So maybe pain gets a bad rap. Is that like the Alanis Morissette song where she thanks a bunch of things that don’t usually get thanked? Maybe.
I usually don’t feel much gratitude for pain. But it is such a great tool. I’ve realized that if I’m not acutely aware of pain or discomfort, it is much harder to pinpoint things that I need to work on – and there are many such things. In fact, my best hope is to seek out the negative feeling that is eluding me within an experience. Naturally most people spend their time seeking all things positive. Maybe that’s the saddest thing of all. What if we need to heighten our awareness of pain and sadness? They’re there, if you take the time to look for them. Most of the time emotions are mixed up like paint colors jumbled in a can. That’s why they’re hard to identify. That’s probably why joy is also elusive.
Now it may seem I am mixing my metaphors. Physical pain versus emotional sorrow? I suppose I have learned that there is much crossover. If you look for it, you will find a great deal of subjects and categories that in fact commingle in the human experience and soul.
Example: Many people may not think off hand that the act of eating is intertwined with the rise and fall of emotions occurring minute by minute, hour by hour. But what if I told you that not permitting yourself to feel sadness causes you to eat very differently? The food ends up being an aid for distancing yourself from this spectrum of emotions. We’d like to believe we’re the ones who have control over these feelings. Not so. They are pulling the strings. Uncomfortably good emotions must cause similar reactions as well.
Pain keeps us honest. That’s why playing the cello is such a fascinating pursuit. You get nearly instantaneous feedback on what you’re doing right or wrong. You can learn for as long as you like. As an activity, eating is not so helpful. You often don’t know you’ve done anything harmful until hours later. It takes years to find out that you have been developing a gut. So you have to dig a little deeper to connect to where the pain is. It’s a moment by moment sensitivity. That’s why I went for my emotions. They are accessible anytime you want them. Naturally most of the time it is a dark emotion that you need to befriend in some way or another, in order to stop using the food as a buffer or escape.
Finding a reason to teach is a lot more straightforward that a reason to perform. Of course, what would you teach if you were an unskilled, uninspired performer? They go together. I seem to forget that. And things like that. I guess I get super focused on one thing at the expense of everything else. That is my gift, as well as my curse.
I am holding on the idea that if I understand my passion, everything will fall into place. I am not normally one to analyze my passions. Or am I. I may have two opposing tendencies. They hate each other. I hate myself. I am always dealing with contradictions within myself. Thomas Moore wrote that that is in our nature. The nature of our souls. Our minds are not in favor of this. But our souls demand it, require it. That was one of the things I loved so much about his books. I haven’t read them in many years. But they remain in my being.
I have contradictions in religion, self-care, discipline, self analysis, emotionality, embracing of naiveté, etc. You name it. T Moore is okay with that. I suspect so is J Foster. Okay to the extent that you learn what happens next. When your head and your heart are at odds.
I don’t know if it’s good or bad to be sad. Jeff Foster says it’s neither. You shouldn’t judge. Maybe you can incorporate the sadness, not eradicate it, not fight it. Are happier people the ones who do that? I never considered that. I always thought the happy people were less wired toward feeling sad. Maybe that’s wrong.
Is writing like this incorporating sadness? Is reading the Bible incorporating sadness? Are these things that touch me in some deep way tapping into a fuller spectrum of emotions than the everyday activities that I laden my life with? Why didn’t my shrinks ever posit that? Is it because they figured that being a cellist was already supposed to fulfill any desires and complete any gaps in my soul? Or is it that the shrinks I found didn’t believe in butting into my natural existence too much? They just wanted to allow me to uncover my own truths. So here I am, years later, making some growth spurts finally. Better late than never.
The problem with learning is that it is slow. But I feel a tug after death after death of famous people I admired and affected me. Death is a teacher, as well. Carrie Fisher’s death has certainly opened my eyes, having read about her life. I never knew. In reality, I don’t want to put myself in an early grave. I’d like to do whatever is within my power to prolong my existence here. The thing that is somewhat news to me is that I can enjoy being alive, possibly even moreso, without engaging in life-shortening activities. If I know that my only choice isn’t self-medicating my pain and sadness, then I think there is hope.
Poison. Pain. All the things that require self medicating. I am part of the continuum of human existence that includes Carrie Fisher. I feel the same kinds of feelings that she was known to refer to, and that she used various numbing techniques for. And I know that I am curtailing my life with these techniques.
