Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spinach & Eggplant Parmesan

It hasn't been that long ago that one of the women I sponsor said to me, "Rae, I'm going to remember how bad I feel right now so that I won't go back and make these mistakes again." I cautioned her that past pain, no matter how acute, no matter how scary, had never stopped me from acting out.

I guess this latest trip down acting out lane is proof positive that I wasn't lying to her. And today as I jitter around, frustrated, irritable and discontent -- unable to settle down to save my life (unless it is to sleep because I'm so damn tired) -- I am asking myself, "Did you think you were just going to feel like roses and sunshine when the withdrawal set in?"

I don't want to act out. There is no pull toward that. I've been focusing on recovery as best I can -- reaching out to others, listening to speaker tapes and I'm planning to go to an open AA meeting tonight. But there's not a single cell in my body that feels willing to vacuum the floor, clean the bathroom or wash the dishes. I tried going to see a movie, but drove off once I got to the theater, knowing there was no way I could sit in one spot for two hours, no matter how interesting the show was. I wanted to go to a coffee shop and read for a while. I have a new book I'm really excited to read. But my racing mind would have none of that, nor would it allow me to sit still long enough to truly (or maybe I should say 'perfectly' work on my steps).

The symptoms of withdrawal -- the racing thoughts and the acute feelings of depression -- remind me of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is nauseating and unsettling.

One of the speaker tapes I was listening to today encouraged addicts to write down a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of actively living in addiction. I've heard before and this speaker reiterated -- when we continue to act out, we are getting SOMETHING out of it. Off the top of my head, I know that I'm relieving a sense of loneliness, getting some positive affirmation (both of which are quickly deflated), reinforcing the lie that I cannot live without this behavior and the lie that I am fundamentally a bad person, so that I can continue to avoid responsibility for myself. I even get some sympathy from others. The cons are, of course, that I become detached from everything and everyone around me and feel more isolated and alone than when I started. I don't feel connected to my Higher Power, or to my husband or to my friends and loved ones. Instead, my connections are to the people I am acting out with. Then when I withdraw from them ... I'm left with nothing but emptiness.

One step at a time, one moment at a time ... I just have to remember this phase will pass, that it is a natural physical and emotional reaction to what my body and mind have been through. Withdrawal and abstinence are required to be able to move forward with my recovery from here.

By the way, in case you are wondering, this post got its title as a result of my effort today to stay in the moment. As I sat down to write, I was eating my dinner -- some delicious spinach/eggplant parmesan from Whole Foods -- on a paper plate, with a side of Gatorade. Cheers!


vicariousrising said...

Yummy. I loooooooove eggplant and especially eggplant parm. And add spinach, mmmmmmmm...veggie goodness.

You're right about how we addicts get something out of our negative behaviors. In fact, it isn't even just us addicts who do this seemingly inexplicable stuff. Just consider those people who like to complain about everything. Note the word "like." They get something out of their incessant cabitzing, whether it is a sense of superiority, attention, the ability to take the focus off their own failings -- they get something out of their miserable behavior. So, when people try to act like, "why would you keep doing these self-destructive behaviors? it makes no sense?" they are likely being short-sighted in human behavior. There are many up and downsides to any act, and how a person evaluates the payoff is based on the individual's needs, fears or whatever else is happening in their psyche.

I think that's why some folk say that the point when people seek change from their bad behaviors is when the pain of the outcome from these behaviors exceeds the benefits. But then you are often stuck with craptastic coping mechanisms, and relearning how to deal with life also means changing your cognition. No easy task. It takes time, which is something the impatient addict is awful at.

So. This is why what you are doing is tremendously brave and difficult. It's work, but you are worth it.

vicariousrising said...

PS: Oh, and forget the vacuuming. Like you need to feel bad about that? You've got more important things to fret over than dust bunnies. They don't bite.

One more day said...

I read many random sections of your blog tonight...

I am so new to this...

I don't want to be a part of "club addict" but it seems as though I am. This is scary as hell. I think I should just put the little bugger back in the closet where he belongs instead of discussing him out in the open (well relative open).

I am scared...

Not sure why I posted this... I am not looking for anything. I guess I just needed to see my own thoughts.

Eli said...

Right there with you, Rae. This has been a hellish week for me. And I think that on top of the inevitable post-relapse blahs (aka "withdrawals"), I'm realizing that my depression medication is not quite right. I really appreciate your honesty here. Thanks.