In this episode, we take on the huge topic of addiction and trauma with my guest Alex Castro Croy, Director and President of Life Recovery Centers in Northglenn and Denver, Colorado.
Alex is a licensed professional counselor, licensed addictions counselor, and a bilingual EMDR certified-trauma informed therapist. What a background: 15 years combined experience as a drug court probation officer and addiction treatment provider. Alex is well known as a trainer in the US and internationally, addressing topics of trauma, addiction, self-care, and implementation of Jungian psychology in the addiction/trauma field. Oh, and Alex is an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University at the graduate and undergraduate level.
One more thing. Alex is also working on his PhD in depth psychology, which is how I met him. I can’t believe that was seven years ago.
For those of you who struggle with addiction and for those who have loved ones who struggle, I know you will appreciate this conversation, which is full of depth, compassion, and specific ways to think differently about a topic that affects so many people.
I encourage you to wonder what addicts and addiction are mirroring back to all of us.
Let's get started . . .
Deborah Lukovich, PhD
Alex's TEDx Talk on YouTube
We've Had a Hundred Years of Therapy, and the World is Getting Worse, James Hillman
Re-Visioning Psychology, James Hillman
Follow Alex on Facebook and Instagram
P.S. Check out my work at www.deborahlukovich.com, where you can also subscribe to receive notifications of new blog posts, podcast episodes, updates on my writing, and information about my coaching services and free mini-lessons.
Check out my new book, Your Soul is Talking. Are You Listening? 5 Steps to Uncovering Your Hidden Purpose. You can now buy it on www.bookshop.org if you're looking for an alternative to you know who (Amazon).
Follow me on Instagram @dlukovich and Twitter @deblukovich or become a friend on Facebook. Check out Soul Talk 101, a series of mini-lessons on how to explore your unconscious offered through my YouTube Channel.
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Speaker 1: You are listening to Dose of Depth podcast. I'm your host, Debra Lukic, and I invite you to be curious about your unique experience of being human. In this podcast, we'll explore the deeper meaning of ordinary life experiences through conversation, stories, and education. You might have a serious aha moment, or you might just be amused by the movie. Your life seems to be imitating, or you might just be entertained by one of my awkward stories. I'm hoping you'll become more aware of those moments when a deeper part of you is prompting you to see things differently and maybe even go a new direction. So let's get started. In this episode, we take on the huge topic of addiction and trauma with my guest, Alex Castro Croix, director and President of Life Recovery Centers in North Glenn and Denver, Colorado. Alex is a licensed professional counselor, licensed addictions counselor, and a bilingual EMDR certified trauma informed therapist.
Speaker 1: Alex 15 years combined experience as a drug court probation officer and addiction treatment provider. Alex is well known as a trainer in the US and internationally addressing topics of trauma, addiction, self-care, and implementation of union psychology in the addiction trauma field. Oh, and Alex is an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University at the graduate and undergraduate level. One more thing, Alex is also working on his PhD in depth psychology, which is how I met him. I can't believe that was seven years ago. As I've shared before, I was mysteriously called to study depth psychology, and it ended up being my companion as my marriage and sense of purpose crumbled. Alex was like a big teddy bear, always ready with a hug and a living example of the courage one needs to fall apart. The funny thing about being part of a cohort studying depth psychology is that we're all mysteriously called to the field for a reason, many times unknown to us, and almost every one of the 12 of us took our turn involuntarily having a big cry or gaining a huge surprising insight.
Speaker 1: During our three years together, we know we're not totally in charge. One memory of Alex stands out for me. We were paired up, and I'm not sure what we are supposed to be discussing in class, but when I learned that Alex was an addictions counselor, I started throwing all kinds of questions at him. I was perplexed about why it had taken 20 years of marriage to notice that my husband had an alcohol addiction. It had been there all along. Of course, wreaking quiet havoc, contributing to a level of exhaustion and stress that I hadn't known wasn't in a typical family of four. In hindsight, I think the moment the addiction fully revealed itself was right after I had shared with my husband that I was questioning our compatibility into the future. It just got worse and worse after that. Later, I would need to end our marriage, but at that time, I was drowning and grasping for ways to fix things.
Speaker 1: Little did I know that wasn't my chicken, huh? If you wanna know what that means, you'll have to watch Alex's TEDx talk on YouTube, which you can get to via life recovery centers.net/team. It's really good. I'll tell you a little more about our conversation later in the interview. So let's get started. Welcome, Alex. How are you doing? You are a super busy person, and I really appreciate you taking time on a Saturday. I hope you usually get to enjoy your weekend. So tell us what's the most exciting thing going on right now in your life?
Speaker 2: Well, thank you for having me. It's an honor and I'm humbled to be here, and it's great to connect with you again after so many years. Oh my gosh, I'm admit. Um, so on a personal level, um, I, um, am expanding and growing so much in training and educating. Um, I've been doing continue to teach at Metro State University of Denver in the Counseling and Human Services department, and so I'm teaching on the graduate level and undergraduate level. I just recently did my TED Talk, uh, with this year, which was a huge thank you. Loved it. Thank you. It was huge. Because of that, I got offered, um, I got offered to write a book, and so I'm writing my book right now. Um, it's called, it's gonna be called the Soulful Professional, um, intersection with Soul and the Human and the the Soul.
Speaker 1: Oh my gosh. I love it. And so you're gonna have to come back on to talk about that.
