Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Addiction

It occurs to me, now that my internal conflicts have become open to me, now that I have brought light into some unpleasant spaces, that addiction is nothing or less than undeveloped emotional intelligence, and that healing consists in nothing more than cultivating emotional intelligence, and specifically self regulation.

And I want to be clear on that point: the self regulation in question is not a question of knowing when to stop.   It is a question of learning to regulate the emotional flooding--much of it perhaps unconscious--which CAUSES the bingeing.  The bingeing is just a way to make it go away.  You look in one direction and see a monster.  So you run to the comfort of something else, in the other direction.  You turn away, because you cannot face it, that part of you which is woven into the fiber of your soul, that you cannot escape, but which you cannot control, cannot own, and cannot face without terrible cost.  It is a truly awful situation, and the background of otherwise incomprehensible behaviors which see outwardly decent and caring people kill themselves, directly or indirectly, rather than pay that cost.

Now, I do not want to say that alcoholism and other addictions cannot be influenced one way or the other with will power.  I do not want to say you cannot just say QUIT one day and make it work at the expense of a lifetime of taking it "one day at a time", and being forced to admit regularly you "are" an "alcoholic".  I have known many people over the years who did this.

What I want to say is that there is something in me which is psychologically "grundlich", as the Germans put it: thorough, meticulous, and wanting to be as deep, wide, and absolutely comprehensive as I can be.  Mental health is a process, in some respects, of careful, long term craftsmanship, and such work should be done as well as humanly possible, and if angels can be enlisted, so much the better.

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