The real issue isn’t the issue..

By Monica C. Voskamp

Why do we (continually) do things we regret? Why do we submit ourselves to a cycle of abuse when we abhor it so much?

In short, the moment of pleasure and immediate comfort is cherished more than the repercussions of pain and the work of resolution.

There are many reasons we do what we do,  why we *continue* to do it…but I think there comes a point to realize the glaring issue isn’t the real issue to deal with anymore.

The first time I was called fat, I was a little girl. It re-labeled me. It changed how I saw myself, how I acted and reacted in life.

These words hurt me. People failed me one too many times. I soon found something that gave me immediate pleasure: Food.  The problem was it never was enough.  Whenever I was conflicted, dejected, rejected, disappointed, I sought out this instant relief. However, this ‘relief’ brought me more misery…my body suffered physically and emotionally I never experienced healing from the hurt. Instead I self-soothed the way I first knew how.  I “protected” the hurt from any other “healing”. I think this is natural response. You’re scared. You were hurt. Its frightening to do something different with an area so vulnerable, so locked deep in yourself.

Still, food wasn’t the solution, but in my little mind it did the trick. However, it turned on me. Addictions do that; they turn on you. 

Yes there was a beginning point, a hurt, an injustice…something went wrong, but the things is it never got dealt with rightly.

We naturally look for fixes-whether in food, sex, alcohol, achievements, cheap thrills…you know your fix. You also know it’s not really a fix. It’s a “jimmy-fix”…what you do on old cars when you want them to last just a little longer.  That’s what we’re doing with addictions, just trying to make it through another day. To fix the problem feels too overwhelming.

If “jimmy-fixes” (quick reliefs) are ALL you are ever giving yourself, don’t expect success. Except survival, disappointment, more hurt. Don’t expect an improved relationship, the debt to be gone, the arguments to dissipate, the hurting inside to stop.  Don’t expect things to just get better.

We all know covering the surface scratch doesn’t repair the deep inner damage.

For years, I did ‘minor repairs’ for my emotional complex, my broken sense of identity.

I self-soothed through the quick fix of food. As I aged, I tried to approach my food addiction various times…. dieting, counseling, renewed resolutions blah blah blah. I saw some temporary results, but nothing lasting. I never had the guts to expose the real issue: the issue inside of me. I hated me. I didn’t realize this, till later. Truth is, I was way too scared to confront the hurt.

Who isn’t afraid of facing the overwhelming, of what caused the addiction and the addiction itself?

It’s more comfortable to ignore, to hide from the awful reality, than confront.

Long ago I pegged myself incompetent, unable, a misfit. These messages were reinforced with circumstances, with people in my childhood. The thing is I was also tuned into this channel defeat. I didn’t stand back and see the good input that was happening. Kids are pretty smart but they are also kids. They are ever absorbing, ever reinforcing and building their viewpoints of how life, how people should operate.

I think as adults, we have to revisit those pillars. What if we stood back and,

1. Acknowledge the initial hurt. (Sometimes going backwards allows us to go forward)

2. Create new life giving messages. (The way we think, greatly impacts our behavior)

3. Allow change in our life. (Addictive behaviors don’t promote healing, find something that does.)

This was me when I was 29 years old, 248 pounds. I was freaking out over my chaotic cycles of bingeing, looking for relief, but never getting any. I finally faced myself, the hurt, the real issue. I had come to hate myself…and that’s what needed healing. I had rejected myself based on other’s opinions and reviews of me. New messages in my thinking were needed, not more food.

The day I saw 248 pounds I told myself I needed to do something radically different.  I vowed I would do whatever it took.  I didn’t understand or have a complete grasp on the details right away, but I had a distinct turn in my mind.

This healing message dawned on me: Mon, you hold power in your hands. You CAN do something about this life-long battle.

I admitted the TRUTH of the situation: It was an enormous mountain.  It would take a lot of work.

I took responsibility: (The addiction) was MY mess. At the end of the day, only I could create lasting change.  I was now in pursuit of resolving. I was going forward, with fear no longer stopping me. See how much that revolves with me…”I” statements?  (Not to say, I didn’t ask for help along the way! And a phrase from the book of Psalms gave me a new motto….being a woman of “strong courage”)

The thing is I stopped making excuses for my addictive behavior and started with what what I could do.  I took my wobbly unsteady 248 pound insecure self and began short daily walks of 10 minutes, outside.

Previously, I had been used to exercising inside, hiding, I was too ashamed of my body, of my condition. I didn’t want people to see me.

Hiding never promotes healing. It breeds fear, shame, guilt and reinforces the same behaviors. You need to be found, unhidden in order to heal. 


The turning point of resolution, for healing is:

-admitting I WANT to deal with my situation.

-moving ahead, instead of spinning circles.

-seeing myself capable, instead of incapable.

-believing in success, instead of doomed to failure.

-aiming for progress not perfection

It may be debt. It may be the unspoken secrets destroying your marriage. It may be hidden addictions. Whatever issues are overwhelming you will best be healed when you look deeper within.

However, when it comes down to it,  many prefer to stay stuck. Many of us will suffer the abuse, the pain, the debt, the hurt of addictions INSTEAD of seeking resolution. Why?  Resolution requires a cost.

Resolution takes:  honesty. work. courage. new paths. letting go.

We can get comfortable in our struggles. We can become more SCARED of good changes than we are the pain, the problem. It’s rightly so.

You are going into a new territory. You are dealing with something sensitive. But a war was never won with a leader who was too scared of the risks, too scared to lose the comfort of what he had, too scared he would fail. He was already losing. He saw what he could gain, he admitted it would take more than his own power and resources. That leader saw a cause worth pursuing, and he pursued.

The thing to fear isn’t the issues or addictions, the thing to fear is your  own complacency.

As soon as you believe a cause is worth pursuing, you WILL do whatever it takes to win that battle. Even if you die still halfway in the process, you will have made successes. You will have covered new ground. You will have inspired others and gained new appreciation for yourself.

Courageous steps are never a loss, they are always celebratory.

My boss once told me this: you can always learn from your mistake and recover that ground.  But if you do nothing, it gives a bad impression, like you don’t care or aren’t willing to even try. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.  Wise words. That leader taught me this:

Don’t expect to execute immediate perfection in a new situation. Simply do progression.

Facing the big mountains in our life isn’t easy. I’ve experienced it. It’s still hard…to be brave, to put in effort and forge my fears, but it’s also still rewarding, empowering,  life-changing, soul healing.

That is a good price to pay. When you believe in your investment, you WILL see revenue.

Stop overthinking the fears, spit out your pride and step into the progression, not perfection.

The real issue is more about you, and less about the overwhelming situation.  Are you willing? Do you want this bad enough? There are resources! There are other people on this planet to help you. But the thing is, it’s starts with you.

You are capable. You are intelligent. You are powerful. And your life matters.

Believe it. You will not regret it. 🙂

Always believe. Always hope. Always love. ❤

*Photo Credits: Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash



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