Speaker 2: Of course, of course. Yes. Right. So I'm, I'm still in the process of writing each chapters. I'm, I'm incorporating a lot about, we're gonna talk about today. I'm incorporating a incorporating it a lot in my book. Ooh.
Speaker 1: Oh, perfect. Okay. Well, let's dive in. So, as, as fellow depth psychologists, we know that mysterious forces have been pushing and prodding us during our lives, which are full of opportunities to respond one way or another, to one event or another event. And sometimes we can only make sense of our journey after being on it for decades. Your story is a complex one, and I know many things were colliding when you found yourself at Pacifica studying depth psychology. Maybe you knew why you were there. Maybe you did it, maybe you thought you knew, but there was a hidden purpose that real revealed itself over time. So if you could start by sharing with my listeners your story, your background, how you found yourself at Pacifica, what's happened since, and also maybe what has surprised you about your journey?
Speaker 2: Yeah. So my story, I was born in Mexico. Um, my parents migrated to the States, and, um, at a very young age, I've been, uh, was exposed to a lot of spiritu, spirituality, Christianity. Um, my parents are, um, involved in a Pentecostal church. And in my passion, my love for, um, narrative parables and stories and myth, I really dove in, um, to biblical stories, um, parables, uh, uh, poems, a lot of poetry. And then I, when I went to, um, elementary and middle school, I started expanding that a lot as well. Greek mythology, Roman mythology, mythology, um, Mayan, you know, I started realizing the different cultures of the world and started really, uh, feeling called to that, uh, sense of, uh, higher power, goddesses, gods and whatnot. And how humans, um, humans played a role in civilization with this higher sense of being in narratives.
Speaker 2: There's always narratives and stories and myth. And then I remember when I was about 10 years old, this is like my first introduction to, to Seoul. I was around 10 years old. It was, we were driving down to a restaurant off in Redlands, California where I'm originally from. And I remember it was, I was 10 years old, and I was looking at my hand, and I remember I moved my hand back and forth, and I said, this is not me. This is not, I move my hand, I see my skin, but there's something more to me. This is not me. And I remember looking at my mom and saying, mom, this is not me. And she's like, you're, what are you talking about <laugh> now looking at my hand? And I was like, this is me. I control my finger in my hands, but this, there's something more to this skin and bones, that's me.
Speaker 2: And I can see my skin, I can see my hand, but there's more to this. And I remember my mom's like, you have a calling. You have a calling. And, you know, um, God has a, a great, you know, higher power has a, has a higher calling for you. And I remember, I, that's where I was like, there's more to this. I see people, but there's more. And I couldn't put my finger on it, but I, I dived in more into that. Um, uh, the thing with me was that at a very young age, I identified as a gay male. And so I, being a Latina, a Mexican immigrant, um, gay male in a, uh, and I'm first generation immigrant, where that comes with a whole bunch of, um, expectations. And then, um, also being a Mexican, there's cultural expectations, gender expectations, um, and then being, uh, in church, there's certain expectations as well that come with it.
Speaker 2: And so I started realizing in order for me to be authentic and genuine, I had to compartmentalize and hide a certain part of who, because it was not going to be accepted. However, I knew there was something there. Does that make sense? And so, yes, fast forward, um, I wanted to go to, uh, live my life in, um, in pretty much in, in the closet for the majority of my years. I had one cousin, my cousin Richard, that really knew, um, about me. And I was very authentic and genuine with him. However, when I graduated from high school, I wanted to go to, um, the Art Academy of San Francisco out of all places, right? And <laugh>, I decided, um, my parents, um, you know, really influenced a lot my decision. And they said, you know, you got a free, you got a, a scholarship to go to the Hispanic Institute of Ministry, which is seminary in Dallas.
Speaker 2: And I was like, we have, but I want to go to the art institute. And my dad pretty much said, if you want to go to the, any, if you want to leave the house, culturally, you're not allowed to leave the house until you're married. And the only way you're gonna leave the house is if you go to a school, which we approve, and Texas is it. And I decided to go. Um, I said, I'll, I let me get out and do my, spread my wings and fly. And I did that was inseminate for two years, graduated with my associate. I knew it was not for me. Came back to California. I became the youth leader for Southern California in Arizona. Um, and I was, I was still in the closet. I was, I was in trauma. We have this, uh, there's four trauma, responsive fight, flight, freeze or faw.
Speaker 2: And I was in full blown faw, people pleasing. I'm losing myself. I'm not being authentic and genuine to myself. Cause I have to, in order for me to be accepted, I have to please. And so, um, I came back and I became, uh, I became a youth leader, which I love that. Um, I love being the youth leader of Southern California, Arizona, did youth camps. But then I started getting pressure from, uh, the administrators to get married, you need to get married. There was, uh, concerns that my early twenties that I was not, uh, having a girlfriend. And people were starting to speculate. And, and I finally said, okay, I'll get a girlfriend. Um, and the girlfriend, I mean, we were super, we were like best friends more than anything. And then they said, you, uh, they gave me a church. Uh, so I started pastoring in Southern California at a very young age.
