that did. Hearing Tim frame trauma in this way opened my eyes and helped me realize that every single one of us has experienced trauma. It’s the way we have learned to cope and what we reach for that separates us.
We all reach for something.
For some it could be their work. For some it’s food. For others it can be shopping, relationships, excessive exercise or a substance. And there are hundreds more. We all have them. We all reach for something that our brain has associated as a fix. As a way to escape or numb the pain, stress or trauma in our lives.
Today as I type this, we are all feeling an extra amount of each of these. We are stressed about our health, our finances and our future. We are feeling the pain of loss and disappointment and we are experiencing the trauma of a disruption to a way of life we once knew and a way of life we may never fully see again.
And we are all reaching for something.
Something our brain thinks will fix it. Something we’ve told ourselves will quiet the things running around in our heads and our hearts threatening our sense of peace and security.
When I asked Tim what it was that anyone battling addiction can do to start the path to recovery, he was quick to answer. Tim said, “you can start today by changing your behavior”. He talked about how the way to change your behavior is to disrupt your patterns. And the best way we can disrupt our patterns is by changing the rhythm of our days.
The next statement Tim shared will stick me long after this conversation. He said,
“Your behaviors become your habits, And your habits become your lifestyle.”
Isn’t that true? We all have behaviors that have snowballed and become our lifestyle, whether we’d like to admit it or not. Sure, some are more damaging than others, but what we can all agree on is, whatever the behavior is we reach for, it started somewhere and only once we’ve shifted our behaviors, can we begin to go back. To dig in and be open to the trauma that happened in our lives. And once we’ve discovered that, that is when the real change and recovery happens.
While there were gifts Tim gave me through our entire conversation one of the most important and tangible gifts he passed along is the gift of music. After dedicating his life to studying the ways music can play a role within our minds and bodies, Tim is now taking what he’s learned to help others who are battling addiction as well as stress, trauma, physical pain and so much more.
One of the many tools Tim talks about is one I would love for all of us to do today.
Tim talks about how listening to a playlist of three songs can alter the way we think. He says to choose three songs that pump you up, make you smile, and most importantly, make your body want to move. And make a playlist, and title it. Then keep it at the ready. When you find yourself in a place of unease, stress, pain, frustration turn it on and move. Walk to it. Let the rhythm move your body and watch what it will do.
The connection it takes to hear a beat and then match your body to it in an act as simple as walking has the power to alter our mindset. Tim has discovered, through his study of music therapy and experiencing how music has worked in his own life, that music has the power to heal and that is what he’s taking to the world.
After I finished my conversation with Tim, I found myself with a new sense of grace.
Grace for myself and grace for others.
But especially, grace for the people in our lives who are battling a substance addiction of their own. Tim said, “you can’t punish the pain out of them”. He then went on to say,
“Compassion is where the healing begins.”
My hope for us all is that we will begin to look inward and search for what it is we reach for. Because we cannot change a behavior if we are unwilling to admit we have one to begin with. Then after that, as we come across others who battle a substance addiction or other destructive behavior, my hope is that we will be slow to judge, that we will remember that we all have learned to cope with our pain and trauma differently and lastly, and most importantly, that we will extend grace and compassion.