I just read a beautiful post at A Hangover Free’s blog. A men sends in a letter to a newspaper about his 26 year old alcoholic daughter. He, his wife and daughter live in one house and the daughters addiction linked behaviour is getting out of hand. A person who seems to be very familiar with addiction, denial and the (family) dynamics around this replies to the man’s letter. Please read here.
The whole situation made me think about my own drinking and how strong the denial about the problem was.
I still have no clue what-so-ever as to what words people could have used to make me see my drinking was a problem. Until I myself began to see it as a problem I just denied everything. Well, I have literally known from the first drink that I would get addicted but with that thought the denial already set in. I wanted to drink. Well, maybe I did not want to drink but I DEFINITELY did NOT want to be me. I wanted to ‘not experience being me’ in a very destructive way and I immediately felt that alcohol was the ‘right’ tool for that.
At my first, second or possibly third drink something ‘split’ away from me. Something I did not want to have true. It moved away from me and sided with all the other separate stuff I had unloaded on this, well, non-existent ‘me’ who walked beside me. Actually, come to think of it, this whole pack of unprocessed, denied memories and energies actually has a place next to my body; it walks at 4-5 o’clock behind me. And then there is this hurt part which I am aware-ish off which I have lifted up in the heavens. That comes with me at 1-2 o’clock at arms length above me. Do you also have these ‘not tangible’ ’emotional’ ‘storage rooms’ around you?
This is the first real day of my holidays. I have difficulty grasping the concept of it. The other day I was telling my neighbour that I would bring extra food (left overs from lunch) home from work because ‘That is so handy in the holidays, so I don’t have to cook.” Today I called the office for them to check upon a machine because there has been a little child running around my dreams for 3 days nagging me about the thing secretly not functioning. Sigh…. I did not ask for confirmation. I really need to let go. That, and only that has been my goal of the last days; relaxing in what I do. Eat chocolate like crazy? Take off the blame. What would a woman who loved herself do now? She would not eat chocolate. Can I not eat chocolate? No. I can not. But I can not hate myself for it. That is when rest settles in. In that rest I can experience the ‘restless energy’ which makes me grab the chocolate again, it actually feels like a frightened girl child trying to sooth itself rather mechanically. :-(. Wonder where she came from. Funny thing, me sitting here wondering if that is me. In a post about denial. I think to know it is me. Ha. But that is the brain only. There is no recognition in senses, in feelings. And before you (i!) know this whole experience slips away from me into, what? another compartmentalization. Life is a funny something.
My theory is that anything we do is based in the idea that it is good for us. So I prefer(ed?) denial over truth because I was somehow convinced that it would bring me less harm. Less shame, less guilt, less pain than knowing what my drinking was doing to me and my surroundings. Untill that balance is broken I find (I guess anybody finds) it difficult to change my behaviour. Unless we (i!) become conscious of what we (i!) do and how we (i!) react we (i!) apply coping mechanism after coping mechanism on everything we (i!) can not come to grips with. Then there is another natural rule: we like things easy and automatic, which is why things do not easily become conscious.
And a third rule might be that we live in a society which has unconsciousness as God. From anything to everything, we like it unconscious; we eat food made by unconscious people who do not care about the consequences of their actions upon animals, crops, water and fields and future. Look around in a supermarket and 95% if not more of what is available does not qualify as food; calorie bombs with chemicals and no nutritional value. It is detrimental to our health and we would be better, healthier and happier without because is does not add to us, worst; it ruins us.
We wear cloths of which the materials have been grown in fields with people who get diseases and miscarriages because of the pesticide big companies use on the cotton crops. Their water supplies are depleted and their land is wasted, never to be used for food again. We live in cities where the noise and distraction levels are so high it is difficult to even hear our own thoughts or sleep at night because of the light pollution. We are chained to anything which is digital, non-human, non-natural. We overfeed ourself with digital, visual and sound impulses till late after bedtime and call this life. We wake up moaning and demanding coffee to counteract the restless sleep that happened.
We bore out the second it gets quiet. Our standards for living are so ‘high’ that we need 2 jobs in a family to support the house, the 2 cars, the holidays, the clothing, the everything. Children get tucked away in schools, pre-school care, after school care, summer camps and whatever classes we see fit for them to take to ‘let them develop’. But few of them actually get their 2 hours of physical play in open, unpolluted air which are a minimum for healthy physical, social and emotional development. We are pacified from birth to seniority by pacifiers, ADHD medicine, television, game computers, phones, internet, booze, drugs, all kinds of medication for mental illnesses up to our dying age.
Within one generation from visiting people by walking over to them and using the backdoor to step into the house without knocking we have gone to being offended when somebody actually calls – instead of ‘apps’. Our relations are digital, we share all of our life in pictures, blogs and emoticons online but a phone call is an intrusion of ‘privacy’ – not so much because they are actually intimately involved with anything at any time but because we are so overfed that it is an effort to really connect to a person at any given moment.