Speaker 2: At age I was probably 20 years old. Yeah, I was 20, 21, I'm 21. I, they gave me a church, very desolate area in Riverside County. Um, started off with like five people and started doing outreach. Youth follow me, followed me from, from, uh, as a youth leader. People came in, I started pastoring, and people came from la, from Compton, from Anaheim. They were coming from all over southern California to my church once a week. And, um, if you bring juveniles, if you bring kids, people, parents will follow. And so the church grew significantly. And then that's when they told me, you had to get, you have to get married. And I was like, I can't do this anymore. And so I resigned, turned in my credentials, and then I got a scholarship to Metro here, um, in Colorado. And I packed up my things, turned in my credentials, turned in my keys, and I came to Colorado.
Speaker 2: And in Colorado, I got my undergrad at the university that I teach now at Metro State University of Denver in human services with an emphasis on counseling and a minor in criminal justice. And then, um, when I graduated, I went to Regis University, a Jesuit Catholic university, a private university here in Denver. There I met Pat Salvato, Dr. Dr. Pat Subura. Um, and I met Dr uh, uh, Fidel Rice, Anna Marie, Fidel Rice, which were all, both of them were graduates from Pacifica. And, and so, um, her, so it was, uh, so through, I had those two professors specifically, and they had gone through the society program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. And when they started talking about Yung, I always knew about, I knew about Yung in my undergrad and, you know, the fathers of, of psychology. But when I went to my master's program and I started taking grief and loss, um, you know, uh, uh, principles and theories of, uh, of, uh, counseling, and I had these two professors, I was exposed to union, uh, psychology, depth psychology on a whole different level that really resonated with my heart. And I told them, I don't know where you guys went to school. I don't know where you got your PhDs, but I am feeling called to go. And, um, they told me Pacifica Pacific Graduate Institute. And then I applied to Pacifica and I got accepted. And I, I specifically went for the union in archetypal studies, uh, the Master and PhD program. And that's how we met.
Speaker 1: And, and, and that's how we met. And it's really funny because we all, like, there is this moment and we really fall in love <laugh>. Yeah. I think we actually fall in love because YY and depth psychology is soul, is soul psychology. So, yes. So thank you. Like, as I said, you have like a complex story and, um, a really dramatic one actually. Uh, so okay, let's move forward then. Um, I think a good place to go, uh, regarding this topic would be to help my listeners get a feel for how a depth psychology approach is different or compliments con a conventional approach to addiction and trauma.
Speaker 2: I think it compliments it significantly, um, in Colorado. So let me a little caveat before I go into, um, the therapeutic models that I use pre previously, um, when I graduated from undergrad, I became a probation officer for the state of Colorado. I was a probation officer, and then I went to become a diversion officer with, um, the Denver District Attorney's office. And in that time, I worked as a drug court probation officer. Now, a whole bunch of kids that were under my supervision had a lot of intergenerational trauma, a lot of trauma, and they were numbing, self-medicating with, uh, substance use. And so that's where my introduction to trauma and addiction came in with, um, the, the juvenile population to work with, uh, the Denver District Attorney as a district, as a diversion officer for survivors of sex trafficking, human sex trafficking and juvenile sex offenders.
Speaker 2: Um, so there were 10, uh, the survivors of, of, uh, the sex trade industry were in juveniles, who had been, who ran away from home, were picked up by, uh, pimps, and then they were recruited to, um, to prostitute themselves, uh, um, and on the streets, both, uh, young men and young women. And then I also started working with, uh, they, we, we refer to 'em as offending victims, where there were 10, 11 year olds who were survivors of sexual abuse and were repeating the behaviors with their brothers. And so they, they were in the diversion program. The therapeutic models that they were using were very, um, uh, they were worked in sync with a lot of the criminal justice program, and it really lacked a lot of soul. And so it was more like, if you don't do this, you're gonna be, you know, uh, revoked.
Speaker 2: You're gonna go to jail. There was, the consequence was punitive. It wasn't, um, it was, there was no reward or outcome with mm-hmm. <affirmative> healing was not, part of it was, it was part of behavior modification, not so much healing. And so when I started working with the kids, I started realizing, no, these kids need to healing. This is intergenerational healing that needs to happen. Um, and so, uh, as I started working with kids, I started realizing there weren't number one, I'm bilingual part of the G L B T C community. I'm an immigrant first generation, and I have a mental health background as well as criminal justice background. And so I was like, I need to jump the fence. And that's when I resigned and became a, a prob, uh, a director for, uh, mental health in substance abuse treatment center. In my job.
Speaker 2: I started realizing, um, the more research I did working, um, with, uh, Dr. James Gordon, Dr. Gabo Matay, I started realizing all of them are saying the same thing. That addiction stems from unresolved trauma. The Greek definition of trauma is wound. The Greek definition of psyche is soul. Yes. And so, when we think about individuals who have been traumatized, they've been wounded in their five domains, physical, emotional, relational, mental or spiritual, that wounding the trauma in those, one of those five domains or multiple domains has caused a wound that can't be healed, or that has to be, has to be managed. And so the only way people learn to manage that wound is through substances. Mel, uh, substance use, or through unhealthy maladaptive behavior, addict to porn shopping, uh, lying, uh, stealing you, uh, you name it, sex. Um, you start realizing that these addictive behaviors come as a fruition for unresolved woundings that ha individuals mm-hmm.
