Posted by: innerpilgrimage | February 28, 2014

Thanks for Sharing: The Little Film No One Saw

      I finally got a chance to see the film, Thanks for Sharing.

      Sex and love addiction isn’t simple or easy. I honestly am more of a love addict than sex addict, though I will admit that sex addiction has taken its toll and has been part of acting out my relationship-control issues. I’ve taken sex addict twelve-step quizzes (pretty-much every twelve-step home page has one of those), and I’ve taken the SLAA and LAA ones. I’m not a straight-up sex addict, but I am straight on target for sex-and-love and love addiction. I act in mostly, with social anorexia and romantic obsession leading the way. Sex (and love) addiction is so hard to address because there’s no escape from the thoughts. The desire to act on, well, desire. This movie did as good a job as I think a film could in two hours. Sex addiction is so complex, just like codependency. Unlike codependency, however, the stigma of sex addiction is really hard to address.
      I appreciated that the struggles were ones I was familiar with from life in the rooms. I definitely understand the emotions-as-triggers . . . especially anxiety. I am an extremely anxious person, so I empathized with both Neil (played by Josh Gad) and Dede (played by P!nk, who I’ll discuss later regarding her music) when they had a discussion at Dede’s work about what triggers the desire to act out. Sadness, happiness, anxiety . . . and pretty-much the Four Triggers the Relapse-ocalypse: HALT. A 12-Step acronym, HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Just those four, alone, can get someone into a stressful situation enought to act in, act out, slip, slide . . . whatever relapse and near-relapse is about. The hardest part, I think, was seeing those moments when reaching out can save both people on the line (it does in real life, too) and when a missed lifeline call can tip the scales into a full-blown relapse. Being of service by being available really makes a difference.
      It speaks to me as part of 12-Step, though I was watching and seeing the warning signs of relapse in the old timers, feeling that familiar road even I’ve traveled on. I appreciated the four stories together, the desperate hope of the newcomer out of a different 12-Step program wanting a life outside addiction (Dede), the frustration of a court-ordered attendee who reaches rock-bottom after losing his prestigious job to acting out (Neil), the anorexia-as-withdrawal turning into a full-blown relapse because of secrets (Adam), and the cocky old-timer who’s being leaned on too heavily (Mike). I’ve learned in the rooms that addicts attract addicts–especially in the sex-and-love rooms. Even the supposedly “healthy” romantic interest (Phoebe) had problems, though she seemed to have everything under control. She is asked at one point about asking herself what it means that she is attracted to addicts. It didn’t delve into why, but I understand. Four recoveries collide in this story, two hours to try and deal with them all–with the Adam-Phoebe relationship being at the center.
      It’s billed as a romantic comedy. It’s not a romantic comedy. It’s a dark comedy. It has the bleak humor of the rooms. I laughed because I knew what they were talking about. What an addict will do to hide an addiction can be funny in its pathos. That ability to laugh more at “How did I think this was sane behavior? How did I think that I was being surreptitious, that I was acting out in a vacuum?” than laughing at the pain . . . it’s hard. Maybe it’s the laughter of being relieved I have a choice at all, or the laughter of knowing that I’m not alone, or the laughter of gratitude that I can see with recovered eyes even when I’m consumed by the cravings of my addict’s heart. And we do have levity in the rooms because addiction-thinking is ludicrous in its reasoning and rationalizations (versus the reason and rationale of recovered/recovering thinking). Whether it’s sourced from gratitude or from trying not to cry out of empathy . . . well, it’s been both for me. Addiction is grim. Its humor is grim.
As an addict, I saw a lot of “uh-oh” moments which led to actions and near-misses which were only brought back through fellowship. We really do pull each other from the edge. Like Rozanne’s Prayer, we reach out for that strength and that power and find an added bonus of love and understanding. Of unity in the fellowship. When we reach out and nothing is there . . . well, the primary character of the movie, Adam, had others he could have turned to in the rooms. He didn’t. He leaned hard on his sponsor, Mike, who was having his own crisis. and he didn’t reach farther than that. Good lesson there, that we all can have crises, that there is truth in remembering it is one day at a time and that the record sobriety or abstinence or withdrawal is 24 hours. One day. It’s only ever and always about today. (As a caveat, there are acting-out scenes which may trigger sex addicts. It triggered me to act in/have social anorexia and shut down, made me uncomfortable.)

