April 2, 2018

i went to the mountain

Tired.  So tired.
A grueling climb, ascending to the peak of Mount Meru in search of a Yogi.  Stones tumble away as my feet gain elusive purchase.  The oxygen is thin up here and my breathing is labored ....

I have been climbing for months, in therapy, and would be continuing to climb, if P.J. and I had not stumbled upon the plain answer last night during our dinner discussion.  I have set aside my climbing gear and provisions.  Lille is struggling mightily with another fissure-depths preoccupation, one with startling intensity, and she has been baffled by the impossible question of why, after ten years of absence, the pattern reappeared and shook her awake.

I was shaken awake this morning by my alarm, and the thought immediately rushed into my head:  Addiction.

That tennis racket is going to come unstrung soon.  It's been busier than a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest, as they say.  (No, Spellcheck, I didn't mean "Ares".  I meant "arse".  I do not recommend attempting to kick Ares, with one leg or many.  It is not a good idea.  Please trust me on this one.)

I've spent the better part of a year assuming that this vexing pitfall of iterant infatuation results from, and has reared its head again because of, the onset of bi-polar disorder.  I've not been able to tell whether it merely correlates with or actually induces a hypomanic state, but they are in lock step regardless.  This explanation conveniently fit the bill.  Fire spreads.

But there remained the questions of why it went away in the first place, and whether what I gain from the pattern of twisted object-relational projection is meant to feed the voracious appetite for being seen as "special" in lieu of possessing a sense of intrinsic worth.

It came together this morning, six seconds after I hit the "shut the fuck up" button and my alarm stopped screaming.

Feeling special is an addiction.

It began in early childhood, because I was gifted and my first teachers' plaything, and I have needed it like air ever since.

I am not devoid of a sense of intrinsic worth.  I thought I was, as one tends to do when part of your brain is trying to kill you.  Therapist Gumby and I talked about what it's like to have that, and while it might not be the strongest bit of me, when I'm stable and not riding the sine wave, I do experience those things.  A bit of self-confidence.  Peace.  Sort-of liking myself.  Being glad that I exist and taking satisfaction in existence.  A quiet satisfaction.  An acceptance.

Discovering all that surprised me.  I assumed I was filling one in for the other.  So feeling special is not a substitute for detecting the presence of one's intrinsic worth; that theory has been blown out of the water.

The attachment-addiction's nature is telling, too, and this is what P.J. and I discussed last night.  It is exactly like having to quit chain-smoking, every single god-damned time.  In my twenties, the objects of my fixations were the cigarettes, and I just smoked the hell out of those little fuckers until I ran out.  I'd smoke them to nubs and then try to light the butts to get a last hit out of each one.  I'd run out, and would be forced to quit for a time.  The withdrawal was rough.  Then I'd find another stash and grab my Bic.

But I'm forty now, and I have learned to fight back, and I have a broken-in tennis racket.  When you voluntarily put down the cigarettes, you think every ten seconds, I want a cigarette.  You try not to, but the thoughts come anyway.  And you have to swat each one away, never wavering, every day, until the thoughts come less and less frequently.  You can't put down the tennis racket until they stop altogether.  You pick it right back up again when they return with a vengeance, and start over with the initial relentless onset, swinging, swinging.  They always return.

It's hard enough to quit once.  I will have to do it over and over.  It's an addiction.

Why did it come back?

My gastric bypass.

Everyone who has bariatric surgery is warned - early and often - of the potential, and likelihood, of addiction transfer.  Food filled that for years, sometimes decades, for many of us.  Suddenly, the ability to indulge food addiction, the emotional eating aspects, the "hit" from eating and eating, discovering you just ate the whole box of Oreos, is yanked away, and there is a void, and voids want to be filled.  Alcoholism is prevalent.  Gambling pops up.  Sex sometimes comes into play, and smoking is easy to embrace.  Did you know high-fructose corn syrup hits the same pleasure centers in the brain as cocaine, and that they're finding it's more addictive?  People don't seem to understand that food addiction is real, very real.  Being fat because of food addiction is not a shortcoming of a person's character.  Read that again.  It's important.

And sometimes, we regain all of our weight.  Addiction is real.  Addiction is terrifying to overcome.

Leave it to me to come up with my very own unique addiction.  Pretty inventive, for an eleven-year-old.  I had food, then, too, but my emotional emptiness required two addictions.  I grew up a bit and met P.J. and my cup was filled, and that after several years of therapy addressing the infatuation pattern.  That's the only explanation I have for why one addiction went into hibernation.

It heard a bugle and knew it was needed.  It kicked back in four months after the bypass.  To the day.

It's a year and a half later, and I'm still in the ring, fighting my third round.  And these Oreos are the cookie butter-filled ones, or maybe the mint-flavored Thins.  The Mike Tyson of Oreos.  It's a hell of a round.  I want to cave in, so badly, to take long drags, to crunch and taste.  But I have resolved to keep swinging.

Maybe there's a payoff for having mental biceps of steel.  And I still have questions, like why certain people trigger this in me and others do not.  I don't care for Double-Stuff Oreos, for that matter.  They're overly sweet and insubstantial.

I just decided that I'm going to go buy a cheap tennis racket and hang it in my cubicle.  It's weird enough to qualify as something I'd do, won't surprise anyone in my workplace in the least, and only I will look at it and know what it means.

Update:  Tennis racket, bitches.

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