Checking In

I haven’t received as many comments lately since changing to a different hosting plan.  I hope that there is not a connection.  I was using wordpress, and there are many nice features about using their system.  But the user has very little control over things and I always felt like a ‘renter’ instead of an ‘owner’.  Please comment and let me know if there are problems with the blog now that I am not aware of.
I also invite people to subscribe to this blog, and to use it to discuss their experiences with Suboxone, with opiate addiction, with recovery…  I will be happy to post your comments to a fairly diverse audience of readers.
This has been a rough summer.  The second of my three children has gone off to college and I am surprised at how hard it has been.  I flew back after driving her out to NY, and made the mistake of going to her old room and looking at the pictures on her walls– pictures of her at age two, age six, age eleven, etc.   I felt no sense of time for the range of ages;  the entire experience of her childhood felt more like a moment than a period of time.  My wife came home later that evening and I was almost beside myself by then… I thought maybe watching a movie from Netflix would help but the two titles we had were ‘things we lost in the fire’ and ‘why did I get married’– not ‘picker-uppers’!!
As I looked at the photos I had all the feelings I had shortly after getting clean– guilt over not being ‘present’ for more time with the kids; wondering where I was when some of the unrecognized photos were taken;  I thought that I had worked through all of that, but there it was again.
The result of the past few days is that I realize that I need to find meaning in life again– something other than just getting my career back.  I have had times when I was more ‘spiritual’ than I am now (although I hate the term ‘spiritual’ because it is usually used by a person who is trying to claim to know about Faith without doing anything consistent with Faith).  For me, being ‘spiritual’ means feeling connected to something important, having humility, being patient with others…  things that I am not doing particularly well this summer.  The result of all of this is that I am thinking about getting back into meetings.  As everyone who has attended meetings regularly knows, things just seem to work better when one is going to meetings.
Forrest Gump is on TV tonight.  I can instantly tell where my head is at because instead of smiling as he sits on the park bench looking at chocolates I had the thought that it would be funny in the movie if someone just walked up right now and blew him away with a shotgun.  That’s pretty sick.
If you are interested, keep reading and I will share a bit of ‘self-analysis’/recovery work.  It goes like this:  I now realize that something is ‘off’ inside of me, because I caught myself saying something that is totally inappropriate– namely that I’d like to see someone blow away Gump.  Most addicts have trouble identifying emotions– probably because we work so hard to repress things during our denial of our addictions.  Addicts tend to have two emotions– great (while using), and shitty every other moment.  I have learned that for me, at least two things are important in the ‘feeling’ area– first, that men tend to feel anger instead of feeling vulnerable– instead of shame or sadness for example.  Second, I have learned that since I have trouble with feeling things, I sometimes need to work to figure out what is going on–  what I’m doing now after the Gump thing.
I find it helpful to go through the core emotions and try them on, and see what fits the best.  So I work through the different ways to feel–  mad, glad, sad, afraid, ashamed, and hurt- and see what feels right.    I note right away that I am mad, but I know that for me, anger is often cover for something else… and thinking a bit more I realize that I am mainly sad, but also a bit afraid (afraid of death to be honest about it, as death is hard to repress when the family is growing up), ashamed (not sure why), and even hurt (more on that in a moment).  And yes, I have a bit of ‘glad’ in me, but not as much as I would like to have.
Most of this is standard recovery work– the things that are done in treatment and in aftercare.  But it fits well with psychodynamics and analysis also.  Psychodynamics assumes that we all have a big ‘unconscious’ part of our mind that affects how we perceive things, how we behave, our personalities…  We repress painful thoughts and memories from our conscious thoughts, but we cannot keep them from remaining in our unconscious thoughts.  And while we are not consciously aware of them, those thoughts will cause emotions, feelings, ‘psychiatric symptoms’…  particularly if there is some type of conflict going on in the unconscious.  I see the psychodynamic approach as an extension and scientific explanation for the recovery work.  I mentioned that men tend to feel angry instead of feeling vulerable emotions–  I realize that I repress things like ‘sadness’, and instead feel anger (I’m blanking on the psychiatric term for replacing one emotion with another).
In our unconscious rests memories of all our experiences from over the years.  Those thoughts I had when I was two years old?  They are all still there, in my unconscious.  Where else would they go?  We all have this image of growing up and changing, but we aren’t really changing as much as adding layers of more and more experiences, seen through more and more experienced eyes.  Under all those layers I still have the personality and memories of ‘me the two-yr-old’– although I now recognize that those thoughts are self centered and immature.  As an aside, an actively using addict is way too in touch with those two-year old thoughts!!
Anyway, I mentioned ‘hurt’… as I go through the feelings and try them on, I recognize the ‘two year old me’ saying that “it’s just not fair!” in response to time passing and my kids getting older.  Two year olds can feel that way.  Yes, it is a useless thought– but that doesn’t keep it from happening.  We all have the thoughts and reactions that we had when we were two years old, still occuring inside of us– along with more appropriate, more mature thoughts and reactions.
Breaking things down like this will not necessarily ease my sadness.  But sometimes a person will be ‘stuck’ in anger, and they can’t move forward until they figure out what the REAL feelings are.
This is what I do in my practice, by the way– I listen to a person’s story and note the areas where the feelings and content just don’t match up well, and then use those parts to try to introduce insight to the person into what is going on. If the person really denies what I suggest, I am on the right track.  In fact, the more the denial, the more ‘right’ I probably am.  That’s where the ‘doth prostest too much’ Shakesperean saying comes from….  I also really like the phrase that ‘insight maketh a bloody entrance’.  Us humans are really odd creatures– sometimes working so hard to remain so blind to what is really going on.
Forrest is now ‘In Country’ and that’s my favorite part of the movie, so I’ll sign off.

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