Sunday, February 21, 2010

Addiction (A beautiful Soul (running away))

How do I show him that the things that make him run away are of no import? There is no need to run. When he does so, he deprives himself of so many of the experiences of this life. He may avoid the pain of accepting things as they are but he misses experiencing the joys that can be found each day.

When he runs into the void to hide from the clouds, he also misses the rainbow, and a few tomorrows while he is searching for a way back. There are no words to explain how to accept and cope with living each day, while knowing that it is simply a part of the road to tomorrow.

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A beautiful Soul (running away) was was triggered by memories of my brother, who passed through the mist at 50. A crow flew into his motorcycle and he and his partner died instantly. The funny thing was that for the first time since he was 15, he was sober and happy. He never wanted to grow old and suffer the results of his life style, and somehow, I believe that he was ready and she did not want to outlive him.

He fought his own battle with addiction. It seems that sometimes reality is too harsh for a fragile soul to bear. He applied the drug of choice to the pain of living in a confusing world. I believe it is called "Self Medicating", with tongue in cheek. It is not funny, particularly to the ones going through it. Families are destroyed, lives are destroyed, and it often feels like nothing can be done. In truth, nothing can be ... except by the person who is self medicating.

In my brother's case, I do know what started his slide into addiction. He was two years younger than me. He was the blue eyed, golden haired poster baby and everyone made a big fuss over him. He was always the center of attention and he could do no wrong. Then we acquired a blonde, blue eyed baby girl sister when he was 7. Suddenly, he was no longer the star of the show. Getting into trouble and punishment were new to him. Mom had remarried and our step-father was very demanding, expecting my brother to grow up and "Be a man". It warped my brother's sense of what he should be and he could not be what he thought our step-father wanted. At 15 he was already an alcoholic. He could not measure up. I know my brother blamed my sister's arrival for his problems, although he did not blame her directly. Babies have a habit of taking the spotlight away from others who seem to need it. The other thing with my brother was hypoglycemia, a pre-diabetic condition. I have also seen this to be the case in many alcoholics.

My brother's self destructive behavior was so painful to watch that I simply could not allow myself to witness it. If he were sober, he was welcomed with open arms, if he was drinking, I would cross the street to avoid seeing the misery in his eyes. It made me very hard hearted in a way as I refused to condone, let alone enable it. I don't think the enabler sees their actions as enabling the addict's behavior. Much that is written applies to the addictive relationship as well as the abusive one.

With both my brother and my nephew there was always a woman around ready to pick up the poor broken boy and use him up, then throw him out for the next enabler to find. It seemed to be some form of misguided maternal instinct, combined with a need to control. There seems to be a poor self esteem component, and I suspect it is much the same as the mechanism that keeps a woman in an abusive relationship. If he quit drinking, went to AA and tried very hard to get his life in order, she would either sabotage him or walk out on him.

Society accepts the enabler and even heaps sympathy on them, when they really need help to kick their own addiction, their co-dependency. It is a repetitive pattern for both the addict and the enabler, who seems to have no idea why she repeats the pattern again and again.

I wish I had answers for the addict and those addicted to him or her. It truly is very complex, and the surface reasons can vary a great deal, however, I believe the pattern is almost universal. This is based on my own experiences with a number of family members and friends.

Perhaps the enabler can see the beauty hidden deep in the addict and believes they can protect or cure him. That can go on for a long time before the enabler gives up, if they do at all. Sometimes just like the abused, they will walk from one addict to the next, addicted in some way to each. There may also be a component that revolves around feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness that prevents them from choosing a healthy relationship. It may also be that the enabler feels that the addict can not find anyone else and they need to be looked after, an appeal to the maternal instinct. Or fear of living alone may motivate the enabler, feeling that they will have a partner for life. The mechanism at work is truly as complicated as the human condition.

My ex died alone after 3 failed marriages. He always said he could live with anyone rather than die alone, but he ended up exactly where he always feared, and died alone. He was unable to learn not to abuse alcohol, and the wife of the hour, both physically and mentally. After the third wife left him, he was alone. Funnily, I felt pity for him and actually hope he has learned enough that his next life will not be so tragic.

