Sunday, May 22, 2011

What does it mean to be an addict?

So I've been tossing and turning lately about the whole "addict" thing. It plays in with incest families because most of the coping mechanisms are similar. Everyone is fucked up in similar ways, just to greater and lesser extent. Pretty much everyone I know who was raised around addicts/abuse/fucked up shit all seem to have anxiety. Anxiety is horrible to live with. It can really ruin your day. All day. Every day. To greater and lesser extent influenced by a huge array of factors. But anxiety is useful. Anxiety is energy. If you get good at it, you can learn to channel that anxiety into enormous energy surges and you can accomplish great things.

I've done this a lot in my life. That's why I wait until the last minute to do work. This is a common thing. Lots of people work better in sprints rather than marathons. But if you look around the world, many things have to be done by people who are running a marathon, not a sprint. I'm a mother. Raising children is one of the most grinding marathons in life. And I'm a sprinter. I love to sprint. I love to have big dramatic hard periods where I accomplish a lot of work and then I go hibernate. I really suck at work/life balance.

When I talk to people who are marathon runners they tell me to learn to meditate or "heal" so I can "find peace" not realizing that what they are telling me to do is to stop being me. They are telling me to remove the energy that has sustained my life. That is part of the problem. I've never thought about it quite like that before. I get very very fussy about advice. That's a huge hot button for me. I am very particular about who I solicit advice from. And if I sit here and go down the list I can sort people into marathoners or sprinters and I can straight down the line predict how and where their advice is useful. I'm half tempted to make a list and explain the people and see if anyone can guess. But naptime isn't that long.

There has to be some kind of balance. There has to be a way to help a race horse pull a plow. Mostly what we do (as far as I am aware, in America) is medicate them. We have so many drugs for this it isn't funny. I cannot function right now in the day to day grind without some form of help. With help I am patient, kind and attentive. Without help I pace all day pissed off about the work I want to be doing that I can't do because my children have needs. That really doesn't make for a good day for anyone.

But the problem is, I really like being a sprinter. If I medicate so that I can be a marathoner when my kids are awake and I need to be more level, that doesn't go away the rest of the time. It's pretty difficult to find any kind of medication that you can fine tune enough by itself for that kind of anxiety suppressant. So if I want to feel like me and have that nervous energy I need to medicate again. And there's this cycle. And I have really strong feelings about it. I feel very upset about doing this. I feel like I am a completely horrible person. I am a terrible mother.

Yeah. Guess what my fucking uppers are. Sugar and caffeine. Yeah. So I do medicate down (legally/medically and everything) because I feel that is the most important thing for me to be doing. But then I eat crap and eat a caffeinated mint and I get up and I start Working! But why am I really better than someone who uses speed responsibly? (Breastfeeding issues aside)

And then it comes back around to, but I don't want to be an addict. I don't want to be addicted to energy cycles in my body. But the thing is, if I don't medicate at all... I'm a sprinter. Not a marathoner. That's really not fair to my kids. I am not going to be putting them in daycare for a laundry list of reasons I should never have to enumerate! Why in the fuck do I feel like I have to defend the fact that I WANT to be home with my kids! Ugh. But I'm a sprinter, not a marathoner.

So is my mom. My mom pulled me hither and yon following her sprints. I actually plan to do a fair bit of that with my kids later. When they are older. When they can have a say in where we go and what we do and opt out if they really don't want to. I want my children to have a safe community of people who see them. People who are tracking their growth and progress so that even if I do lose my shit and completely start abusing them (very unlikely) there will be people who notice. I want my next door neighbors to know that my daughter is this bright, passionate, exceptionally precocious child. If she stopped being willing to talk to them it would be really a big deal. Shanna adores them and goes over to visit whenever she can. I want there to be people in my daughter's life who will be ask questions on her behalf. That won't happen if I sprint.

I think it was enormously damaging to me in every single way that I have no idea what it feels like to have people in your life. In about a year I will have lived with Noah longer than I ever lived with my mother continuously. Wow. That's really sad. I lived with my ex-boyfriend Tom longer than I had ever lived in one place before. That was just over three years. I have now lived in this house longer than I have ever lived anywhere else in my life. That's quite daunting.

A comment said that someone doesn't love me or hate me. She's trying to get to know me. That actually freaked me the fuck out. I am absolutely the sort of person who bonds or doesn't and just runs away. I keep friendships with the people I bond with. I have many many friendships that have lasted 10, 15, almost 20, and 30 years. Ok, only one (nearly) 30 year friendship. But oh man do I keep people. Thing is, I keep them in my head and my heart. Sometimes I keep in decent touch on im. But I don't see people. I am alone and very lonely. I don't know how to have community with people I am not living with. I've never ever had it. I don't even know what it looks like.

