Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Addictions and Baggage

Let me make something clear.  Josh and I have a beautiful relationship.  I couldn’t be more blessed to have someone like him by my side.  In life, there’s always that one person that comes along and makes you realize why your other relationships never worked out.  There’s that one person who makes you understand that the word “love” is so much more than a four letter word.  For me, that special person is Josh.  Even before we first met, it’s always been him.  What makes our relationship so beautiful is that individually we are strong, loving people, and together, we are even stronger.  We’ve gone through so much during our courtship, but we’ve always come out stronger and more resilient.  We have hurt ourselves and each other multiple times, but we always end up falling deeper in love (cue eye rolls).  Say what you will, but I still believe in love, despite the fact that we live in what appears to be a loveless world.  I’m not saying that I believe a fairytale relationship, where each person is perfect and there are never any disagreements or hurt feelings.  I’m young, yes, but I’m by no means naive. 

I knew going into my relationship with Josh that there would be trials.  Think about it… two imperfect people that start dating/courting aren’t going to come together to make a perfect couple.  Logic states that imperfection can’t breed perfection.  It’s impossible.  Josh and I were two scarred, imperfect people going into an imperfect relationship.  We each brought our own set of baggage to the relationship, and as Josh mentioned in his earlier post, “Everyone comes with baggage.  Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.”  And that is exactly what we are doing.  Slowly but surely, we are helping each other to unpack.  We are laying out all our wounds, fears, addictions, and painful memories.  We are bearing it all, knowing that as we unpack we are gradually understanding each other better and as a result, falling more in love.

The baggage we brought may have been heavy, but it’s growing lighter each day.  Of this baggage, the heaviest by far has been our addictions, and I’m not necessarily referring to substance addictions.  According to Dictionary.com, the word “addiction” is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming”.  How many of you can think of something in your lives that fits within this definition?  If you can’t think of anything, you’re either lying to yourself or you’re probably not human.  I know that I can think of several things in my life that can be defined as addictions.  I brought them into my relationship with Josh, just as Josh brought his own.  When you start dating/courting someone or even when you marry someone, your problems and addictions don’t magically disappear.  Instead, we bring each of them into our relationships and if we’re not careful, we give them the power to destroy everything in the relationship that we worked so hard to achieve.

If you’re currently in a relationship, what addictions do you have packed away in your suitcase?  Alcoholism?  Negativity?  Pornography?  A self-deprecating attitude?  An eating disorder?  Each of these addictions is not only burdensome and painful to carry, but can also take a toll on your significant other.  While it might be easier to ignore them at times, we must face them head on if we ever want our relationships to reach their full potential.  Only when we admit our faults to God, ourselves, and our loved ones can we finally find solutions and reach our own maximum potential.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that Josh has had habits and addictions that have cut me deeply.  At times, I’ve been tempted to turn away, thinking that it will spare me from more hurt.  Yet, it is during these times that I also remember the unconditional love that God showed us when He sent His only son to die for us sinners.  We didn’t deserve His love and grace, yet we received it anyway.  Who are we to withhold this same unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance from others?  I’ve brought my fair share of baggage and addictions into my relationship with Josh, and he’s never turned away.  He’s always seen me for who I truly am and not what I do.  Josh deserves the very same from me.  He is not his past nor is he what he does or the mistakes he has made.  Josh is an imperfect individual just like me and worthy of my unyielding, unconditional love.

To close out this post, I’d like to go over a few steps for “unpacking” addictions and breaking them:

  1. Ask yourself why you turn to ______.  Truly contemplate and pinpoint the underlying causes of your addictions and habits. 
  2. Don’t minimize the severity of your addiction or deny it!  Face the fact that it is holding you down and preventing you from reaching your full potential.  If you can’t do this on your own, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help from your significant other or from loved ones. 
  3. Seek alternative (healthy!) ways to cope with whatever is causing your addiction.  Don’t replace it with something equally damaging. 
  4. Recognize your weaknesses.  Is it the Internet?  TV?  Negative friends?  If you want to progress and overcome your struggles, you need to get rid of whatever tempts or negatively influences you. 
  5. Have a support system to help you on your journey!  Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12 says it best.  “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  We all need loved ones and friends that will be real with us and keep us accountable. 
  6. Give yourself some credit!  As you progress and slowly overcome your addiction, reward yourself for your efforts.  Whether this reward is positive words to yourself or treating yourself (and your significant other) to a fancy dinner, you need to stay motivated!

Read and reread these steps.  Memorize them!  Write them on a notecard!  Do what you have to in order to keep them fresh in your mind.  I wish you the very best on your journey!

As always, feel free to email us as Showinghearts@gmail.com.  Josh and I hope to hear from you soon!

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