It seems to be an inescapable loop. I am learning and growing. But I am also in a repeating loop. The loop of pain. I believe Carrie (and others), who said that the pharmaceutical fixes for the pain cause quite a bit of problems in themselves. So I am not eager to experiment with them. I never was. All of my shrinks seemed to think there were other options for me. But of course I am supposed to differentiate between the healthy ones and the hurtful ones.
And then there is the question of nature vs nurture. This seems to be an ongoing conundrum in my mind. Remember the problem I had with therapy was that it wasn’t natural. I have gone astray of its philosophy in the interim years flying on my own.
Writing is supposed to be a healthy learning and exploring tool. Reading has been helpful. As you know, I have taken to studying the Bible. I wish it wasn’t so laden with baggage. So much insanity and evil seem to result from its teachings. How literally to take it? I wish I could enjoy whatever philosophy and religion resonates with me without being required to take sides in heated debates. It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions, but they don’t tend to revolve around the things most people love spouting off on. That is one of the reasons it has been helpful to write. This is a forum where I am not tethered to someone else’s outlook – I can actually express my unique perspective.
I think my original program – EA – may have been all too appropriate for me. Even with my foray into OA and its focus on food obsession, my chief battle still seems to be emotions/rationalization versus faith. Which will I follow? After all isn’t eating the way I do an emotional affair? And then I rationalize my emotions or my reactions to food. Whereas in the program you are supposed to release yourself from this sort of self-will, self-gratifying focus. It’s un-American, right? I must think of myself as some sort of patriot, or homegrown county boy.
The oddest part is that the program guarantees that you will find your true self, your true nature, by ceasing the search for it. Or, at least, sharing the search with the higher power. You trust the higher power to direct your life.
I think there are 2 types of people in the world, those with blind faith and those without. It’s a bizarre exercise to to try to span the gulf between the two. I know as the latter, your whole existence is laid out before you as evidence that blind faith is idiotic and pointless. I can only surmise that those in the faith category have the same totality of evidence permeating their existence.
So, is it worth it? The answer to that may lie in the fact that a lot of worthwhile things are uphill battles. Maybe the definition of an uphill battle is one which requires a degree of faith. Faith that you will eventually get to the goal line.
Is it silly that I never considered myself an adrenaline junkie? I should consider myself some kind of junkie. I have developed a personality that craves that zippy brain. Or that has become so used to it that it has no idea how to function in its absence.
I am obsessive. But I never thought I was. You can rationalize almost anything. It’s only human. I love what Jeff Goldblum’s character says about rationalization in The Big Chill. Rationalization is unavoidable. But knowing the difference between it and deeper truths is key to living in truth.
I am tired of denying. Of rationalizing. But I am so used to being tired. I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself. But for me it’s not. I am wrapping my brain around something which is challenging for me. I must wrap from many sides and with many layers in order to actually get a good grasp on it.
I was going to write about the day I had at the County Fair, a day of getting more and more obsessed with food and less and less in touch with any other more spiritual, grounded parts of myself. I was going to write that at least I had a strong awareness of this obsession. I saw it for what it was. A thing unto itself. Unconnected to hunger or any need for sustenance. It’s very complicated. And then I’m so proud of myself for having a flatter stomach. It turns out I am idolatrizing. I am missing the potential I have to be a spiritual, beautiful human being. I am idolizing something very superficial, eh? Thinness. Where will that get me? Nowhere. Fast.
(next morning) I have a weird relationship with adrenaline. Weird things happen when I get it in my system. Equally weird things happen when I don’t. Should my life revolve around it? It appears to have been the primary factor causing my imbalance last night after the fair. I got the rush, but I didn’t binge? Which way is up? How do I come to terms with that turn of events? At least I seem to be figuring it out now. I am just loving this learning curve relating to OA.
I don’t know if it’s really from 1995, but I found some notes I scribbled on the margins of “French Toast for Breakfast.” It’s copy-written 1995. They are as follows:
Can I retrain the messages I am receiving and had received? Hasn’t it been a short enough time since I was little Adam? I just didn’t know how important and vital it was to trust me. I am the source, and the soul inside me is my conscience and spiritual guide. No matter how wonderful or powerful things or people are around me, I must always include and even prioritize my own feelings and guts and dreams. I must permit and nurture me, grant me access. Activities happen to be more or less conducive for this openness. Some activities you are ashamed of are in fact conducive to openness whereas some you are proud of and open about block the inner self and prevent growth and living.
As a little child, you don’t know which habits will turn out to be healthy and nurturing and which will turn on you. You aren’t sure how much independence you will be required to have later on and thereby how best to care for yourself. I do need to harken back to a young age to find sources of behaviors.
