Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 24, 2010

. . . And I Am a . . . What the Hell Am I?

      It as been a challenge to stay food abstinent as I work my second program. It’s hard to talk bluntly about the second program because I am anxious about that one–admitting I could be an addict of sex or love.

      Well, I’m not a sex addict, in the purest sense of the addiction. For some reason, my Higher Power gave me a wonderful gift in my husband long before I was ready to appreciate what I have (though my social anorexia is based on knowing this, oddly enough). My relationship with him is the one I want. To be blunt (as hard as it is about this particular addiction), starting an intimate relationship with a man is a disappointment. It took years to cultivate this intimacy. No man or woman in the world could measure up to what I have currently, and it would take years to even get near to possibly recreating the quality of intimate life I have found. Experience has shown this. My intimate life before him was chaotic at best, and it was where I found my deepest self-loathing. There was a price to pay for getting out of that horrifying misery, and I transferred addictions to keep what I want–as well as paid the price of intense loneliness and addictive coping mechanisms.
      Something that does not surprise me at all is that addicts tend to have multiple addictions. Some are easier to bring around (like the food addiction has been for me); some are intensely difficult to bring around (like the social anorexia). What I am finding is that they are intertwined. Alcohol, drugs, food . . . they all are used to cover the pain of the source addiction, to hide behind layers of addictive armor to keep the core addiction from running rampant and leaving a swath of emotional and physical destruction akin to American Civil War General Sherman’s march to the sea.
      The stress of real life has sucked yet has opened and revealed this particular addiction to me. My husband, as the primary (and only) breadwinner, is miserable and trapped in his career. He has to stay in this Hell to make our ends meet. I feel deep guilt because I rely on him entirely. This triggers the primary addiction, and the result is that I choose loneliness because the companionship I would be seeking is based from manipulation. That loneliness triggers the alternate addiction–compulsive overeating.
      The struggles I face involve aging in a youth-worshipping society and the desire to achieve a level of financial stability that would allow my husband’s freedom. However, indulging in that would make my husband’s freedom the ultimate one–he would leave the marriage. I would want him to leave it, too. That betrayal is unforgivable to me, and knowing I did it would be horrifying. That self-realization keeps me at arm’s length from people. I choose isolation rather than betray someone I have deep compassion and love for. I really do believe I love my husband, something that has developed in the last few years and over the last year, especially. I did things for him to keep him in the first years of our marriage, trying to keep a tit-for-tat balance.
      After OA, I found the sense of wanting to do for him simply because it brings me joy and makes me feel human. I get as much out of doing for him as he does, and that love (instead of the “I’ll do this then you do that” attitude) apparently brings the love I sought from him. Giving honestly and with no need for reimbursement has opened his own honest, generous giving with no need for reimbursement from me. He strives to make me happy, and I don’t owe him to work this strange social addiction. I don’t owe anyone, and it makes me want to do it for my sanity so I can grow a stronger relationship with a man who makes me feel loved.
      So, I have real love. I have the sex life I want. What’s wrong, then?
      I don’t trust other people, which really comes down to a lack of self-trust. What others think and do is outside of my control. In OA, I had to learn that and accept it gracefully (and eventually graciously, as I realized through OA that I didn’t want to control others–it’s exhausting!). I blamed the rest of the world for my inability (read: choice) to control my own desire for intrigue and manipulation in order to secure a life without suffering. Ironically, that desire for intrigue and manipulation assures a life of suffering. That’s how I know it’s an addiction–the solution I seek to end my suffering is the core of my suffering. I ate to numb myself to life and found myself in a body which was painful to look at and live in, which caused me to eat more to numb the pain of seeing the body I looked at and lived in. I seek intrigue to assure myself I am desirable enough to be lovable and found myself hating the woman I am during those times, which caused me to seek more intrigue at the pain of hating the woman I am during those times to reassure myself I am lovable. Definitely a cycle, definitely broken.
      Acting on it is something in my long past. I once did follow through and held tight to the person in desperation. That desperation drove the person I had ensnared away. Sometimes it was because the person only sought temporary company; sometimes, because they liked me until I became obsessed (with all of the jealousy and fear attached with it). When I married my husband, it became an inner life, and the people faded out of my life as I chose to walk away rather than work to create relationships with boundaries.
