Worry: warts and all

3 07 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

Worrying about what’s going to happen is a negative contribution to the future. Living in the here and now is ultimately the best thing we can do, not only for today, but for tomorrow. Things will work out, if we let them. If we must focus on the future other than to plan, all we need to do is affirm that it will be good. I pray for faith that staying in the present is the best thing I can do for my future. I will focus on what’s happening now, instead of what’s going to happen tomorrow.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

Many years ago I was part of the fellowship of CoDependents Anonymous, a 12-step group based on the principals of Alcoholics Anonymous, for people who have been adversely effected by someone else’s addictions/garden-variety craziness/etc. I found a lot of good there, and one of the things that I became aware of was the work of Melody Beattie. And no, I have no idea how to say her name.

She wrote the first books on CoDA: her books Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency were our bibles back in ’87.  I practically memorized the bloody things, and had a double handful of daily meditation books like the above-quoted The Language of Letting Go. I thought enough of the above quote to type it up on my DOS machine and print it out on an index card. It lived in my flute case for years.

I found it again the other day, and its truth still hits me at my core. In the past several months – oh hell, make it three-four years – I’ve been alternately stressing and obsessing, and actively avoiding thinking about any number of things. Note: I graduated from acupuncture school June of 2007, and you remember what happened in 2008, right? Financial meltdown. Holy. Crap. Student loans, a failed relationship, and no income to speak of.

That being said, I noticed something many, many moons ago. I have been taken care of all along. I look back at my life, and even though I was dealing with a multitude of issues from my past, I still had everything that I needed. Wanted? Nope. But I had what I needed. And I have what I need, today. Every tomorrow I’ve ever experienced has been the same. I’ve received what I needed.

So, why worry? Perhaps because it’s a bad habit, a superstition. If I keep on worrying, then certainly things will turn out okay, right? If I stop worrying and just relax, then everything will go crab-wise, right?

Um. No. I don’t think it works that way.

All my worrying has accomplished is that it’s given me grey hair and acid reflux.

 And… more importantly…

It’s kept me from myself. If I’m worrying about tomorrow, or next month, or next year, then I’m not Here, Now. I’m not with myself. That’s the problem which got me to CoDA in the first place! We CoDependents abandon ourselves to take care of others… and it’s just another kind of addiction. Remember how I said that Steven uses alcohol, nicotine, and women to avoid the pain in his soul? Many of us (okay, I) do the same thing, using socially-acceptable WORRY. If we’re worried, then we’re obviously trying to take care of things, right? That’s a good thing, right?

Um. No. Not when it serves to obscure the reality of our Present Lives. Because worrying is not doing.

Today, do what needs to be done, and leave the rest for tomorrow.

What is your relationship with worry? Are you trusting and carefree? Do you face life with a smile? Or are you battening down the hatches, hoping against hope that things will somehow work out? Let me know in the comments! They are appreciated, as always.





Addiction and the Soul-Hole

29 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

What is the cause of addiction? Bucket loads of research have been done to answer that question. Some think it’s genetic – alcoholism runs in families, for instance – but co-dependency and learned behavior happen in families as well. In many addictions there is a substance that ‘hooks’ the user: nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, while in others the ‘fix’ is a compulsive behavior: gambling addiction, binging/purging, sexual compulsion. In either case, it appears that there is a change in the function of the brain.

Some addictions have met with approval in some circles: workaholism, smoking in the 1950s (think of the Classic Movie channel), and sexual crimes (think the gang bang as a gang initiation). All that has changed in the past 50 or so years, with increasingly restrictive laws governing public smoking, DWI and DUI, and drug incarceration.

More interesting to me is the emerging brain science concerning behavioral addiction/compulsion. In an article posted on November 20, 2011, Hilarie Cash writes:

When we enjoy playing video games or get caught up in gambling, we experience a similar euphoria. These highs are not something to be worried about, in moderation. The addiction begins to take hold, however, when we do it too much. Then the brain is forced to withdraw neuro-receptors in an effort to restore balance. This is what we call tolerance, and we no longer get the high from the same level of activity or drug use. Now, we need more. And if we go without, we go into withdrawal. In the case of behavioral addictions, that withdrawal involves primarily psychological symptoms (irritability, restlessness, poor concentration, increased anxiety and depression, etc).

In this article from June 2011, Alexandra Katehakis writes:

Both Robert and Clarissa suffered emotional deprivation in childhood. Both have developed rituals to mask the wounds that never healed. While their motivation and end result–despair–are the same, their acting-out blueprints are different.

Clarissa’s compulsions are more indicative of a love addict. Her interactive style is labile, with a come-here/go-away emotional charge that is echoed in her chaotic relationships. Clarissa’s “drug” of choice is less about sex than about a particular romantic experience.

A classic sex addict, Robert is more attached to specific sex acts and sexual encounters than to people. His style of relating is detached, aloof, and avoidant–thus his preference for nameless, interchangeable sex partners.

 


I believe that one key to addictive behavior is childhood emotional deprivation. In my protagonist Steven’s case, a series of emotional wounds in childhood and again in later life led to a separation from his essential self. His addictive behaviors serve to mask a deep inner discomfort – he describes it as ‘an itch that can’t be scratched’ – and as long as he returns to his compulsive behavior, that itch will not be healed.

While he is truly addicted to nicotine (and later, alcohol), his sexual acting-out becomes a behavioral compulsion, in the same way that someone can be drawn into out of control gambling or video gaming. While there is societal approval in some circles for the kind of things he does, for the most part men like him are a father’s nightmare.

 

He is a typical liberal college prof, as well as a Cradle Catholic and feminist. If you think that adds to his ‘itchiness’, you’d be right! Even he has difficulty reconciling his beliefs with his behaviors; his logical scientist’s mind rationalizes what his soul cannot accept. This inner conflict further feeds his desire to do whatever he can to bury that primal wound, until he finds himself sucked into the maelstrom called ‘hitting bottom’.

 

And what happens next? It’s a twisty/turn-y story which I hope will keep Steven Canelli in your thoughts for some time to come.








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