Monday, May 19, 2008

Self Medication.

There are times in my life where I do not question my decision to be sober. I would say this is about 99% of the time, to be honest. The beauty and decisiveness in my life has become apparent due to the decisions I have made. Overall, I am absolutely in agreement with my heart and intellect.

The 1% of the time, however, can bowl me over like an emotional steamroller. One that generally comes without any kind of warning. I may be sitting at work and suddenly I am besieged by feelings of regret for the decisions I have made, including being sober. There are times the feeling of utter despair accompanies my questions about being sober. Why did I do this? Why did I commit not knowing how much emotional work this was going to be?

I have to take a breathe and take a moment to get over myself. I say to myself that it’s the irresponsibility that comes back to haunt me not so much the actual decision to be in recovery. I truly believe that being an alcoholic is more the result of needing desperately to self medicate, to escape or try to diminish feelings and actions that have proved too painful to deal with.

For me, I have been self medicating almost my entire life. Before alcohol, I made up scenarios and stories to escape the pain I felt. I ran away emotionally.I could pacify myself doing some deeds of self deprecation at a young age. My dreams consisted of more funerals than I will actually have because funerals for myself meant that someone was actually paying attention to me. And these dreams always entailed those people, from a very young age, who had ever abandoned me. I know what I have done to self medicate, but I struggle endlessly with the why and what caused me to do this. And I know this is universal on some level. There are people who feel that the why’s aren’t important. That it is the present that matters. I believe this as well on some level, but the overwhelming need to understand how I got to a place of such desperate measures comes from years of being overly inquisitive and largely ignored. In my own life, I find it’s understanding the past that allows the present and ultimately the future to be shaped.

The entire science of Neurology and addiction, coupled with behavioral psychology on some level fascinate me. Have the feelings and consistent acts of self deprecation come from somewhere environmental? Was it ingrained as early as birth? These intangible answers that I seek cause such conflict between my emotional and rational minds, that it causes regular distress and curiosity mixed together.

For example, as a very young child, I experienced a great deal of domestic instability. As a result of this, I believe I wanted to belong to everyone and anyone who would pay attention to me. I was desperate for a life other than mine because I felt so shattered. I distinctly remember having these feelings at age 5. I was heartbroken that my family was splitting up, as any young child would be. The reality of the situation was that my family could not stay together to salvage any means of normalcy. Damage had been done. And the split divided us considerably.

As a young girl, I clung to people. I acted out in every fashion I knew how. I was just simply emotionally devestated on so many levels. Today, my question here is whether this was a reaction to my environment; abandonment, despair, parents arguing constantly leading to divorce when the definition hadn’t been flushed out yet. Anger. Rage. Pain. Or was it simply my reaction to traumatic events given my propensity for emotionality. It’s these scenarios that I question on a daily basis. And then I question whether I just do not have the ability to see the situation with any objection. That, in my own ability to blame myself, I have missed the real meat of what transpired.

On top of this, add in some head trauma (concussions galore due to little parental guidance at most stages of childhood and a father inflicted car accident), it brings in the neurologic aspect. Did I suffer some kind of frontal lobe damage that caused me to lost the ability to reasonably categorize my emotions? Again, constant state of questions.

A few years later, in the prime of my emotional development, my father died tragically when I was twelve. I had divorce under my belt, but the death of my father was not something I expected...secretly hoped at times in my childhood as any child may imagine when someone causes them any kind of pain, but when I was told of his death, the reality was hard and cold. This was a major catalyst to my drinking career. In my underdeveloped ability to reason, I had been permanently abandoned by the man I adored and hated all at the same time.

Sadly, I still struggle with this on many levels. Being sober has increased the emotional accountability factor, thus making it harder to deny that I am not completely over the death of my father twenty two years ago.

Even now, I sit here and it rattles me. The pain is sometimes like an streak of electricity that runs deep within my core. I am strangely drawn to intensity I feel but instantly repulsed at the devastation that is still very present with my heart. So much so, the prime motivation for my self medication was because I simply did not know how to deal with the inability to control the events in my life. But, I was able to control my out of control behavior (it makes sense). I lived in denial on a daily basis. This became my safe haven from needing to allow myself to grieve immensely.

And today, when I have question regarding where I am in my sober life, the issue always seems to come down to the fact that I am still learning to cope and release myself from the heart wreching guilt I feel for being alive while my father is dead.

Right now, I am on an airplane. I am writing this and looking at a picture of my father while I type. And, as I keep reading the words I have written over, I feel a sense of accomplishment with the slightest twinge of degradation. My self medicating looks more like an antibiotic regimen than a heroin habit. I question, yes, but it is because I can at this point. If you seek answers and you don't ask, even if it's a question to yourself, you'll never find the truth you are searching for.

I sit here at 31,00 ft and I am figuratively the closest to my father than I will ever be, given his propensity for flying and jumping out of planes. True, I miss flying around the sky with him (again, on so many different levels) but today, I'm really glad to be landing on the ground. Passed on the free cocktails, ate the snacks and realize that this whole sobriety thing, after six and a half years and counting, may actually work.

And may actually work really well.

1 comment:

shinyruby2 said...

wow. beautiful post.. and i feel myself nodding to a lot of it. thanks for sharing. you are a wonderful inspiration x