Have you ever been in a room full of people and thought, "If only they knew what was going on in my life"? Or you thought, "I want to tell her or him, but if I do will they judge me." I know that I have.
It was during a time in my life when everything on the outside appeared great, but on the inside, I was sad and exhausted physically and mentally. You could not tell if you saw me, but I kept the pain hidden. Oh yeah, I struggled silently with an addiction.
When I share my struggle, some of you might wonder if it's an addiction, or you might think it could be a lot worse. However, let me assure you it's an addiction. The impact has similar effects as other addictions; such as damaging relationships, broken promises, hiding the truth, and self-abuse.
Here are a few symptoms that I had:
• I worked through lunch and would not stop to eat. I did this more often than not.
• I found myself always thinking about work and would be stressed about work often.
• I would not make time to get routine check-ups. I found myself canceling or consistently rescheduling doctor appointments because I chose to work instead.
• I had a need to control things at work. I did not properly delegate.
• Vacation was not in my vocabulary during that season of my life.
• My family and friends expected me to be unable to attend functions, or I would cancel my plans with them.
These are a few, but I will not bore you with a long list. I'm sure you get the picture by now. I can remember saying these words out loud as if it was yesterday. My name is Erika and I’m a workaholic! I can remember my counselor and I discussing this in one of my sessions. I can remember thinking, "There's no such thing. You have to work that hard, long, and choose work, or you would not have a job!" As I began to work through my issues with my counselor and started to be EX-POSED to truth, I realized there were deeper wounds that I needed to address. They included depression, guilt, shame, and self-worth issues.
After several sessions with my counselor, I begin to address the deeper issues and found ways to change slowly. I knew that I had to set my priorities to align with what I discovered to be true. I had to set boundaries and realize I am worthy to have fun with my friends and family! As I began to make changes, I could see how happy I became on the inside. I've had setbacks, but I acknowledge it. I share it with those I trust that hold me accountable, and I set a goal to do better the next day.
If you're reading this and you are battling with an addiction, tell someone you love or see a licensed counselor. Here’s a list of addictions that someone may be facing today: Alcohol, approval, drugs, medications, gambling, sex, chaos, eating disorder, codependency, pornography, shopping, work, exercise, masturbation, risky behaviors, and people pleasing to name a few.
You do not have to struggle in silence. I've found throughout my life when I EX-POSED truth; it was a major step in my healing process. We cannot heal what we do not reveal. There's a scripture in Psalm that says, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long."
I experienced that pain for years until I engraved the following scriptures in my heart. "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 (NIV)
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
My prayer for you this week is that you take a bold step by sharing your addiction or struggle with someone you trust or a licensed counselor. I know the thought of it is scary and overwhelming. I know you think that you can heal on your own. I'm sure your truth is similar to mine. If you could change it on your own, you would have already. I was scared too, but you have to take the step even if you're trembling. On the other side of your struggle is your freedom. I believe in you and will be cheering you on as you take the first step to change.