I do remember hearing an NPR story about a woman who writes or wrote a blog as a way of expressing, avoiding, and considering suicide. This is so raw and personal, and I wouldn't want to read it, because reading The Bell Jar was enough to put me into a down spiral. Considering the nature of other human beings, and as little as most of us have evolved to this point, I'm remarkably optimistic. Sylvia Plath's writing put me in an entirely different mental state -- one in which the idea of my head in a gas oven didn't seem all that bad. I'm being a bit facetious and definitely insensitive, but it was true enough that I wouldn't want to read that kind of work again. Her depression seeps right off the page and into the reader.
I'm writing this post at 4:06 in the morning, which is usually blog posting time for me. I thought about expressing it in a private journal, but it wouldn't have the same satisfying effect as knowing it will be read. And I do know that if you unusual people who read my posts read this, it will make me feel better on some metaphysical level.
But I have to write a bit in "code," because for a few quite reasonable reasons, I can't just lay it all out there like a drag queen at an elementary school talent show. (This actually happened -- see the news story here. Mind blowing!)
Enough of this nonsense, on to the serious stuff. The poem I wrote as my last post was a non-too-veiled message that I was feeling a spark of hope regarding some unrevealed issue I was struggling with. The problem is an addiction that I have been fighting with more or less (but mostly more) since I was ten years old. In part because it's not a textbook definition type addiction, I won't give it a name, but I can say that the number one symptom is hidden. It is an addiction of compulsive thoughts -- definitely every day, and in fact, almost constant. In some ways, the problem with my addiction is that I could live above it for decades. For the most part, it didn't interfere with my accomplishments in the same way that the big ones (drugs, alcohol, anorexia, etc.) are known to do. It might have led me to an earlier solution if it had, because I wouldn't be able to get good grades, write novels and screenplays, and be a solid employee. I would have hit some sort of nonfunctioning rock-bottom, been hospitalized, and might have had a chance or two (or more) at earlier treatment and recovery. Of course, the alternative to recovery would have been catastrophic. But my inability to get out from under my problem has been quietly tragic rather than dramatically tragic.
Now, after forty years of low level torture and low level panic about this, I'm getting treatment from a psychologist who actually knows what she's doing. Since the age of seventeen, I've been to various psychologists and doctors about this, but she's the first one who knows what to do. She told me at our first meeting that the "talking cure" does not work for addiction. She was so absolutely positive that there was a way out that some tiny part of me believed her.
Under no circumstances am I ready to say that I've found recovery at this early date. What I will say, is that I'm beginning to believe she's right. She's leading me out of this, and I'll be fully out from under in four or five months (according to her).
I'm Dorothy. The psychologist (Dr. D.) is Glinda.
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go home.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: She has to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What are you going to learn?
Glinda: It's too complicated to explain at the moment.
Scarecrow: Dorothy, I should've thought of it for you -
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart -
Glinda: No, she has to find it out for herself. Now this magic spell will take you home in four to five months!
Dorothy: Oh! Why did you have to leave me in Oz for years battling wicked witches just so that I could figure this out myself? Could "finding out for myself" really be all that valuable to me? I would have preferred to be taken home one way or another without forty years of torture in between.
Glinda: Sorry. I just met you a month ago.
Dorothy: Oh, right. Sorry. Now?
Glinda: Whenever you wish. But fair warning, going home now is great, but it's going to stir up some serious shit in your life.
Dorothy: I'm ready.
But I won't complain. I wouldn't do that. (Do I have to write "wink?" I'm sure you can get that joke without me writing "wink." There. I went back and erased it).
So, as everything on Earth seems to have two edges to it, I get to recover from an addiction and what comes up, then, is the massive pile of shit I've been burying underground for years. It has to come up. And certain people in my life are going to have to find out about it. And I'm going to have to rock the boat, and oh God how I hate to rock the boat. I may have to hurt someone's feeling by telling the truth because I just cannot live above and around my true feelings any more. I cannot make excuses to pretend for my benefit, for my family's benefit, or for any other reason. I'm going to have to change my life in a way that's going to be disruptive for a number of people, and there's no way to make it soft and easy. On the other hand, as this psychologist leads me out of my addiction the pressure of living the lie is building. Freud's couch better install some seat belts.
Clever right? Huh? Ugh...
What is clever, actually, is to avoid making life-changing decisions early on in treatment. So for now, I express myself here instead of at home. I'll wait until the right time. Alternatively, I'll go temporarily insane and lay it all out in the most explosive, worst way possible. Let's hope that doesn't happen. I don't think it will. The fundamental lesson in this path of recovery is self-control, after all.
If you read this whole, self-indulgent 4:00 AM rambling, and you have an experience with addiction and personal upheaval, I invite you to comment. I'd love to connect to other people who know how it feels to fight their own brains.