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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Patterns of an Addict (also, including part 2 to "Communication From Brent's Girlfriend"

It would be impossible to tell you what was going on in my head. I didn't know this person and had no reason to trust her, and since the only common grounds we shared was Brent - all signs said to stay clear. But, sometimes curiosity takes over. My conclusion was this - whatever she had to say was totally irrelevant in court and all it really did, was get my mind going over this crazy bump in my road I call life.

The phone rang the next day and it was a family member. She basically broke it down like this, "do you want to get back with him?" No. "Are you hurt that he's moved on?" Well, no. Apparently, moving on was his thing in the marriage. He was never faithful. "Do you think there is any chance on this Earth that you two will ever end up together?" NO. "Then, why do you care? It's obvious that police are involved in ALL of his relationships. It's not the women, it's him. There's your proof that he never changed and he never will. Quit torturing yourself."

But, a part of me still felt sorry for this lost soul. I knew she was in grave danger by staying in that house, especially when I had proof that he NEVER stopped using. He had armed drug dealers enter that house on a daily basis. I understood what she was going through emotionally, and if I could clear the picture for her maybe she wouldn't hurt as bad as I did. That's when reality kicked in, it just wasn't my place. Sometimes in life, you have to figure things out on your own. I was warned by many people - close friends, family, co-workers, and anyone that thought I would listen. But, I was in love and blinded by ignorance. She had to go through that journey in her life to realize what  works for her. Word around town is he mistreated her and everything she thought was going on - was. And I hope for her self and safety that she is able to find peach within - whether its with him or without.

Drug abuse not only affects the person who actively uses, it also seriously affects their family, friends, and their workplace or school - a perfect example would be the story I shared about this particular incident, or my entire blog for that matter. With that being said, I would like to share information regarding patterns of an addict that I found of interest from a website.

Please check out that website for if you would like more information (http://www.cyquest.com/pathway/patterns_addiction.html)


ADDICTION PATTERNS
Resistance and Avoidance

Most addictions begin with the Feel-Good Factor, with things that make us feel better, and draw us up and out of our "normal" painful existence. But almost anything can become an addiction, especially when it serves this pattern and acts as a tool for
resistance or avoidance of our internal pain. Even things that seem like they'd be worse, like self-cutting, or flagellation can become an addiction.

We may begin doing something for pleasure, or need, or dark fascination. But then we discover "accidentally" (and usually unconsciously) that the behavior has a pay-off - it keeps our real pain far away from our consciousness. Then we begin to do the behavior less and less from desire and more and more for its ability to keep the pain away. It becomes an addiction, and a compulsion. And like any addiction, soon we reach a place where small levels of the behavior don't work anymore, and we need to resort to greater ... and more ... and more often ... in order to keep the pain away.

It doesn't matter whether it's drugs, alcohol, exercise, sex, movies, eating, not eating, people, knitting, or chewing your nails. When it becomes something you feel compelled to do, it's a pattern. The key is to notice how you feel if you stop doing the behavior. Can you stop, first of all? If you can't, then you know you've got an addictive pattern running. If you can stop for brief periods, how do you feel? What's the first feeling that surfaces? Generally the first thing that surfaces is a fear of feeling. It's the fear that says "If I stop doing XYZ and feel my pain, something bad will happen." The "something bad" might be repercussions you actually suffered at the hands of your parents, etc. Or it may be just that your pain will surface, and for some of us, that's bad enough. The things we've avoided for so long are sometimes horrifying to face.


The Needy Baby

Within each of us is a small part (or sometimes not so small) that is our needy inner child. This part, for one reason or another, never received what it needed from parents, the world, or God. Even if you had the best parents in the world, who made every effort to fulfill all your needs, chances are you were not allowed to cry your pain as often or as long as your soul needed to. At some point you received the message to stop, to suppress, to "grow up". Even if it was done gently, at some point, all beings in our society received this message. We hold an almost universal
judgment against neediness, so expressing these inner child needs in their raw state rarely has a positive response from others. It usually triggers their own angry needy inner children, and causes them to respond to our need with anger and judgment.

So what happens to these parts that haven't been allowed to fully heal? What happens to parts that are operating in a state of lack and denial, who are not allowed to express needy baby feelings directly?

They go underground.

They try to get their needs filled in less-than-direct ways. They attach themselves to outer things, they assign meaning to things and people and activities and they tell themselves that these things are what they need, and if they can only have these things, they will feel happy and fulfilled.

But of course, the things are never satisfying. What is needed is to allow the needy baby to cry fully to heal all the old feelings of lack and need that have gone into hiding in the attic. Then we can find ways to nurture and feed the needy baby, ways that will be direct and truly fulfilling to the actual needs. Although, once the old pain is cried and healed, much of the neediness dissipates naturally.


