Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 13, 2013

There and Back Again: An Addict’s Holiday

      Okay, I am in full admission here that I was Human do-ing to avoid human being. Foodwise? Still abstinent. SLAA and CoDA? Avoiding people and avoiding emotions to control the world intellectually and being sick with a cold. However . . . I wrote six novels since November.

      This doesn’t include the year of finishing the snarky women’s lit series, landing at 25 or 26 books in the whole series and spending the first half of the year hand-writing a series which could end up being 20 more books when I turn them into novels. To put this in perspective, I have drafted around 40 books since 2003, published two, and am preparing to release those 25 snarky romantic-comedy-with-personal-journey books as one buck one-shots. Plus, I have two series which are only series notes. If there was ever a question that I am a writer (good or bad, doesn’t matter)? No question.
      I write prolifically and publish reluctantly.
     
      After leaving novelspace yesterday with book notes for the rest of a current-era science fiction/fantasy series (adding another six, I think), I got into my journal again and wrote 14 pages in my journal about recovery and my journey through addiction. As I meandered through the action steps of using “I” messages and using the proper verbs for which part of my whole self a concept applies (I AM for physical experience, I THINK for mental experience, I FEEL for emotional experience, and/or I BELIEVE for spiritual experience), I got into that unpleasant reality that I developed what is considered part of the problem with autistic and ADD children. I can’t gauge feelings properly, so I’m struggling to intellectually recover. Intellectual recovery, of course, is the art of keeping my addicted defenses up to avoid feeling it to heal it. This is the full-blown addict playing at recovery, and it’s a miserable state of denial to be in.
      That is how I can have three years and a few months of food abstinence yet am completely at a loss with the SLAA and CoDA. As for my CoDA recovery? I’m in a situation which I put ahead of me before I even entered a CoDA room absolutely lost because a mentor of mine died suddenly: a life-altering change of residence. Lots of guilt on that, having him ID my SLAA and CoDA core issues less than a week before he died. No real chance to self-care at the CoDA level, where the first year of recovery is when we are to retreat to self-care and not make any huge life changes.
      Stress? Has helped me hold on to this cold since I was thrown off my grandiose “I finally managed the holidays with my amazing self-controlled skills!” horsie with a cold that’s ridden me like a pony-riding trick monkey wearing a little cowboy outfit. Every time I think it’s going to dismount? Still on my back it rides, hitting me with its little stick and chittering in monkey-ese that it’ll keep riding me until I actually take the time to self-care beyond the moment I feel good enough to start overclocking myself to earn the approval of the people in my life.
      Well, I have a great book by Dr. David Viscott that I found (very marked up with dark blue highlighter pen, which makes it a hard-to-read book) which is very much so out-of-print entitled The Language of Feelings. In it, I think I got a potential logical reason why I get overwhelmed by any loss. Dr. Viscott writes about the three major kinds of loss–control, lovability, and self-esteem. Each loss has its special response. He explains it as a person losing one and how that person responds to the loss as a full-out assault on that one loss. Well, I hit on an idea (seeing as I related to all three kinds of loss-reactions):If any loss can trigger in one person a sense of personal lack of control (being turned into a child or a chaotic force, I suppose), in another person the incontrovertible proof of unlovability, yet in another person the toxic shame spiral of sub-human unworthiness? That person would surely be overwhelmed by being assaulted from three directions psychically from within.
      Every loss, I hypothesize, in a person who has been traumatized into losing all three will send three inner judges clamoring and screaming the panic and self-abuse messages at the inner self. And this happens every single time that the beautiful lie (expectation) is shown as fantasy by the ugly truth (reality). Every loss, insignificant or life-changing becomes a life-altering event which is carried forward like a heavy oak wardrobe on the back. Even better? It’s not just one wardrobe. A stack of them piling up, being filled with sports equiment and heavy winter clothing and the ugly sweaters we want to return but cannot because of guilt or an inability to return them (All Sales Final or Handmade by Grandma). Burdened again and again by little losses and big losses we should be able to put down in a healthy grieving process, there is no pleasure whatsoever in life. So, we turn to pain relief in whatever way we can.
      We become addicts.
     