      So, Alecia Moore, AKA P!nk, has her music on my recovery playlist. Along with Red Hot Chili Peppers’s “Snow (Hey, oh)”, I have P!nk’s “F***ing Perfect” and “Sober”. The first song addresses my not-enoughness which drives me to want to act out, reminding me that I’m enough as I am, that my imperfection is what makes me human (and, in essence, perfectly human–as we all are). “Sober” is a little more suited for remembering where I came from, feeling the longing to act out but knowing my eyes are wide open to the reality that it doesn’t work. In the second verse, there’s a chilling (to me) line which hits me to my core–part of the reason I am a busy-work 12-Stepper, a self-distracter:

“The quiet scares me ’cause it screams the truth.”

      I don’t crochet these days because it slows my mind down, and I feel so beyond help some days. As an atheist, the quiet seems even more quiet. I’m still a nihilist, and I can see how I’ve been very reductionist toward so much in my life. I’ve worked on reducing the steps to what psychological processes are put into play to create change. Science has shown that neural pathways are changed in recovery; 12-Step works because we go from the deeply-grooved paths of addict thinking and behavior into new recovered habits that get established as new neural pathways. The other ones break down, though I think they’re still there. But that nihilist thinking removes the very humanity of the process. There is a sort of magic inherent in anything being greater than the sum of its parts, something I considered and believed and recently was reintroduced to while reading a book on the Oracle at Delphi. Actually, attributed to the Oracle at Delphi was a question about whether or not a ship is still the same ship if every last bit of it has been replaced over the years. There’s a point where the meaning has more value than the actual physical make-up. I consider that my cells have grown, divided, and died many times over in the four decades I’ve been alive. I don’t think anything of what was born is still there on a cellular level. However, there’s something more . . . a continuity that identifies me as a physical being of a life of almost four-and-a-half decades. I am a ship which has had every timber replaced, in my way, yet I’m still attached to markers and milestones. That new cells have grown and died even in my own mind, keeping those connections open.
      I suppose I’m trying, still, to yank myself out of the nihilism. I definitely feel less alone as an atheist in the rooms when I read the articles on aaagnostica.org. It matters not at all that I didn’t choose alcohol as my lifelong substance/behavior . . . that it got tucked in neatly into the OA recovery and I have more cravings for sweet/salt/fat than alcohol. Actually, I’m more willing to admit that alcohol never helped anything for me and turn away from it. Certain foods, I sweat walking away from and try to addict-reason myself that I can be reasonable and controlled. It’s not been great recently, as a new trigger food has been dropped onto my list and a second one seems to be coming up fast. Of course, my eating is a mess–despite me making abstinence daily. I don’t really trust much of what I think in terms of “binge” or “restrict”, because my inner anorexic thinks two slices of bread or five crackers is a binge. Reason’s really taking a beating right now regarding my food. I’m abstinent by the letter of the law, but I am not feeling clarity or serenity or recovery-mindedness.

      I was just thinking: “What or who do I have to pray to in order to get myself an atheist in program to help me get through the twelve steps?”

      It’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing, because it is funny. It’s one of those little things that reminds me that I’ve gotten to the point I can ask that question, that I walked into OA four-and-a-half years ago in utter desperation and exhaustion. I guess I’ll just trust in whatever reality brings in the next twenty-four hours and set a timer tomorrow for a minute or two to sit in the screaming silence. I’m not here to run a one-minute marathon; I’m not really even here to run a marathon, because it implies that there’s a finish line. I suppose it’s more like daily walks or hikes. Something that is one day at a time, with no start line or finish line . . . just one more opportunity to experience how great life is when I get out into it and look around.

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