Speaker 2: <affirmative>. And so when we work with addiction, we started using that lens. How can you, so I, so one, one of the things I used for my union depth psychology lens is, you know, psychology is the, the study of psyche, study of soul, study of the mind psycho, um, psycho, uh, psychiatry is medicating the mind, medicating, um, you know, medicating the, the, the soul. And when you think about psychotherapy, it's soul tending. Soul tending mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because you come in, you trust, you have to trust the process, trust the person who's holding the space and trust yourself to talk about and process the wounds that you've experienced and how you're using certain behaviors to deal with it. And so it, it humanizes and normalizes our human condition. It doesn't pathologize, even though it comes with, you know, the, the diagnosis, but we don't focus on the pathology. We focus on the wounding and the steps you can take to heal that wound and modify the behavior as a result.
Speaker 1: Oh, yes, I, I love it. And of course, our mind, our ego really is a protector and really wants to stay, wants to stay away from that. So, you know, even, even that's a, a big shift, uh, that can change how you would approach even looking at that person sitting in the chair, once you say the word soul and get it out of the brain and out of the mind, you're, the whole conversation changes. So thank you. I think that was like a really understandable way, because I think we don't say soul enough. We say therapy, like, what is therapy? We sit there and we talk and it stays in the mind, and it doesn't really get to the soul level. So, so, um, there was a conversation that we had, I mentioned in my introduction, we were in our second year of Pacifica. You were already infusing depth psychology into your practice.
Speaker 1: And as I listened to you, something you said got my attention, and how I understood it was to help people relate to their addiction. You had ask something like, and this has stayed with me all these years. Well, well, what does Jose Quervo want from you? And I was like, what? Or whatever the booze of choice is, maybe Captain Morgan. And then we can think about the symbolism of actually how they name those powerful substances. So I want my listeners to linger in that for a moment. So for those who struggle with an addiction, what if you ask that addiction and whatever form it takes, what do you want from me? Well, you know, like Kate Spade, what do you want from me? What casino? What, what is, what do you want from me? Um, that really impacted me when you shared it, and it totally changed the way I thought about addiction.
Speaker 1: And it sounds silly, but what a powerful way to relate to addiction. A way that allows the person, the addict, and people around them that love them to separate, like, to sort of detach a little bit, um, from this thing that's constantly luring them. Something that you can personify actually. So you're the expert, of course, but I wonder if what that does is create some space between the person, the addict, and the addiction, so that they can get out from under the thumb of this other part of them to look at it and to have compassion for the part of them that cannot resist the temptation. So I think we're getting into archetypal psychology here. So could you talk more about this whole notion and how, maybe even how that, how you've integrated, that's a great example. But, you know, just talk more about that cuz it's a great way to sort of illustrate how you've integrated union psychology in the field. And just talk about in a way that, like, I'm sure some of my listeners do wonder, like, do I have an issue, do I have an addiction or a maladaptive behavior? Because I think to a certain extent, we all do because of the context of the world that we're living in right now. So, you know, something that they can take back to relate to personally. And then also, everyone has someone in their life that has an addiction. So how can they even look at those people differently?
Speaker 2: Um, one of the things that I've learned, um, in-depth psychology and through my process of, um, of healing is to sh to move away or invite the individual that I'm working with, um, away from the stigma, from the shame, from the short, from the criminal labels, if they're on probation, on parole, if they lost their kids, you know, their unfit mother, unfit father, I wanna move away from that because that's part of the shadow, their shadow, right? That's part of, um, what's not allowing them to individually or meet their full potential. And so I wanna capture the essence of the human individual and the soul within that human. That being said, I invite the individual to look within themselves and ask themselves or ask the question, you know, what is Jose Cuervo? What is heroin? What is cocaine? What is weed asking of me? If I was to give a microphone to cocaine, to weed marijuana or to alcohol, what would it say?
Speaker 2: What? And then it, it allows, uh, cognitive emotional inventory of psyche of self. Like, you know what, you're in so much pain and you can't tolerate that pain. And so I help you carry that pain. I hold pain for you. I hold, you know, you know, when we talk about the four types of childhood woundings that come, that start coming up for adults, the four types is I, uh, rejection, betrayal, abandoned shame. And so when we talk about what, when you think about what is the, the drug, what, what is, how, what is it asking of you? Or what is it? Um, what is it asking of you and from you? And it's asking you to deal with the pain, to deal with that unresolved wounding of rejection and betrayal. Or is it holding and numbing it so that you can continue moving forward? But that's not sustainable as you can see.
Speaker 2: And so what that does, it brings the human and a soulful approach, and it empowers the client to see, you know what? I can do this work aside from my sh my my, uh, mistake that I made, that got me involved in the system. I can still feel empowered to step up, stand up, speak up, inside out. I can speak to the addiction and say, let's have a conversation. I need to make amends with myself, with my soul, with my psyche away from you. And I can also say, um, I don't need you. I don't need you. You served your purpose and I can move forward. Does that make sense?
Speaker 1: Yeah. And you know, I really, I really love that because I think so much, such a big part of the addict's experience has to do with everybody else. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? Everybody that they're letting down, they know, you know what I mean? They, they know that they're having this impact on the world around them. So it always, it becomes part of everybody else. And I really like how you said, you know, let's have a dialogue with myself. Now, people wouldn't think to do that because we haven't been really taught to relate to our unconscious and all of our inner beings. Like, that doesn't even come up as a possibility. So even just saying, oh, let me have a conversation with this part of myself who's really just kind of torturing me anyway. So like, take a seat over there. Can I just like take a look at you and I've got some questions for you.
