Amy Winehouse skyrocketed to the top of the music charts in her early 20's. Most well known for her song"Rehab", Amy professed her resistance to treatment. She said, "no, no, no". Amy was rebellious. She was 'very good at being bad'. Defying conventional style and standards, she fashioned herself in 50's feminine attire and tattooed herself with eyebrow raising images. She dated a 'bad boy' and brazenly colored tales of sex and drugs, while singing "You Know I'm No Good". Amy had reality issues. Obscured by distortions of self-image, she could not see her own value and worth. Amy did not know that she was "good enough".
Distortions of reality plague those affected by addiction. Living in reality is recognition of one's own worth and value. It is acceptance that the self is inherently and forgivingly prone to human frailty. The self is neither perfect or broken, it is perfectly imperfect. Those living in active addiction struggle to see the perfectly imperfect self shadowed by rebellious behavior.
However, upon pressed to recollect the self as an infant, the lenses of reality become clear. Few will debate the worth, value and perfect imperfection of a baby.
At The Meadows, we see many women and men who have become detached from their reality. They see themselves as "bad" and often live up to their distortions of reality. Having lost touch with their inherent worth and value they become very good at being bad. In truth, nothing changed about the perfectly imperfect child who grew into a rebellious adult. What shifted was merely the perception of "self". Trauma, be it physical, spiritual, sexual, emotional or intellectual, led to cognitive distortions ('lies'). The cognitive distortions led to behaviors not accurately reflective of the true self. Addiction, rage and rebellion are just vestiges of the past. They are what is leftover from the trauma. The nature of the child did not change, only what she (or he) thought of herself changed. The perfectly imperfect and "good enough" child still exists, yet simply does not believe it anymore.
Treatment is not about making bad people good. "No, No, No". It is about making good people healthy. Resolution of the core issues, including that of "reality", addresses the root causes of addiction. It restores the true self and returns the "good enough" (inner) child to the safe harbor of his/her functional adult.
Anne Brown, a primary counselor at The Meadows since 2008, has a master's degree in counseling from Johns Hopkins University; she specializes in treating sex addiction, co-sex addiction, eating disorders, co-dependency, and the underlying trauma issues of addiction. She has been working in the counseling field since 1999.