The stress of living with the addicted abuser is terrible, I narrowly escaped my own alcohol addiction, self-medicating in order to live with a big time abuser addicted to alcohol and power. I grew up in a broken home, so far below the poverty line as to not even see it. I grew up without a father, and believed I did not have the right to deprive my children of theirs. I lasted 8 years and it almost destroyed me. I drove myself (type A) in the career arena in order to provide the financial security that I had never had. Fast track to early burn-out.

Once I left the situation, the medication was no longer necessary. I was very lucky and very blessed. What a terrible price we pay for the things we think we need. With luck, wisdom comes.

Living in the moment disconnects one from such patterns, but the ability to do so is a hard won talent that comes with spiritual growth, and not a path chosen by everyone. It was my salvation.

There are other reasons for self-medicating. In order to live with another addiction, it is often necessary to numb the senses. This numbing becomes an addiction in itself and the original reason is lost in a drugged haze.

It has been my experience that the addict is usually an accomplished con man, and the first person they con is themselves. Unless or until he can admit that he is a chameleon, he can not change it. I have noticed that when he has no one to play to, depression drove him.

My brother was a tall, good looking guy who could charm the spots of a leopard, but also did not know who he was if he was not playing a role. He re-invented himself repeatedly, and even convinced himself that he was who he proposed to be. At one time, he decided to write the story of his life. He spent pages and pages detailing his growing up years in such abject poverty that he had to go out with the gun and shoot a rabbit to have food for the family for breakfast. Now this was when he would have been around 10 years old. His whole life was like that. I guess that is why it was so important to me that he was sober and had found someone he cared for more than the bottle when he died. For the first time in his life he knew who he was, and had found happiness.

There is something about such men that really does attract women, and it is too easy to woo them. The pleasure is in the stalking and when the woman is finally conquered, the appeal simply disappears and they are off to find the next conquest. With familiarity, the woman starts to see the flaws in his character and no longer strokes his ego in the same way as at first, and as he seems to need. Sometimes it is that they appeal to the mother instinct, or to the need to nurture or control, or the feeling that they can rehabilitate them. Often the woman does not see the pattern and would be surprised if it were pointed out. Sometimes the woman also feels she does not deserve better and is grateful for the male attention. People are so complex that we will never understand it all.

It does appear that when the addict deals with his or her issues and walks the road to recovery, they are no longer attractive to an enabler. This is also true for the enabler, so there is hope and there is a way off the merry-go-round. I am not sure one must walk the recovery path alone, but it may be necessary to choose support people very carefully. At some point, recovery has become a way of life and a healthy loving relationship becomes not only possible but almost inevitable.

A lot of this is generalizing what I have seen in individuals, and probably not as accurate as I would wish. I really would like to get input and write an article about women who enable and some idea of why, and how to break the pattern ... Like the Ladies of the Club that was written by a number of us sharing our experiences in order to find a pattern for the problem and for the breaking away. These women need help as well, and any little thing we can do to help is worthwhile.

It breaks my heart when someone wasted his life, but I do not have high expectations, only hopes. I see fairly clearly, I do not expect miracles, but still hope and do what I can. I know we can not save them all, but it does not stop us from trying. I write my life in the hope that some of the things I have learned may help someone else to traverse the same treacherous spots.

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22 comments:

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Margie said...

Thank you Z for sharing this!
I am so sure your words help many!
You are a blessing.

I hope 2010 will be a good one for you full of love, peace & much joy!
And good health.

Love to you!

Margie :)

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jon be me said...

Z,
thanks for sharing your story. I also lost my brother along the same route. Agree about the "Living in the moment" but would also add "accepting oneself as oneself is". That seems to be a struggle for most people and it took me about 30 yrs to reach that point. That is what I am trying to teach my teen age son. "I accept you as you are. Now, you need to accept you as you are; a human being with warts and all!"

jbm

PS
Z, dont know if you want to or not, but I filter my incoming comments to delete the ones that are spam generated such as the 2 other comments on this post. I limit my comments to people that have something to say.

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Be well my friend!

Love
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Margie said...

It's been so long since you posted.
I hope & pray you are okay!
It's now almost August of 2011, hope summer is beautiful up there in Nova Scotia.
My sister tells me they had a lot of rain in Truro but nicer now.

Be well and take good care, Z.
Love & light
Margie

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