It’s always interesting to see what I was thinking about in years past.
So, I hate God, and God hates me. Is that what I believe? I never knew it. If I feel God’s love for me, then I guess that means I am capable of feeling His hate. Love and hate are not miles apart. We have to find the wisdom to put distance between them. Without that wisdom, they are easily conjoined.
So I should write. I should do work. I will otherwise be unable to do step 10. I will keep hurting others, and myself. I feel put upon. I feel there is no one looking out for me, anymore. I used to feel my parents were.
Am I powerless over food? And what if I am? Can’t I just die a peaceful/painful death and call it a wash? Who really cares? Aren’t we all going to die anyway? Shouldn’t I go out with some pleasure and excitement? Do normal people ask question after question after question? Only if they’re practicing their question mark typing.
What is my bottom? Is it physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual? Haven’t I proved I can hit physical bottom enough times? Maybe I need an intellectual bottom. Like the robot in Star Trek. I need to intellectually admit I am at a total loss. Logically. Or is it spiritual? Do I need to realize I should not give up on my own soul? That it is worth something. That it is worth saving. I am not very in touch with my soul. That would explain a lot of the agony and angst, consternation and confusion. I don’t cherish my existence. I don’t think I matter. Perhaps my physical self doesn’t matter much. Perhaps it could just continue to take crappy care of itself and die a simple death, and nothing would change much. There would be some sort of eulogy and obituary and some tears shed over my physical self.
I am amusingly forgiving in regards to my particular brand of overdosing. My brand of bingeing. My brand of self poisoning. My brand of the death march.
What am I doing on Earth? I wonder if I’m getting any closer to figuring that out. I seem to have been put here to confuse, hurt, and please people. I was put here to eat an inordinate amount of food, junk or otherwise. Just as long as it’s inordinate.
I was put here to watch an inordinate amount of tv. I was put here to be unproductive. I was put here to spend. I was put here to be sore in my left arm. I was put here to keep wisdom to myself.
Isolating should also be mentioned.
Listening to oodles of music from a variety of sources has been a lifelong pastime.
I have written some journals, I guess. They cover the gamut. Although there is certainly a lot of repetition.
When will I find out why I was really put here? Tonight? How’s tonight? Was I put here to help build and run a few restaurants? Was I put here to keep a house in order? I wonder if the 12 step program can elucidate these questions for me. It’s tricky though, isn’t it. I don’t give myself to this program. Maybe because it really is a tall order. It certainly isn’t what I have typically done in my lifetime, as a whole. I am more likely to do Mad Libs and eat chocolate til the wee hours than do the soul searching and higher power opening up necessary to be a program role model.
I’m reviewing my library in search of answers. I have seen my emotional roller-coastery self of late. I feel I am in a good place to pull back and reflect. I must feel a certain stability right now, as though I’ve been through something dangerously wonderful, or wonderfully dangerous, and lived to tell the tale. Also I’ve been practicing pretty regularly, which has a grounding effect. I am still a walking advertisement for neuroses, but somehow I’m just that much more composed.
So I have reconsidered the possible sources of who I am and why I do things. I have come back to something called borderline personality disorder. In reading my books on it, I would have to say I am borderline borderline. The reason it is called borderline if I understand correctly, is because it didn’t quite fall into any readily identifiable psychiatric categories at the time the name was coined in the 1930’s. It borrowed symptoms from various illnesses and seemingly arbitrarily glommed them together, based on the patients observed. Nowadays it is an established disorder. I myself only have a portion of the symptoms, which is why I say borderline borderline. I also feel like the name borderline aptly describes my feelings in life generally, kind if like I’m in a no-man’s land between normal, functional, real-life society and a weirder place of my own making full of dreams and emotions of both wondrous and frightful nature. I am straddling the two almost all the time. It is rather frustrating because I feel I cannot commit to anything 100%. I only know how to exist on that borderline.
I think that is why I spend much of my time not being particularly productive. Non-action is the best means I can come up with to guard against falling off this fence. I guess I feel either choice is going to be a disappointment. Any choice, really. Of course I do have to make choices sometimes, but I try to keep them to a minimum.
The choices I make are usually fine. And the dreams and fantasies I muse upon are generally of a reasonably pleasant or useful sort. The trouble is this dang-blasted split between the two, frequently leaving me in limbo, a dead heat of indecision. Thankfully I have found that writing helps bridge the gap.
originally published on 11/17/07