But I'm trying to find out. Today is Sunday. At 4 Alex and Yani will come over for Family Dinner. I still don't know what we are eating and first we have to make Shanna's birthday cake. She wants vanilla this year. I think I scored big. There's still so much to do and I want to do it. And that means settling in for a marathon. I want this life. I want it so much that I lose my breath with terror as I make my contingency plans for what to do in the various circumstances that could come with it ending.

I have to have those contingency plans. I'm a sprinter. If I fuck this up I have to run and I have to run hard. But I have the plans. And I know what to do. So now what I have to do is settle in and not fuck up. Because I really want my life. And so I medicate. I medicate and worry about health risks and the psychological risk to my children if I don't. Maybe I am an addict and I just never knew it. But I don't think that's true. I'm not an addict. I'm a sprinter who isn't allowed to run so I'm frustrated as all hell. I will get back to a stage in my life where that is appropriate and I will stop medicating and I will run like hell. It will be glorious and beautiful.

It's hard living with the guilt of medicating though. I think I should be at ease with the decision but I really have the internalized message of shame. For me to need help of any kind in any way means I am a weak and worthless human being. But honestly all of the versions of "strong" I've ever seen don't look very appealing. I don't want to medicate because I do not want to feel like an addict but if I do not medicate I am making a choice that is bad for my kids because I am a nasty bitch. So don't be a nasty bitch. But I'm a nasty bitch because I am a sprinter not a marathoner. So become a marathoner.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


  1. Are you as much of a sprinter as you were before Shanna was born? I would guess that because you've had to focus more on the slow-and-steady, long-term things just from having kids has made you a little bit more of a marathoner in the last three years. If so, isn't it possible that you will slowly become moreso as you keep having to do this for the kids?

    The problem is that becoming more of a marathoner is a marathon in and of itself.

  2. "That actually freaked me the fuck out."

    I don't know how to take that. Tell me more.

  3. If you are trying to decide how you feel about me, that means you are judging me. So far you are doing so incredibly benevolently, but you are judging me. You don't instantly recognize me as "tribe" and so you don't excuse my fucked up behavior automatically. It feels like a lot of pressure even though you have done exactly nothing to put pressure on me.

    It's a control thing. If I know that people either love me or hate me... I can create that dynamic. It would be really easy for me to decide that I'm not comfortable with you slowly judging me and so I'll just do something to get this process over with Right Now! But uhm, the only way I can do that is do something awful. But the impulse is there.

    Being judged is hard because in my life when people have judged me conspicuously out loud... they have normally been the people who tell me I am a crazy liar. :( So it is terrifying to not have control over what people think of me. This is one of those good life lesson things that I need to work through. Your approach is probably far more healthy than mine. :)

    Well, now I recognize that it is a marathon. That's the first step. Ha. What I mean when I say I am a sprinter is I want to abandon everything I am doing in my life right now. I have the urge to walk out on my family because doing this shit is just too hard. I mean, I could walk away with my kids and just ditch Noah and pretend he is the problem. But really I just want to walk away from everyone and everything. I want to move somewhere far away and "start over". But I would be isolating my kids badly. Because I'm twitchy and awkward. And I have trouble fitting into a group. And the only reason I have friends is because I have sat in one area for most of my life and I maintain contact with one or two people from each stage of my life. If I moved away almost none of those people come visit. And even if they did it wouldn't be the same for my kids.

    It's hard thinking about other peoples needs before your own. Yes, I am becoming more of a marathoner. But it's grinding awful and I need anxiety medication so I am not a nasty person to be near. :(

  4. How about creating sprint situations separate from your family life? E.g. some kind of charity work with a deadline that'd have a marathoner curled up crying in a ball.

    Or even something more frivolous, I just think that you'd feel better in yourself if your perceived excess energy went to something useful. Strap one kid on, pop the other in a stroller, haul them out into a group of people to do good, that sort of thing.

  5. Also, running away is for when your life sucks and you don't have another option. You're already away from your family, you don't have to keep running. If they cause problems now, you get to push them away. Let them run while you sit back and laugh.

  6. Drat, just to clarify, family in first post=your current, real family.

    Family in second post=evil people who used to be "family".

  7. I caught that. ;) That's pretty much what I'm doing with the gardening and house remodeling projects. I am literally learning how to run so that I can enter a marathon even though I doubt it will now be a bonding experience with my brother. Long Beach is still the flattest marathon in California. :P

    I'm not up for other people right now. The reality is that I have no social skills. I'm too fresh in the incest stuff. I'm touchy, overly hostile, prone to volunteer randomly in conversation, "My father held a gun to my head and made me..." and that's just not something you go *do* if you are trying to become part of a community. That's what you do if you are a transient person who doesn't care if you set fires everywhere you go. That's a separate blog idea. Ha.