Prisoner of War

This addictive pattern sources primarily from body, and body's despair. Body feels severed from consciousness and judged by almost all the other parts. Body has a consciousness of its own, but severed from its siblings (mind, heart and soul), and disconnected from its divinity, body becomes deeply despairing and alone. There comes a point where the feelings of despair become so enormous, it's like body "hits bottom" under the weight of all suppression, repression, oppression, judgments, and hatred. It sees no way out, no road to redemption, especially when all the religions of the world say body is the enemy, something to be left behind, something to be shunned.

And so body becomes desperate and angry, backed into a corner, a prisoner of war, a starving child in a ghetto situation. Body begins to believe that taking whatever small pleasures it can get - no matter what the cost - is fully justified. When mind tries harder to control and "discipline" body, body resorts to the hostile take-over. Mind gets shoved out of the way, and body takes over to gorge. You addicts will understand what I mean here. It's a feeling (to mind) like going unconscious. Of suddenly "coming to" and realizing you've eaten an entire chocolate cake, or drunk an entire bottle of vodka.

Body gets two pay-offs here. One is the obvious pleasure of the food, drug, whatever. But the second pay-off is the feeling of control, of having successfully "stolen" something, despite mind's tight controls. There's a great pleasure in this stolen power. Even though it may feel sick afterward, even though it may be putting our life in great danger, body continues this behavior because these brief snatches of pleasure it receives makes it feel less powerless, less despairing, at least for moments.


Self-Hate / Death-Wish

Although self-hate acts out in many forms, addiction is one of the most insidious. Most of the things we become addicted to are not good for our bodies or souls. Even things that taken in moderation would be benign, can become destructive when taken in large amounts, or constantly. When self-hate is participating in addictions, it's like having a little gremlin sitting on our shoulder that is trying to punish us, make us suffer. The gremlin pushes us toward the addiction, whispering whatever will egg us on, including taunts from its bag of negatives about us. It may use the "you're weak" taunt in a twisted push to get us to do the addictive behavior in order to "prove" that we can only do it once. Things can get very twisty here.

The same gremlin sits on our heads afterwards, and whispers in our ear that we are awful, horrible, bad, weak willed, etc. If the addiction is one like drugs or alcohol that can affect our behavior, the gremlin gathers up all the things we might have done while under the influence - any bad or hurtful or embarrassing thing - to store up in its bag of negatives to lash us with later.

This self-hate might even reach death-wish proportions, and although the death-wish might be entirely outside our conscious awareness, it still operates to fulfill itself in any way it can. The more noxious the addiction, the better.

The best (worst), most addictive substances are things that give pleasure, distract us from our pain, and drag us down into death (albeit sometimes slowly).




"DRY DRUNK" FAMILY PATTERNS

Much has been written on the alcoholic family and the problems facing the adult child of alcoholic parents. We just need to mention here that the "dry drunk" behavior traits do not only apply to alcoholics or drug addicts. There is a behavior pattern that acts like an addict, but may not in fact be addicted to any particular substance. The pattern may have originated with an alcoholic family situation, and 3 generations later is still manifesting in behavioral or emotional ways that do not involve drinking.

"Dry drunk" traits consist of:


  • Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity
  • Grandiose behavior
  • A rigid, judgmental outlook
  • Impatience
  • Childish behavior
  • Irresponsible behavior
  • Irrational rationalization
  • Projection
  • Overreaction
These traits describe the "addict", whether or not the person is actively drinking or drugging. The person who acts as the "addict" in any family situation, basically controls everything through their behavior. But addict is really an insufficient word for this pattern.

I grew up in an alcoholic family, 3 generations of drinkers. The house was full of turmoil and fear and unpredictability. The children in the house learned to play their various roles. My role was responsible caretaker. When I married a man who rarely drank, I counted myself lucky. But what I found was that I had married the same family pattern in another form.

This man was diabetic, and his mother had been diabetic and had died at a relatively young age. The whole family revolved around the disease, first his mother's and later, his own. There was the constant worry, concern for diet and exercise and blood tests and insulin shots taken at the right time and in the right proportion. Because of frequent "reactions" due to eating too much sugar or taking too much insulin, it became impossible for him to hold a full time job. I took on the role of tracking his diet and sugar levels, of worrying, of calling his boss and making excuses for him. Our lives revolved around his illness. But somehow he always found the energy and health to do things that he wanted to do, such as work in the local theater group. When I finally got tired of this and tried to change my side of the pattern, he accused me of not loving him any more and he found another woman who would continue to play the codependent pattern with him.

I consider that this man was a second generation dry drunk, although alcohol was not his problem. This suggests to me that the addict pattern precedes the actual drinking or drugging problem. In other words, it's the emotional factors that are the most important and causal here. There may be a combination of Needy Baby and Self-Hate running here, as well as some of Body's Despair, which makes control the main issue. This pattern requires that the entire family focus on the "addict" and their problems, and they manipulate the situation by going further into their "sickness" when the right attention isn't paid. Inevitably, when I tried to stop care taking my husband, he would overdose on insulin, and scare me back into line. I'm sure there are many people with chronic illnesses or problems that fall into this same category. They may not be as volatile or potentially violent as the alcoholic family, but the patterns are still insidious and damaging. For everybody involved.

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