      The title of this post has to do with a mental meandering based on a self-realization from a book I read when I was eight. Why eight? Because it was an adventure, I was using books to get away, and it was familiar to me already because my family was made up of J.R.R. Tolkien fans. In December 2012 (before the world did not end on the winter solstice), the first of the trilogy of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit (An Unexpected Journey) came out in theaters, and it brought up a childhood escape I adored and retreated to again and again. I loved the 1939-released literary adventure of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit who lived under a hill in a neat and tidy little hole in the ground which, of course, meant comfort.
      He leaves that comfortable place and grows as a being until he is ready to face a dragon and be caught up in a war of five armies. Every step of the journey leads him to a return home where he goes from fully respectable Baggins to a quirky Baggins who has a definite touch of Took in him.
      And, of course, who returns home with the greatest evil of Middle Earth: The One Ring.
     
      The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy, released over a year in 1954 and 1955, was insurmountable for me as a book series until after the Peter Jackson film trilogy came out. I knew the plot, knew the story, understood it and had even seen the 1978 Ralph Bakshi film in theaters and watched the 1980 Rankin-Bass Return of the King’s prime time television premier on ABC. So, yes, J.R.R. Tolkien’s grand epic has been a part of my childhood through adulthood. And yes, I own DVDs of the two Rankin-Bass releases, the Bakshi movie (which I trot out to the uninitiated, just because it is very . . . Ralph Bakshi), and the Peter Jackson LOTR trilogy. No Middle Earth jewlery or swords or souvenir collectibles. Just the artistic re-imaginings to go with the 1967 hardbound LOTR trilogy my father kept in his library. Oh, and the Silmarillion, first printing. Oh, and a book my father also had in his library from the Silmarillion craze: The Individuated Hobbit. It is a psychological treatise which honestly can be passed over for Jung’s actual work on archetypes or The Hero with A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Long gone, however, is the Middle Earth Mural puzzle done by Barbara Remington my mother had. My father had the Ballantine paperbacks to go with it, though time and use made them so dog-eared that the covers did eventually fall off from use–since the hardbounds were set aside as a treasured part of my father’s library. Those and the poster of William Blake’s “God Creating the Universe” and the actual Eames chair he had in the corner of the study which had his astronomer-grandfather’s heavy desk in front of a window most often shaded by two heavy woven curtains. Two walls of filled 6-foot bookshelves (and piles of books about, as well, the overflow between the study and the walk-in closet my parents had which rivaled a few bedrooms I’ve owned) are where I return to as the essence of what it is to be part of my family, as defined by the patriarch’s inner sanctum. And I consider that I don’t think I was ever yelled at in there. Oh, I faced off with shaming because of my grades, yes, but this was still (especially when my parents were out of the house) the one place of stillness and repose. It was a spiritual place for an intellectual. And that, as any literary hermit holing up on holiday in a book knows, means comfort.
      The books are, were, and will always be the centerpiece of the collection of my personal history, and the comfort of that church of intellectual musings both non-fiction and fiction where solitude was the norm.
     
      Unfortunately, as lovely as it would be to talk about how I wander the world as the simple and hopeful gardener sidekick (as I once perhaps did), I was hit with an unhappy thought when it comes to how I relate to people in the addiction as related to a recognized character of the grand epic saga of men and elves and wizards and hobbits and lost rings of power which can unmake the world and send it tailspinning into despair and suffering.
      In the addiction, I’m an ambush predator. I live apart in the dark thoughts of my own head. Anyone who (and once any food which) lands in my zone of predation is considered part of the menu to fulfill that hunger.
      So, uh, not Sam. Not even Frodo or Bilbo.
     
      Nope. I relate completely with Gollum, the sorry creature addicted to his precious ring of power.
     
