Addiction: A Cry for Love


Addiction means that you deny yourself real healing and nourishment.

~Marcy Foley


There are many kinds of addiction: food addiction, alcohol and drug addiction, nicotine addiction, shopping addiction, gambling addiction, work addiction, sex addiction, and the most recent version is a computer addiction. As I do not want to discuss all types of addiction separately, I will reduce them to their common denominator: not wanting to feel your cry for love. Addiction is a way of coping with emotions that have not been digested and so keeping your head above water. It is, in fact, a survival strategy, a defense of the layer of feelings and emotions. Addiction is a form of trance behavior, wanting more of the same so as not to feel the pain.

An important aspect of addition is that it is a misguided form of seeking happiness and well-being. You try to feel pleasantly relaxed in the hope that it will bring you happiness. As it is too painful to admit your longing for love, you direct your longing towards feeling pleasant, towards having things, towards money, achievement, sex, or sweet things. Every addiction is, in actual fact, a cry for love. The reception of this cry and aiming this cry in the right direction is what it is all about. If you learn to receive this primal scream step by step, you will encounter many emotions on your path. It can become your path of liberation from the chains of addiction. By focusing on this deep layer of addiction behavior, you have a better chance of success than when you address yourself to your behavior and symptoms. If you are too fat because you are addicted to sweet things, it does not really help if you focus on your eating habits. That becomes an addiction on top of the original addiction and a vicious circle of being tolerant and being strict. You are better off concentrating on your longing for the sweetness of love and discovering what you lacked in your past history. You will, of course, encounter your pain and the bottomless pit of your lack of warmth, tenderness, and respect. It might sound strange, but in living through your pain, the bottom of your endless longing will be found. Your longing has become endless because it has never been acknowledged. In the loving reception of your longing and your want, your salvation and your base lie. You can only prepare this loving reception for yourself when you have mobilized the emotions of anger, fear, and sorrow. Somebody with an eating disorder, told me about her experience:

When I went to the kitchen to get something in-between meals, I was in a kind of trance. I felt something coming, apparently. I then went directly to the kitchen to get food. I did not even know what the feeling was. I was often not even conscious that there was something I did not want to feel. The food gave me a ‘good’ feeling, but if I stopped, I felt rotten and guilty and depressed. I told myself off, ‘You are so weak’ or ‘You are a big fat pig.’ Lately, I realize earlier what I am doing and can prevent it happening. I stand in the kitchen, for example, (I sometimes have something in my hands or I am searching for something) or I am on my way to the kitchen and realize suddenly, ‘I am doing it again.’ I then fill a feeding bottle with orangeade, or I go back to the room and try to find out why I wanted to go to the kitchen.

I often recommend a feeding bottle to reduce the addiction to the original need to suck. A feeding bottle is also an effective method of getting rid of a nicotine addiction. As always, it is about regressing to where it went wrong, so it is possible to progress to the next stage.

Recently, I received a letter from one of my students who suffered from a shopping addiction for years. By doing intensive emotional work, she transformed suffering from addiction, which reveals a victim attitude, into liberation from her addiction. By not focusing on the behavior itself—she had tried that in vain for years—but by transforming her excessive cry for love into Spark of Light Work, she could write the following to me:

I was in Amsterdam with a friend today. For the first time, I felt the contentment and peace of not having to buy anything. I could go into all kinds of shops without feeling rushed. Even eating just one sandwich was enough for me. I could really enjoy it without having to think of a third or fourth. Of course, it can all go wrong next week, but this experience feels like a victory and nobody can take that away from me again, and that’s the truth. I just wanted to let you know.

Central in her message is the sentence: “I could really enjoy it.” When you can prepare a loving reception for your neglected child that has wanted for so much, you can receive everything. Fundamental in this process is being able to receive and really accept; a base will subsequently be created by expressing emotions. Contentment and real well-being will then come into existence. Then enough will be enough.

From Fighting Symptoms to Liberation

A lot of people who are addicted and many helpers, too, still address themselves to what they see on the outside, namely addiction behavior. As we have already said, addiction is really a survival strategy. You will encounter a lot of resistance by focusing on a survival strategy and wanting to undermine it. It is threatening. It is like trying to take away somebody’s only lifebuoy at sea. Nobody will thank you for doing that. I saw a good example on the website of a self-help group for people who are addicted to self-mutilation:

Preceding the group therapy, I had to sign a contract saying that I would not hurt myself; I had to tell them every day if I had done so. If I had hurt myself, the counselor would tell me that I really must not do it. I could have hit her. I am not a little child that you can tell off. Her reprimands had the opposite effect.

In the self-help group, people understood very well that they could not help each other by focusing on cutting. They started to talk about their backgrounds and supported each other. That turned out to be the right way. If they had also made use of the carpet beater, such self-help groups would have taken another step forward. My message is simple: focus on whatever lies under the behavior and symptoms; it will be, as always, old pain. Expressing your emotions about that old pain is the way to transform your addiction to more of the same into creative ways of living. A person who had just started this Work exclaimed,

I can cry for the very first time. Cry! I never dared dreaming of doing that. I now have the courage to feel my sorrow and have found out that the world does not stop turning.

Once you have taken that first risk, it becomes easier, and you will say, “Was that what I was scared of? It hurt, but by crying, I started to feel happy again.



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