Alright. Last night I realized something that’s pretty obvious but gave me a better understanding of my mom’s side of the family.
Addiction doesn’t run in families.
Avoidant responses to trauma/hardship runs in families.
A natural response to pain is to withdraw from it – we all know that. Touch the hot stove, pull your hand back. We’ve an entire nervous system built to protect us. But did you know that emotional pain is processed on the same neural circuits as physical pain? So when you experience loss, “this hurts” is entirely accurate.
That’s the space I’m in right now – this hurts. I’m unsure if losing my stepmom is more emotionally complicated than losing a biological parent – probably not? I do know that it sucks to have such limited contact with my partner right now. I’m feeling pretty isolated, which makes me super aware of the potential for slipping into some kind of nonsense behavior. Grief isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ feeling – it’s an opening. Typically I welcome opening up to undiscovered things, but in this case there has been no one to catch me, and I’m exceptionally tired of catching myself. Hence the avoidance.
But! Sinking into this has given me a perspective for the pain others in my family have dealt with that led to addiction. That would be a very natural path for a person to take, in this situation – which is why I’ve been so vigilant.
Yep, I’ve used Xanax to get to sleep about half the nights since getting the prescription, maybe more. Making sure to never use it during the day, even last week when I was on the edge of a panic attack for four days straight. That’s not what it’s for. Have been leaning heavily on tension tamer tea on other nights, with the occasional hard kombucha. Very, very aware of the substances I’m reaching for.
Another substance to try to hide behind is food, and my eating habits over the past week haven’t been great. Food is one of the addictions that run in my mom’s family and I’m realizing that my normal relationship with it isn’t completely unhealthy, but isn’t intentional and thoughtful either. I could go that route and gain thirty pounds right now, if I shut my eyes and stuffed my feelings. But I won’t.
The one that’s relevant here, though, is this work that I’m doing. I’m filling my time so thoroughly that I rarely slow down. I’m getting little dopamine hits from posting blogs (though this does also help me to work through things). I’m listening to podcasts about launching courses and membership sites, and planning what both will include for OHP. I’m learning software, shooting video, taking photos of plants whenever I see a pretty one (or a problem, like the spider mites I caught on camera yesterday).
I’m chasing this dream like there’s a demon after me.
Because there is.
So here I am – realizing that another form of my avoidant behavior is one that I’ve allowed to take over my life already. You hear about people who are ‘workaholics’ and we joke about it, but this is actually what addiction looks like, folks. All addiction is avoidant behavior – avoiding dealing with the emotional charge of a situation (past or present) in your life.
Yes, I have all of my reasons at the ready. I’m building a better life for myself and my son, partner, his kiddo, hell – even my parents, because a higher income will allow me to be there for them in ways I haven’t in the past. I need to work for myself, and the world needs this work that I’m doing. I love plants and gravitate toward small business like the butter-side of your toast and your kitchen floor. So yeah, there are reasons.
But. If I hide my emotional crap behind my reasons, they become excuses.
I’m having a really hard time differentiating between the two right now, and I’m having a hard time thinking about continuing at the pace I’ve set for myself when it might not be the best idea for my emotional state right now.
Enter Veronica-the-coach. What would she say?
DO YOUR JOURNALING, DAMNIT!
Alright. I’ll start there. Regular journaling – at least a page a day, for at least two weeks. Setting an alarm now (pro tip: never trust your memory, even if it’s good). Now, off to work.