Speaker 1: This sounds like silly and maybe basic, but it could really change the relationship with yourself. And maybe that relates to this other question I have, because I have said in the intro that the topic of addiction is, especially to alcohol, is personal. For me, it took 20 years of marriage for me to even realize that my husband had an alcohol addiction. He didn't know either. And then one day it just like mushroomed out of, you know, it just mushroomed. And so at, at that point, to see something after, you know, now I'm in midlife, that I wonder about this notion that when addicts think that it's just about not drinking, so they're actually, they don't see a wound. For some people they do, right? They're like, oh, my upbringing was terrible. Like, they actually know that they're angry at something or about something and, and they have this addiction, but it's really more difficult when the addict is, you know, can't see their wound or maybe they're so wounded that they can't even approach the wound. So I'm just, you know, wondering cuz it's very frustrating for loved ones then, you know, because, you know, we can see that there's some psychology, but the person is focused on sort of the chemical part. Um, and, and not the wo
Speaker 2: So when I have, yes, I have, uh, individuals who come in, it's like, I can stop whenever I want. This is not an issue. And it's like, however, this is your fourth d u i, your fifth d u i, which now has turned into a felony, um, and you still choose to not change. So I, so I start challenging, is this something if you are aware of it, so then you're in denial and you're choosing to continue the behavior, number one. So that's still a choice, empowerment, or you're lacking awareness something from the unconscious. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is having an influential path, uh, factor in your behavior, which is leading to these outcomes. And so what I, I invite the client to do is to sit and see the addictive patterns and allow themself to not just fall under the guise and the label of the addiction that's brought, brought them before me, but also to see themself, see yourself drunk.
Speaker 2: What do you see? What do you feel? What do you think when you are in that state of mind? What are you feeling? What are the memories, the thoughts, the what does it feel to be embodied while you're under the influence? And you start realizing, they start connecting. I'm angry, I'm frustrated, I, uh, I have flashbacks of times of better times, great times. And it's not, it's, it's not what it used to be. So it sounds like grief, it sounds like loss. It sounds like, uh, you know, uh, disconnect. That you can't be authentic and genuine and that's causing, uh, disregulation in your thoughts, in your emotions. And you don't like to be in your skin when you go to family because it reminds you of your shortcomings. And as we're having these conversations, yes, they're doing exploration within themself, and then they realize at the end of session, you know, or how many sessions, uh, we have, it's like, oh my gosh, there is stuff here. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, once you become aware, you can go into denial. But once you become aware, you can't go back to being, uh, you, you, you can't go back to being unconscious. Mm. Once you become aware, you either go into denial or you do something about it.
Speaker 1: Okay. So would you say like, this is where a depth psychology approach would be a little different? Is that you are really framing it as exploring the self then because I Correct. I feel like there's this heavy focus on, you know, everybody else. Does that make sense? That's how I feel it anyway. Yes. As sort of an observer and, you know, having somebody in my family that struggles with this. And so you're allowing space to like almost linger in the experience. And would you say that, and a lot of times that sort of gets skipped over that like,
Speaker 2: Well, we, we tend to, let's modify the behavior. Let's look at risks to self. Let's look at what are the behaviors that are gonna continue keeping in the community. You need to drop clean urine analysis. You need to drop, blow, clean uas. You need to blow in the breathalyzers. These are all behaviors. We are told what to do, do, do. Okay. We are not human doers. We're human beings. We need to learn how to be with our emotions, be with our thoughts, be with our wounds, be with our, our shortcomings, our heart. And from there, if we wanna see behavior modification, we need to accept deal, tend to these parts of ourselves, and then look into the behavior. We have it completely opposite.
Speaker 1: Right.
Speaker 2: Okay. Completely opposite.
Speaker 1: And, and that sort of leads me to just, and again, this is like my personal question, but about, um, you know, about, uh, programs such as aa, so somebody can choose to do that on their own, right? And, and for a lot of people that works really well. It's community. There's a support, you have a sponsor. I, I know there's like a religious component because one of the first steps is to realize the power that alcohol has over you or, or the addictive substance that doesn't work for a lot of people. And, and so, and especially I was thinking that a lot of might even have a religious wound, right? And then they're supposed to go to this like, aa this community where the source of your wound is what you have to like surrender to. Does that make sense? I was just thinking about like, and I don't know if there are other sorts of groups that, that align and that are effective. So I don't know, just your thoughts about, about that.
Speaker 2: I'm glad you're bringing that up. And one of the things that I wanna bring up, and I don't know if you're aware of this, um, the, the founder of AA would write letters to you. Yes. So, and so there's that connect, that union connection. I think one of the key things that Yung brought to the plate is the higher sense of self. The higher power, the higher. And so when, when we, the conversations that were had between him and the, um, the, the creator of aa, um, and, uh, and Al-Anon and a c a, you start realizing that there is this higher sense of self. And if you don't subscribe to a Judeo-Christian, um, uh, belief system, you have, I, I really appreciate the 12 steps because they say as, um, God, as you understand that to be for you, it can be, uh, for example, for me for a minute there, um, when I would understand my higher power, my higher power is 90 year old Alex on his deathbed that is Alex, who has been individuated or is still working towards individuation and looking back at, you know, 43 year old Alex and saying, take it easy, take it slow, this too shall pass.
Speaker 2: Trust the process. So my higher sense of self is 83, 93 year old Alex. It doesn't necessarily have to be God. Does that make sense?