      I still have no boundaries I know of besides abandonment and the indulgence in the obsession to drive the person away. Use what works, my broken brain tells me. Get the fix from the chase and capture then drive the person away instead of following through. I don’t know if it’s the compassionate self or the fear self, but I choose loneliness over the potential for a person getting just deep enough into my psyche that I sacrifice the good in my life for something so bad (and temporary). I mean, I know a good man would never look at me twice once he knows I’m married, even if he was interested (which I am finding no one is).
      That leaves the users and fellow addicts. Sacrificing the good in my life for them makes me miserable even thinking about it. Even my addict’s brain thinks, “Why the Hell would I downgrade! Upgrade, baby. Upgrade!”
      This addiction is insane. The small sanity I have obtained from working OA has made it clear how completely nuts the other addiction is.
      This new addiction wants me to seek someone who has more financial stability but recognizes a man more financially stable man would (a) be decent enough never to pursue a married woman, (b) be indecent enough to pursue married or unmarried arm candy instead, or (c) already be married and content with what he has. And then the horror of even thinking this drives me into my hair shirt and monastic isolation in the tower of my mind.
      I think my lack of deep friendships with women has the core answer. I am terrified of betrayal, and I have been left behind so many times by female friends. Worse, I now recognize how many times I left female friends behind to pursue my addiction. I betrayed them, abandoning them when the next thrill came along. As a loving human being, why would I create a friendship only to screw a person over like that!
      The broken brain doesn’t seem to recognize that I am in a relationship that would encourage having a friend like that (because there’s no one to abandon her for). I have my marriage, which I want. There’s no man who I am compelled to pursue out there to exclude a female friend from my life over when my addiction goes full tilt. The worst that could happen is that I end up with a woman who is as broken as me and who pursues my husband then gets rebuffed by him and I am brokenhearted that she tried. I do attract broken people–probably a combination of compassion and empathy. I am broken, too. I know the suffering. I apparently have a face that people who are working through addictions (or living in deep denial of them yet are intensely miserable) seek out to talk to.
      There’s chaos in my mind right now as I work through the scattered chunks of blame and excuses and messages. There is a social war zone in my head, complete with rubble-strewn hot spots and the lamenting and horrified screaming. Well, it’s not literally like that. If it were, I would hope that I would be walked into an institution for medication and intensive therapy.
      However, the allegory is correct. I have these messages strewn everywhere, blocks of a Tower that has partially crumbled. Nothing is connected; nothing really makes sense. That’s the addiction, right there–a life in ruins.
      I don’t want to rebuild the Tower, however. Those messages strewn around I want taken away by my Higher Power (HP willing) so I can appreciate the vast and cleared plain where I can look up hopefully at the stars and feel the awe and beauty of the Universe and real freedom. Instead of putting up defensive walls, I want to stand in the wide and beautiful world as me and trust that I am so much a part of this Universe (as my HP has already offered me glimpses of through serenity through OA and gifts of reconnection with good people in my life) that I can be my own tower. I may look like a solitary and defenseless human being on that plain, but I am not. I have my Higher Power all around me–in the land, air, sky, and stars above. And within me. Most importantly, within me.
      The boundary of isolation I have built out of addiction is killing me. I am a social human being requiring real interaction with people. I need at least one friend who I can develop a friendship with and trust that person will be healthy enough to not try to decimate my relationship with myself, my Higher Power, or my spouse. I have hope that it can happen because I am working toward normalization. Just like with the food addiction, I will always have that admission (which I have no words for as of yet) of the manifestation of this addiction to remind me I am one compulsive thought from one compulsive act from acting on that addiction.
      I remember this chaos from the start of my OA, and it engenders and grows the seed of hope. The chaos does get cleared away, layer by layer. Practicing a life of abstinence (or withdrawal, this time) from my addictive behavior will bring the serenity and sanity. I mean, I found sanity in OA, and when the current issues weren’t at the fore, I found real sanity from my addictions–until the social anorexia/addiction took hold and began to wear me down again. I am going to find this. I am going to find sanity and serenity if I work this program, too, and its grip will lose its intense hold. I already have had some shoulder-hunching, back-bowing surrender to my Higher Power over it–prayer to be released from its grip. I have even had a little relief and some guidance. Now all I need is time and faith and learning about myself and this particular addiction . . . one day at a time.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict and am currently an addict of intrigue and manipulation. I am learning about my SLAA-related addiction slowly, and my brain is fighting it. One last hurrah, it wants. No. Just like overeating, the footwork began the moment I walked in the room. I’m leaving that life behind, working it consciously for the rest of my life so I can fill my life with soul-nourishing relationships–just as I have worked toward a life of soul-nourishing eating habits.

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