We live far away from what has been natural for thousands of years. When we get ill, which we do, have no doubts about that, we go see a doctor and get ‘medicine’ which are as synthetic as our lives and we are surprised we don’t get better. Or worst: we develop other illness as unfortunate ‘side effects’ or we get addicted to them.
/ Ok, Thoreau mode off.
And still; you know this. I know all of this and do I change? Nope. Well, yes, a tiny little bit. I minimized meat intake to once a week, not buying any, just eating 2 bites of chicken at work because it is in the lunch. I still eat cheese like crazy. I still wear cotton clothes, 2nd hand most of it. I live in a city. It drives me crazy. I will become ill of it, if I not already am. If this, this spilling my heart out on the internet is not already very much a symptom of the disconnected world I experience AND contribute to. Denial is everywhere. And I do not even know how to change. Baby steps Feeling, baby steps.
Oh, by the way, I do know how to change: by giving up all addictive behaviour I have. But I don’t. I guess I do not like consciousness because above is the floodgate of dislike, of hate, of experiencing displacement and powerlessness which opens up whenever I really start thinking about life.
Then, when I take a step back it looks like an addict all-or-nothing trait. Like talking the world upon my shoulders but not even being able to take care of my chocolate intake. Something with a serenity prayer ;-). What I write when in Thoreau mode is not untrue, it is just, well, I can only change what I have influence on and it is of no natural use to me to worry about things I can not change.
How did I get off track? Hmmm… Well, denial is/was so strong because my addictive part is (was!) absolutely convinced that it would be disastrous to not drink. Only when I found myself in the darkest of nights and where the disadvantages grew I could not muster the strength anymore to keep up the walls of denial and truth came seeping in. Which is only a logic result to how the Universe is organised. If I do not set boundaries to destruction, the outside world will do it for me, eventually.
I had no clue as to how to stop destructing myself and then somebody in a car drove me off my bike while I rode it on a pedestrian crossing. His anger towards me enormous and he was an enormous guy, even for a Dutchy. But I only saw him and what he did as a reflection of my own destruction. And that is what shook me: “My self-destructive habits have taken me over and others are acting upon it.”
Obviously he had NO right at all to actually yell at me for him not seeing me (yes, that is what he did). Or drive me off my bike at a pedestrian crossing. Or not even see me there. I mean? Well, that aside. But I am thinking this whole experience was not about that. It was about the Universe making me ready to give in. Or me caring so badly for me that it was not unnatural to be hit by a destructive force from the outside. Weaklings in a group get picked out and are preyed upon. I went to the GP to check on the arm which had a wound. Or I was ready to take this as a lesson from the Universe. What ever way… it happened. And in hindsight is was good. 🙂
What was good about the GP’s behaviour is that she did not push me energetically. She did not try to persuade me. She offered a soothing proposal and then withdrew, respectfully waiting for me to reply. She told me: “On your terms and in your time.” and she meant it. (sort of ish, but enough for me to buy it) And because of her not pushing I did not have to build a wall of denial. Does that make sense?
I had told her the week before that I drank too much and that it had become a problem. She asked me why I had not changed things. I said I could not.
“Why not seek help?”
“That makes it real and that is embarrassing, I am so ashamed.”
“So because you are ashamed about your problem you do not seek help to change it?”
That’s when the penny dropped. Ghegheghe, this discrepancy is the first time I could looked at how denial about drinking worked for me. I guess I was ready to change and because she spoke without judgement I could listen.
To me denial is not about ‘not knowing’, I was constantly aware-ish of my drinking issues but I well, yeah, denied it; I made sure it did not come to the front of the brain. And when it did, like when it was undeniable because I did something stupid I covered it up with guilt (feeling guilty is a nice way to not to have to change anything – since you are feeling guilty already… ) and drank a little more just to not feel bad. Looking back there was a lot of power in that denial. And ha, funny in a not funny way; a lot of energy was locked into it too. It takes a LOT of energy to deny stuff.
During the writing of this post I did some online research. Came up with a vid of Teal Swan which I think is very informative and I think right in the sense of ‘correct’ or ‘she understands it the way I understand it. As before: she is acquired taste and she is controversial but I like what I have seen of her so far. And yes, I do watch with care because (sorry Teal) something about her mimics does not always ring true. What she says does though, to me. I love her lists of steps. Never do any of it but it makes the process clear. Hope you enjoy.
I am happy that I quit. Today this thought came to me: Sadness is loss which is not accepted. I am not sad about not drinking, I am happy that I said goodbye because it was a choice I made and I had and took the time to say goodbye.
Wishing you a nice (sober?) evening/day.
Ooh, in order to not Netflix I did a single player board game which I had laying about for ages. I was surprised to find that I had NO difficulty with it at all till I game to level 25. I can remember that 5 years back I found every single game a challenge! NEW!!! I had not realised that drinking had such an impact on my cognitive skills. (Yeah, denial, denial…)