I apologize in advance since I will be rambling. Not a lot of crispness. I figure I will begin my post at the beginning of the day, write in it it as I can, and publish at the end of the day.
What am I addicted to?
Well, the tip of the iceberg is entertainment, but what I’m actually addicted to, I think, is the feeling I get (or to avoid the feelings that watching prevents).
How my addiction began
So here we go for the deep dive. Eye rolls, emotion violin playing aplenty ahead.
I’ve been in a kind of psychological/emotional holding pattern beginning when I was 8ish with my parents’ separation (and later divorce). I’m pretty sure I’m just an 8 year-old in an adult body. Most of my life can be characterized with a simple 3 word phrase:
Avoid and Wait
As I wait, I avoid, and as I avoid, I wait.
Waiting for what?
For my father to come back and my family to be whole again.
That 8 year old is still in shock and denial about the collapse of the traditional family. And, because of the nature of the separation, and the total lack of professional help I was given, I began a holding pattern centering around entertainment addiction:
I will watch this movie, and when it’s over, my family will be whole again. If my family is not whole again by the end, I will watch another movie.
I will go to sleep, and when I wake up, the nightmare will be over, my family will be back.
When I get back from school my father will have returned, and everything will be normal.
I will play this video game and wait until my family becomes whole again.
This is how it played out in my mind.
So, instead of feeling at ease with life, feel good about myself, thinking about my future – as normal children and future adolescents do or begin doing, my mind was occupied by this kind of continuous, nebulous, fuzzy, never-ending panic. What?? What is…why is dad…where… And with an emotionally turbulent household, my father dropping in at whim, then suddenly leaving, and repeating this several times, the only kind of stability and calm I felt was when I escaped into the world of entertainment. I became a disembodied observer. I became what I was observing, but knew it was all fundamentally unreal. In this world, time didn’t exist. I had no problems. I just observed that particular world I was in.
Of course, eventually the movie would stop, or it would be time for bed, or I’d get hungry, or something external would force me out of this world that was away from the deep and growing emotional pain and stress I was experiencing.
And because then we began a series of moves soon after (changing schools halfway through at one point), life just became this day by day, moment by moment experience. The future didn’t exist. My safe haven was entertainment. Was to become a disembodied observer with no panicked, stressed body. With no existential worries or fears. I lived vicariously through all the worlds I was watching. Sometimes I had a family. Sometimes I didn’t.
So as I waited for the chaos on the outside to settle down, I buried into movies, video games, TV, and so forth. When it was time to move again, then I’d deal with that, but I would always look forward to going back to that surreal world.
But time continued. Life continued. School continued. School ended. A personal marriage. A personal divorce. And now I’m a 30-something year old still feeling like my life hasn’t really began.
I strongly believe there’s a deep, undeveloped part of me that is still desperately hoping my father will return, my family will be whole again, and we will just pick up where we left off, hopefully with some family vacations, meals, game-nights, and so forth.
I have moved from job to job to job. Social circle to social circle. Repeating the cycle. Doing menial jobs and tasks while avoiding bigger life responsibilities, all the while hoping for a rescuer, for an external influence to come along and solve everything.
I struggle with impulse control. I have been unable to control my impulses to watch or do certain things, and, because of the resulting consequences, and the lack of achievement, this has left me experiencing shame, guilt, regret, frustration, and anxiety on a daily basis. Deeper still is a fundamental sorrow. I always feeling like crying. Or crawling into a hole, going to sleep, and never waking up again. Whenever I think about real-life responsibilities, I feel like I am suddenly coated in molasses. Difficulty concentrating. Irregular sleep, eating, and exercise (little, to no exercise).
Always waiting for me are the voices of shame, despair, and regret, ready to greet me whenever the overload of stimulation dips in intensity.
Why did I share my life story with you?
While it may not be necessary to understand how an addiction began in order to recover from it, for me, it’s helpful. Much of my life has been this dull, numbing, confusing white static – remnants from the ‘big bang’ of the long, drawn-out separation. So when I experience clarity over confusion, especially about origins of things, I think there’s a kind of catharsis.
But the retelling also helps to be able to identify triggers, and patterns.
And most importantly, I think, the more I am able to sit with my pain, and not be overcome by it (overcome meaning I turn to Netflix, YouTube, or all other manner of things to avoid it). Going over my origins helps me sit with my pain.
I am not addicted to tobacco, alcohol, heroin, or the like. I am not an expert on anything. I only know what has worked in the past for me, and I am hoping that beginning to blog, along with laying down some money, will be one of the major pushes for recovery and transformation.
Tasks, Schedule, Timeline
I think a major part in all this, in addition to welcoming and sitting with my pain, which I will get into more later, is sticking to some schedule, and knowing when I will begin AND END tasks.
Already, I didn’t really set a timer for this writing session, so I am repeating behaviors of going-until-I-drop, or going until an external stimulus pulls me out of it. So, let’s begin now. (As you’ll soon see, I have become obsessed with time-stamping everything as a way of seeing the flow of time).
It’s now 7:07pm. I want to be IN BED by 8:30. I want to go on a run. So…kind of need to leave now to go on the run. Yeah.
This is all pretty fluid and experimental.
And I really, really want this to work. 7:10pm.