Speaker 1: Y oh yes, that makes sense for me. But I think that, uh, uh, I think that overall a eight does not communicate that very well. Now, I'm not an expert at it at all, but most people will project that onto God. Now, if God is actually a wounding figure for that person, you know, the, you know, it is, there is this higher sense within us that's connected to something out there, but we don't have to label it God. But if you go to like a typical AA meeting, there's gonna be a lot of, you know, people who are calling it the Christian God, which you know, is going. So anyway, I really, yeah, I really appreciate you sharing that and
Speaker 2: I appreciate you saying that cuz I want to really reiterate the subjective perspective versus Yes. The dogmatic perspective.
Speaker 1: Yes. Yes.
Speaker 2: And so when you come into, uh, a circle, let's say a faith, and they really, they, they, they present a higher power. A hi, uh, God, as you understand them, you have the right to subscribe to your subjective perspective regardless of what other people believe. Cuz other people do come into with objective per, uh, a dogmatic perspective where mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I, I'll, I'll be the first one to say, I grew up in a family in a, in a environment of a, a God that sits on the cloud with a lightning rod waiting for you to mess up and struck you. And that's not my interpretation of my higher power. That is not my higher power. Right? I don't subscribe to that anymore. And so that is my subjective perspective. And so when I think about my higher sense of self, it is defined by me and my personal experience. And I have been through that, uh, that wounding, if you may, um, uh, the dogmatic wounding. And because of, uh, coming from a place of healing, I can now say, you know what? My subjective perspective of higher power is what's important to me, regardless of what other people projectors say. Does that make sense?
Speaker 1: Oh, yes. Works.
Speaker 2: Thank you. That's what works best. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Thank you very much. So this brings me to the collective lens. And I love James Hillman. I suspect you do too. Yes. Cause you love archetypal psychology. Yes. And how it challenges the therapy field. And for my listeners, one book you might enjoy is, we've had a hundred years of therapy and the world is getting worse. And it really does offer a great framework, an imaginative, subjective framework that you can apply to your own personal development work. So, you know, basically he says, we have personalized, uh, every issue, every personal issue, it's your fault, the individual. Or maybe we can blame the mother or the father of the generation be before. But personal addiction exists within the context of the collective in which we live. And the way I see it, we're in the process of a huge dismantling of patriarchal, one side of masculine systems.
Speaker 1: And some of us, like me, are hurrying that along because it's a good thing others are resisting digging in their heels, and it's manifesting as extreme, rigid, even violent ideas. And then there's everybody in the middle filled with anxiety about what will take the place of these systems that are crumbling. So, and I, I suspect that addiction is a growing phenomenon. So how can we look at addiction through this collective lens? It actually could bring relief to look at it through a collective lens, right? And how can we put the personal addiction into a larger context? And then a good question, what's the deeper meaning of addiction? And what are addicts mirroring back to us? Right? So we wanna like say, oh, they're bad, they're addicts. But really what is it that they're mirroring back to us that we need to be exploring?
Speaker 2: You know? Uh, and this is where I'm gonna get really into my, my archetypal him. I love Hillman, love, love, yay. Hillman Campbell, um, uh, VA Franz, um, you name it. Uh, the, the, um, so I go back to what I said previously. We live in a culture where in order for you to be successful, you have to do things to gain, to gain, um, prestige. You have to, um, be competitions. You need, how many likes do you have? You need to do, you know, pay, uh, post a picture. And, um, everything's on doing, doing, doing, doing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we are addictive to doing things. I'm busy, busy, busy, busy. I have to do this, I have to do that. That is all based on the masculine. We are emasculated in everything. We have to do things to get reputation, do things to be accepted, do things to be rewarded.
Speaker 2: And the feminine has to do with it being, being pending, creating. And so when we look at, um, us taking some time off for us to sit with ourselves just being sick. When we are sick physically, we have to rest, sleep, be with our bodies, be with our sleep, and recover. We are in addiction. Has we af even, um, post covid addiction increased significantly because we don't know what to do when we have to be with ourselves. We baked, I mean, baking went up like crazy. Alcoholism went like crazy. We saw the, the, the substance use increase. Why? Because we were forced to sit down, you know, Gaia mother Earth, whatever you believe, higher power. God said, you know what? Humanity you are so into the masculine and doing, doing, doing, we're gonna shut down. And what happens when you tell a kid who's used to being active to sit down and be mm-hmm.
Speaker 2: A board, <laugh> a board, or they're gonna come fidgety, or they're gonna, they're gonna try to do things because they can't contain themselves. They don't know how to regulate. They don't know how to be in existence with their thoughts, with their emotions. And so when you think about, um, archetypal psychology, we start looking at what is it about you that's showing up? Is it the inner child? Is it the, um, you know, uh, the, the wounded child? Is it, you know, what, what is showing up right now? And how is it showing up in your body? You know, I'm breaking out in hives. I have a, a a friend of mine that when she gets stressed and she's breaking out in hives, she goes, what said, what is your body asking of you? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I need to take some time off. I need to rest.
