having watched the fascinating video posted by Lucy and Mallards I got all fired up about the causes of addiction. it’s just chemistry, sports fans! imbalances in brain tissue caused by our poor adaptation to the stresses of modern day life!

and so off I whizzed to the interweb and found some great articles bearing that out.

in particular, this one on how overstimulation and de-sensitization affects our brain:

‘We discover and create substances and entertainment media that super-stimulate our evolutionary reward centers (via sensory inputs and/or chemical triggers).  Refined sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, porn, videogames, gambling, alcohol, cocaine — they all trigger chemical cascades that make us feel good in the moment but have costs later on.  This cycle of addictive-thing-creation is speeding up, but we’re not coming up with ways to “inoculate” ourselves against addiction any faster.

So how do we get addicted to stuff?  The general pattern is that the stimulus triggers oversecretion and/or overproduction of a neurotransmitter or hormone.  To maintain homeostasis, the nervous system and/or endocrine system reduces the number (or in some cases sensitivity) of receptor sites.  Whatever the hormone or neurotransmitter is supposed to do, it does less of.  We become tolerant of the substance or behavior in question.  We need more of the same stimulus to get the same feeling or physiological effect.

If we become resistant to insulin, leptin, serotonin, dopamine, and/or cortisol, we can rensensitize our brains and bodies with a “more paleolithic” lifestyle.  Less food, fewer carbohydrates, intermittent fasting, less artificial light, less screen time, less alcohol and caffeine, fewer drugs, more exercise, more play, more rest and sleep, more human contact, more personal freedom (including freedom from tyranny and strict control structures), and work that makes us feel useful and appreciated will generally resensitize receptors and/or effectively regulate production of the neurotransmitters and hormones we need to feel happy, energetic, motivated, connected, relaxed, and fully alive.’

and that’s a really important message. because if ‘the issues are in our tissues’ as the wonderful Tommy Rosen would say, then there are practical, physical ways that we can foster our own healing.

there. done. science, yes?

but then this beautiful post from Clearlee came up in my reader this morning, and I was just blown away. deceptively simple, I found myself reading it over and over again. heartbreaking, showing enormous strength and self-knowledge, whilst allowing herself to truly experience her feelings. and the rewards are equally enormous:

‘Mostly, during these activities and beyond them, I spend time feeling. Just feeling. On my own. I feel the beauty of the world and of life. Sometimes I think it is the way I feel that is the most precious thing that I have. My new found sobriety is like how sweet it is to allow yourself to be consumed and enveloped in the rush of deeply falling for someone.

I am opening.

I breathe in this feeling that I can’t quite name yet. It is warm and smooth and so full. It embraces me and propels me. It makes me feel invincible, calm, and beautiful. It is exciting and comforting all at the same time. It is the opposite of heartache.

I think this is love. I oscillate between these two places- the emptiness and the fullness.’

because the beauty and mystery and indwelling grace that she is describing cannot be titrated for, or seen on any scan.

head AND heart, gentle readers. we need both to find our way out of the maze of addiction. I wish you courage and joy on your journey out of the maze today.

the title of this blog post is taken from a quote from Albert Camus:

‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.’

you can be invincible, calm and beautiful. just watch yourself do it.

21 days to go to one year.