      I consider the introduction of Gollum in the heart of the mountain. Such a vivid villain, drawn as a monastic predator of the dark. My addiction is my precious–the perceived power to skulk in the darkness waiting for unfortunates to fall from their lofty (though still cave-living) heights into the heart of darkness. The history of Smeagol, introduced in the later works, gives the history of an innocent tainted. The longing for control, for love, for self-worth encapsulated in the whisperings in the dark. The ability to hide as observer of life, waiting. Tortured by a greater evil to divulge what I experienced. But always that hunger to be reunited with my precious, my addiction. Believing it will bring me happiness, when, as the literary epic shows, only ever brings this creature suffering. The thrill of wanting to touch that power at any cost is part of my waking and sometimes sleeping life.
      In recovery, I am living a half-life as Frodo, walking my addiction along the twelve steps to Mount Doom. The burden is great, and the fellowship–even if they are not present standing beside me–is always there to support this journey from becoming fused with the darkness. With the belief I can rise above. But there’s always a greater power seeking it, as well.
      I think of Sauron, of the greatest addict still in addiction. Even Sauron was brought down by the ring, when it was taken from him by force. Every being who has touched the power of the darkness, who has thought it is the path to perfection and ultimate power (through subjugation of beings just wanting to thrive) knows the agony of this both inescapable and transient addiction when it and we are united, parted, reunited. Time parts me from the people I can victimize, take advantage of. If I want the addiction, I have to become an active hunter of it. But at my heart, I exist at the heart of the mountain during a time when the pickings were easier. And when I lost the illusion that I could live without regrets and could achieve control, love, and self-esteem externally? I lost the precious and had to leave the discomfort of a world I had lied to myself about. It was dark and cold and lonely when I was living in my “precious” addiction. Always.
      So, where’s the Higher Power in all this? In the story, we find Gandalf starting as neutral and becoming a force of good. So, in the end, when the world seems lost and Frodo has given in to the hunger to possess the ring and feel the power, himself? That relapse creates such a loss (in the story, it’s a finger; in life, it’s the shame and regret of acting on the addiction knowing it is a pushbutton thrill that leaves me more empty than before) when the inner Gollum gets away with the precious and falls to its unmaking in Mt. Doom. Then, sure I will die without the false feelings that the addiction is what truly living feels like, I start down the mountain to at least end recovered. In come the great eagles, the Higher Power, to lift me to healing.
      Healed doesn’t mean returned to innocence. Frodo leaves his home (in my case, that childhood) for far shores (in my case, day-to-day life as a recovered and self-responsible adult) always knowing that journey will be a part of me. A hard journey. A painful journey. A journey which tests courage, strength, and wisdom to their fullest. Empathy with Gollum instead of being Gollum. Empathy with understanding the power of the addiction, of the precious I tried to carry on a straight path yet ended up in darker places of greater danger than I had experienced before.
      And now I’m meandering.
     
      So, yes, I feel like Gollum when I indulge fully the addict life. I live in darkness waiting for the opportunity to do harm. I perceive I have lost control of my life. I perceive am loathed and cast out from the world of life and love. I perceive I am beyond hopeless in the heart of darkness, perverted by the power of the addiction into an evil and unworthy creature unrecognizable and disgusting to any living, loving, thinking being.
      But that’s just thought in metaphor of the twentieth century epic novelizations written by J.R.R. Tolkien and made into a twenty-first century epic film saga by Peter Jackson.
      It’s a hero’s journey to enter recovery and admit, “I will take responsibility for my addiction, though I do not know the way.” And though it is a clear path from Step One to Step Twelve, there are challenges and diversions and my very self fights to return to the self-delusion life was better when I acted out the addiction.
      Every person who accepts the burden of carrying the addiction to its destruction and live outside of it one day at a time consciously is a hero. And I guess, to quote the pre-internet meme of the 60’s and 70’s: “Frodo Lives!”
     
      Faith in slim hope that one person can make a difference against an insurmountable darkness . . . isn’t that what the journey through program and in recovery is about?
     
      My name is Jess. Food addict having less trouble with compulsive overeating now that the love addiction and anorexia and codependency addiction are at the fore. The anorexia . . . well, I eat between minimums and maximums. The onion is being peeled, though I am still deep in the social and emotional anorexia and definitely hungry to enmesh with someone in order to playact control of my world, lovability and lovingness, and a healthy self-esteem. The expectation of being completed by another is really frustrating, since it doesn’t work that way. I don’t like the discomfort of having people being under my skin, and a whole person doesn’t need a guest to tidy up the place. A whole person–who doesn’t need to control the world but trusts in a Higher Power (or guiding principle or reality or whatever), who goes within for lovability and shares the bounty, who accepts that wholeness is really quite beautiful in its simplicity and we all are innately whole . . . even if we lie to ourselves and trust stinkin’ thinkin’ over truth–means comfort.

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Responses

  1. “I am still deep in the social and emotional anorexia and definitely hungry to enmesh with someone in order to playact control of my world, lovability and lovingness, and a healthy self-esteem.”

    Thank you for that… currently learning awareness also that “enmeshing in order to playact control of my world” is not in my best interest.

    I am glad to find such a great blog from someone who has been abstinent for over 3 years! 🙂

    G.K. from http://twelveisamagicnumber.blogspot.com/


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