Speaker 2: I need to calm down. I need to exercise. You need to be with yourself. You need to tend to yourself. That's so what, so the caretaker, there's the archetype, the caretaker, the mother has to come in. Mm. So that archetype, you need to connect with that archetype within you so that it can bring forth the healing. And so when we talk about archetype of psychology, it's, it's the dualism, you know, where there's the masculine, there's the feminine. When there's the light, there is the dark. And so when we think about the, the archetype that shows up, it shows with the shadow, and it shows with the light, and it's gonna show up in consciousness charged. That's the key thing charged. So when we look at addiction, when we look at addictive behaviors, unhealthy patterns that are showing up in our presence, and we know that we're getting charged with somebody's reaction the way they looked at me, something's going on unconsciously within certain parts of me. Does that make sense?
Speaker 1: Oh yes. Absolutely. And I love, again, the question, asking ourselves questions, whatever it is that's coming up. Huh? What is that asking of me? Let me have a dialogue with it. And I've been doing these YouTube mini lessons about how to have a dialogue with anxiety, because there's purpose to anxiety. It does want something. And in one of my experiences, dialogues with my anxiety, it basically, the answer came out in the form of a poem that had to do with anxiety is about uncertainty, about what is going to happen. But guess what? New ideas come out of the unknown. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so one of the ways to look at all this collective anxiety is that it's ripe for something to be allowed to come out of us that will change the way that we're experiencing life as a human being. And if we only try to repress whatever it is, we're like postponing this unleashing of something that's going to be new and better. Yeah.
Speaker 2: You know, uh, right now, as you were talking, I get, I get the image of, uh, uh, I thi I think it's Hollis or Hillman, um, uh, the Soles code. Um, and oh yes, acorn, the acorn, the analogy of mm-hmm. <affirmative> Acorn. That here we are in a world where we have these thick, um, barriers to not deal with our core issues. And the acorn cannot become the oak tree until it breaks its shell. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there are things that are gonna happen in our life collectively. Synchronicity, things are gonna align perfectly so that your shell can break, whether it be your ego, whether it you, your barriers, whatever it may be. But the ultimate goal and result is for you to grow into that oak tree that you were meant to be. We were not meant to be these little acorns forever.
Speaker 1: It's like the ultimate compensation, the one side of masculine, because the one side of masculine has to know. But if we're creating something new or allowing something new to unleash, uh, that's the realm of the feminine. It is unknown. It's meandering, it's mysterious. And so there, it almost feels like collectively we're being pushed to be like, okay, I give up. Just whatever. Let's do it. <laugh>.
Speaker 2: And, and, and that's the key piece with the feminine. We have to surrender. And part of surrendering is letting go of ego. I don't know what's gonna come, but I trust that whatever's gonna come is gonna serve me. I don't know what's gonna happen when I break my shell, but everything around me is asking me to break the shell. And I can't see 10 years from now be becoming that oak tree. But I gotta trust and surrender and allow the breaking to happen so that this shell can turn into, uh, so that this shell can break and I can evolve, uh, go through the alchemy process, the alchemical process of the oak becoming the oak tree.
Speaker 1: Yes. I love it. So you could just see how our conversation even shifted from kind of the masculine to the feminine. We've been meandering between the two of them. And the feminine realm is really so much more fun.
Speaker 2: <laugh>, and this, and this is foreign. This is so foreign. We have, in our society and our culture, we have emasculated our culture and have forgotten about the feminine. And so from the, the, uh, when we talk from a soulful place, there needs to be balance. There needs to be balance. And so things will happen to bring forth the balance. And here we are, um, you know, when, when it gets too, uh, overbearing one side, some, something has to happen to bring things into alignment and bring things into balance.
Speaker 1: Yeah. And we're seeing that now. So, oh, fun. So one more question. Um, CG Yung talked about myth or story, the personal myth. And when larger myths, for example, the Christian myth or the Christian framework breaks down and no longer captures the hearts and imagination of its followers, there's a gap and it will get filled in. And the gap can be exploited by conspiracy theorists, for example, or addictions or other rigid views. And it's really all the purposes to help people feel grounded, right? So it's not like you're evil. It's like you just look for a way to feel grounded. And then there are others who can manage this space between the rejected myth and the yet to be developed new myth or framework, but only because they sort of have a framework to actually deal with that space. And another yian analyst that I love is Edward Edinger, and he talks about, uh, those for whom religious myths just don't work.
Speaker 1: And once they don't work, you can't go back. And I'm known to repeat over and over again to my listeners, that CG Young suggested that the fate of humanity depends upon the self-reflecting individual. And the way I see it now is part of my purpose. Millions of us are self-reflecting during this time of dismantling, going deeper, coming into relationship with our personal and conscious, which then opens the doorway to the archetypal energies that want to flow through us and express the new ways. And as more and more of us reflect in this way, someone new, something new will eventually coalesce, but we won't see it until it begins to take form. So that means there's a lot of anxiety in the meantime. So, um, so you mentioned you love personal myths. So I was just wondering, like, when could you kind of see how this personal myth was taking shape? And are you like me, where I'm like, I still feel like I have no idea like what I'm gonna be doing in the next year. And so where are you with your personal myth right now?
Speaker 2: I think with me, um, my myth, my personal myth has evolved and developed who I was Deb in 2016, and who I am today, totally different person. I, I feel that my myth, my introduction, my initiation into dev psychology through the conduit of Pacifica prepared me. I got the theory to understand the experience.
Speaker 1: Yes.
Speaker 2: <laugh>, does that make sense? Me?
