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Recovery, God, balance, sleep, trust, writing things down, and connection; it does work.

Resisting addictions in all their forms, for me, can be a moment by moment intentional battle. I have no internal middle road. I suspect most people don’t given the lack of compassion and permanent damage we inflict on one another. Black/ white good/bad, on/off, in/out, all/nothing, yes/no dichotomies permeate peoples’ lives. And this, I think, is the crux of addictions in the lives of individuals.

I tend to spend too much and wind up with housing instability, or not at all and keep myself from moving forward in jobs, education, and life. Recently, I have been gorging on burgers and beers with my pal, which has been emotionally stabilizing, and apparently I need the protein, but I am shorting my grocery budget and my sleep. My pal says that this is just how urban people socialize. Good point, but I’m an addict so my life depends on looking at it closely.

What I’m really dining on is attention. I know I need appropriate attention and a lot of it. I am seriously attention deficit disordered! Or said another way, I have disorders or damaging behaviors because I lacked attention at home and still tend to not get enough because I shoot myself in the foot or I am a pain. I also know I have to watch myself with anything that leads to me getting noticed, accolades, attention, or “in”. Because for me, all of that is a drug that acts on my brain.
Recap: I am biologically mis-wired due to lack of attention, yet attention is like a drug to me. Tigers are so hard to walk.

Here’s why. I am an only child of one parent who lost their mate. They lost what I now suspect was the one person who might love and accept them. Who might hear and feel their loss of love and belonging. My parent, probably with the loss of one of their parents, lost acceptance within the family. They lost the safety that home should bring a child, a young person. Not just that, but I think my parent actually fled tyranny.


So here you have somebody, emotionally on their own with their own child, bumping along in the world, damaged themselves, with less than a clue, fleeing their home, and no particular guidance. So they do the best they can in their starved state. They lack foundational components for setting up a safe life. My parent lacked emotional continuity. My broader family, as I see them from afar, are not compassionate people. They lack compassion for themselves and everybody else. They are generally not open and honest about what hurts them, and when someone is, they are immediately abused. This poisonous pedagogy has done permanent damage to everyone and has continued into the next generation.


My parent’s permanent damage, thus far, emerges in everything about them. Because they have no emotional continuity they lack middle ground most of the time. My parent lives full-throttle or nearly not at all. (Or the last time I checked, this was still the case. I’ve been away for four years.) My parent carries the labels of bipolar, borderline, depression, anxiety, PTSD, narcissism and “crazy”. My parent is broken. My parent is shattered. My parent’s hope for love, a life with a partner, children, and a home; was destroyed by an auto accident just as it was birthed. Their fragile grasp on “normal” disappeared into an Indiana night.

I think their many addictions are just ways to deal with this night and the left overs from a home where they were refused a voice, and abused by another family member who ultimately pushed them from the nest, changed the stories, and nearly obliterated them from the tree.

On top of that, the one good thing that my parent did have to contribute to our line, me, was also nearly stolen. My parent’s torment went on well beyond a mean sibling and my other parent’s death. It lived long in all the cross-country moving, wrecked relationships, over-spent money on appearances and others, and overall lack of planning for disasters, sick animals, and societal pressures. And this is the stuff I know about. I am sure the echos of the past remind them of their now older age and the estrangement from their one good thing. Maybe they fear they’ve lost me in the end anyway.
Although I have no immediate plans to contact my parent, they haven’t lost me. The thing is, I saw what destroyed them and thus robbed me of their attention. They were denied their parent by said family member even as death approached our Matriarchy. In illness, death, and grief all of us were denied ourselves because attention to addiction still reigns supreme. There is no comfort zone in my family. If you don’t already have PTSD, give us 5 minutes…
This is a very wordy way to say that I lack attention. My therapist suspects trauma practicality from the birth canal. I lack nurture, comfort, and emotional continuity like my parent. But different from them, I don’t carry the same lables, I am not as resistant to behavior changes to be in a group, and I wasn’t usually as directly attacked. I also lived a split life. This gave me varying points of relief from the most difficult behaviors of the adults around me. And also, despite their darkness, they always had a night light on for me. While it didn’t offer much, it was a nod of awareness.
I know I can’t out run my own or the collective trauma of my family or the growing traumas around me; but I can cling to recovery in 12 step, writing, painting, my rabbit, days off. I can keep an ear to the Sky and to wise words that seem to flow to me each day from those I encounter, blogs, my therapist, my minister, Vanity Fair, NPR, texts between my pal and I. I can shake in trust for a bit, holding onto my connections when the urge to let go is strong. I can continue to insist on keeping my life balanced even if it seems smart to load it up with more jobs and school and “works”. I can slowly learn to stand big and tall and speak loudly my attention needs, rebuking abuses or dismisses of my struggles. I will be heard without addictions doing the talking, or the silencing.
I have to spend money. I have to eat. I have to socialize. Often I have to appear a certain way. My apartment/life actually does need expenditures to optimize work/life flow. I have to learn to buy what I need but not get swallowed up in the process.
That accident in the night affected my life too. There are lions, and tigers, and bears in drink, and money, and people. But when recovery takes the wheel, turning toward scenic views- Oh, My!