Addiction: Desire For Connection?
September 27, 2016
"As I stand in the East, and the first rays of sunlight dance upon the horizon, I feel welcome. I feel connected. I feel like I belong."
The Journey is a rock musical I wrote about addiction and recovery. The stage production opens with the sun emerging above the horizon, gradually illuminating the silhouette of a lone figure standing with arms solemnly outstretched, reaching towards the sky. Narration refers to the sun's journey across the sky, likening this to the spiritual journey upon which this soul is about to embark.
The reference is to the Native American Medicine Wheel, a cyclical model that reflects the concept of the "circle of life." The Four Directions represent the four stages of a cycle: The sun rises in the East, the place of beginning. The day grows as the sun reaches a highest point before descending into darkness of the West and the day transitions into night. Finally, the day goes through a death as the sun disappears, only to return to the new beginning of East once again. The return to the East becomes a rebirth, or renewal.
This short little piece sets the stage for examining some pretty deep stuff when it comes to looking at where addiction fits with overall process of psycho-spiritual development.
"And the first rays of sunlight dance upon the horizon" refers to the magical moment that is the beginning of life. Original wholeness—the infant in the womb. A blissful experience with all needs met. As the narration suggests, the feeling is one of connection. But the narration also suggests things might not stay this way:
"Yet I know I will be leaving this place as it is time for my journey to begin."
Loss of original connection is a theme that has been portrayed in stories and metaphors since the beginning of time. Heroes leave the Kingdom to face challenges—they lose their connection to the King. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, losing their connection to God. As a story about addiction and recovery, The Journey demonstrates how this loss of connection makes us vulnerable to falling into patterns of self-defeating behaviors in our attempt to "return to this place" and reclaim our original spiritual connection.
Addiction creates a deceptive dynamic that appears to meet needs relative to this desire for feeling whole and connected. Yet, as we hear at a later point in the program: "I thought I was trying to find myself. Looking back now, I see, that's where I began to lose myself." Misguided attempts to seek fulfillment become self-defeating behaviors that lead to further loss of self. Most addicts will acknowledge they were searching for something. The problem is, we don't know what we're searching for! It's not uncommon to hear people who have achieved "recovery" describe a renewed feeling of wholeness and fulfillment, and—perhaps most importantly—they find this within themselves as opposed to relying on something outside of themselves to provide their good feelings.
The journey to wholeness is one that comes full-circle: the Hero returns to the Kingdom and is transformed. The Sun returns to the East and brings a new day. This is every person's story. We return the the place where our journey began, and reclaim our original connection.
"The Journey" is the musical component of "The Journey To Recovery Program", a multi-media substance abuse treatment curriculum for adolescents and adults.