Speaker 1: Oh, yes. I lived it too. Yes. <laugh>
Speaker 2: Pacifica gave me the recipe book and, uh, said, you got your recipe book, and now go and let the world give you the ingredients.
Speaker 1: Go make a stew.
Speaker 2: Go make a stew. And let me tell you, I've made, I burned some stews, <laugh> I've made some mistakes. But in the process, um, I, I'll give this analogy, which, because I absolutely use it a lot with emdr, with my clinicians and people that I, I consult with, is that, um, when we start cooking lasagna, we follow it to the tea with the recipe. Like, and then with time, the more you do it, the more experienced, the less you use the recipe and you sta add, add more of your flavor, a little more oregano, a little more sausage, a little bit more cheese. And it starts becoming, it's, if it goes from being, uh, uh, protocol strict to a gift, and so it comes, it doesn't, it doesn't have to go to, I have to follow and do it to the tea. No. Now I feel it.
Speaker 2: Now I see it. Now I live it. And I feel that my myth was go to Pacifica and I haven't finished yet. I still have to go back and finish. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I had, I had to go to Pacifica to get the recipe book and then come out to the world and implement the recipes and cook and feed the children, feed the individual, the masses. And now I'm very well, I get it. I see the synchronicity, I see the alignment, I see the purpose of why I had to go do this first and then go to, to, to build this solid. Cuz it was a need. I needed to step away because the agency was growing so much. And now that I have union, um, uh, licensed addiction counselors, licensed professional counselor who subscribed to the lens, it really has helped me, my myth to become even more, um, real. Like I am evolving even more. And my myth has evolved now to being a teacher, a trainer, a facilitator, a soul tender, and a storyteller. A storyteller.
Speaker 1: Well, and also Alex yourself capital S is behind the scenes because you needed to go back probably in order to inform your research topics, right? Like the research topic that wants to be explored, it presents itself to you. Right? Right. So I I I love it. And that was a per the lasagna was a perfect metaphor for this tension between universal, sort of like who we are as, uh, part of humanity as a collective. And then what is our unique expression of that. So I loved it. Like, here's the recipe, here's what we all have in common. But it is my purpose, right? To unfold and to individuate and into something that's uniquely me. That was just, I love it. I'm gonna use lasagna <laugh>.
Speaker 2: Yes, please use it. And, you know, here, and just to add a little bit more, I, the, all the good, the bad, the ugly, the challenging, uh, that I went through, um, as a student and just finding myself in Pacifica, cuz you know, I went through a, a, a, a, a breakup mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, pretty much a divorce. Um, that all, even that prepared me for who I am and where I am.
Speaker 1: Oh, yes. Don't, wouldn't you say like, that was sort of the purpose of that encounter, like the purpose of my marriage, which eventually unraveled. It's like all part of the deal, all part of the recipe.
Speaker 2: Yeah. It all is synchronistic and it all aligns for the higher, for your individuation process. And that's why you have to trust and always allow yourself to come into balance and, and heal those different parts of yourself so that you can move forth in your, you're becoming. Yes.
Speaker 1: Beautiful. Alex, this has been amazing. A great combination of feminine meandering and creativity, balanced with masculine specifics. Uh, share with my listeners what's next for you where they can learn more about your work, if you want followers, where they should do that to keep up on your journey, like, you know, get podcast f uh, arti articles and interviews, things like that.
Speaker 2: You can, I have actually, so I have my agency, my, um, life recovery centers. So if you wanna look up, there's a director's, uh, corner there. Um, you have all, if you're in Colorado, you can have access to, um, any of our, our services in the state of Colorado. Um, but if you wanna have any, I've done a whole bunch of podcasts. I'm, I'm honored and humbled. Um, I've done, um, news, um, I've done news articles, magazine articles as well. You can see firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, life Recovery Centers is plural.net. And, um, I also do, where am I going? Is consulting. I've been doing a lot of consulting, a lot of training on soulful. I mean, I'm, I'm honored and I'll share this with you. I just got back from Baltimore training, f b i victim advocates on personal myth on survivors sex trafficking. Whoa. And how to work with survivors of sex trafficking with their myth and how not to, you know, how to be more cautious on the soul tending work that they have. And so my, um, so I'm doing a lot of training of law enforcement, a lot of training of clinicians. I have never thought I was gonna expand in this area, but I'm grateful and I'm just doing a lot of training in the states. So if they want to get in touch with me through consulting, they can reach email@example.com. And, um, and so it's Alex Castro, um, Alex Castro Croix on Facebook, um, or at Life Recovery Centers on Facebook. Or you can, um, contact me on Alex Castro on, um, Instagram or Life Recovery Centers on Instagram as well.
Speaker 1: And I will put all those links in my description box and oh my gosh, more to talk about when it comes to that sex trafficking and soul. Cause that's the ultimate killing of a soul. Anyway, no, a whole nother, uh, topic. But thank you so much, Alex, for a conversation full of depth and a new lens through which to consider the very serious topic of addiction and trauma.
Speaker 2: Thank you for having me. Yes.
Speaker 1: I'm your host, Debra Lukic, and you are listening to Dose of Depth podcast To get updates on new episodes, my writing and how I teach my clients to get to know that deeper part of themselves, go to deborah lukic.com Oh. And if you're not ready for a coach, learn what my clients know in my book. Your Soul is talking. Are you listening Five Steps to Uncovering Your Hidden Purpose. You can check it out on my website or get it on Amazon.