Comfort Dependency: Your Brain on Shame

Dear Reader,

I will not apologize for my recent, several-months-long bout of radio silence. I will candidly describe myself as an irresponsible blogger with commitment issues. Currently, I’m cheating on blogging with college. And like I said, I am totally unapologetic. Call me a cad, but I just don’t have the energy or time to go steady.

When I come to my blog, it’s for purely selfish reasons. I need to ease the pressure in my head. I need comfort. Comfort is a luxury I am blessed to have. I have more than one. We all do really. Some comforts warm us and lull us. We can relax with them.

Some comforts take over our lives and transform into a curse as they suck vitality and integrity from our character, leaving us dependent. I have one of those comforts too.

I am, in fact, in recovery from one such comfort.

It doesn’t really matter what it is. Comfort dependency, often stamped as addiction, can be focused on everything from sex to self-harm, food to starvation. Humans have this unfortunate ability to become dependent on just about anything we put our minds and hearts to. Then we have to struggle to keep our comforts from defining us.

So no, it isn’t important what comfort I found I couldn’t let go of. The struggle looks the same for all of us. We discover the comfort, and we exalt in the way it makes us feel. At first, it seems like the antidote. We turn to it again and again, until  we are sicker than we thought, and we need that antidote daily.

It takes some time for us to admit that our antidote is actually the poison, and the cycle of illness that brings us back to it is self-sustaining. But knowing that we are willingly imbibing poison isn’t enough to stop us. Oddly, whatever pain motivated us to turn to this comfort becomes compounded by the shaming truth that we are not working toward health, but damning ourselves to invalidity.

Shame is the key ingredient of poisonous comforts. Initially, we are fooled into thinking excess is the worst part of comfort dependency. I disagree. I think shame drives our inability to put the poison down, even after we see it for what it is. Shame has us thinking that we will never be strong enough, or good enough to put the poison down. If that is the case, we might as well take a little more.

See?

Shame was right.

We did it again.

Where is the redemption in all of this? For me it was in the same place that I find all of my redemption. I found it in the God I worship. But shame is universal, regardless of religious persuasion. And when you look to the core of what healed me, and what can heal all the comfort-dependent, wellness-seeking, poison drinkers, the antidote ends up being that tried and true medicine that cures almost everything – love.

Shame tricks us into thinking we are not and will not be lovable.

We think of love as something we get from other people, as though it has to be given. But we as individuals manufacture love as naturally as we desire it. So while the love of others has healing powers, it is the love from inside ourselves, for ourselves, that flushes the poison from our systems.

Comfort is a blessing. That we can be comforted is a truly remarkable part of being human. It can be that through comfort, we learn the danger of losing ourselves to cycles of excess. Then we must learn that some of the best comfort of all starts from the inside and works its way out.

If it were easy, Shame would never be mixed in with blessings like Comfort. If it were impossible, I wouldn’t be able to write this now.

That is all.

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One thought on “Comfort Dependency: Your Brain on Shame

  1. I like this post. It left me thinking about my comforts and whether they are “poison” or up building. I am not sure if I have any positive comforts. but I’m sure I am overlooking something. But the thing I am thinking about the most is, how I feel about myself. It is obvious that I don’t love myself. I don’t have any idea how to even attempt to change that. In the position that I am in now, it seems impossible for me to change it. I will continue to think about this So, thank you for your insight and thought provoking words.

    I love you,

    Dad

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