I’ve tried hard to demolish the wall I hide behind when my mind isn’t right. But whenever I think I’ve made progress, shit happens and I find it’s taller and thicker than ever.
My latest mood swing has me thinking hard about how I allow this to happen. Far as I can tell, I do make progress, but then I take my eye off the wrecking ball and the wall rebuilds itself when I’m busy internalizing everything.
For all the sharing I do in this blog, sometimes it’s still ridiculously hard to open up to those closest to me. One reason is that I’m still a selfish bastard sometimes. I get so wrapped up in my work and feelings that it becomes almost impossible to see someone else’s side of things.
I also don’t like to be in a situation where there’s yelling. There was plenty of that growing up, and I tend to avoid arguments with loved ones at all costs. Putting up a wall can be a bitch for any relationship, because sooner or later bad feelings will race at that wall like a drunk behind the wheel of a Porsche and slam right into it. Some bricks in the wall crack and come loose, but by then it can be too late. Relationships are totaled.
I’m starting to believe this is a chronic condition hardened by my early history. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit here and accept it.
When I stop talking, it hurts my wife, my kids and my larger family. But how do I calm the restlessness so that I’ll stay buckled into the bulldozer with my hands firmly on the controls, pounding the wrecking ball through the wall until only dust remains?
Therapy helps, and I have that regularly. But somewhere between the therapist’s office and the rest of my life, the action plan goes missing.
Maybe the problem is that I dance around it in therapy and I’m really not leaving with an action plan in hand.
Maybe the height and thickness of the wall increases and decreases on a set schedule and I just have to be more watchful. It definitely seems to grow more impenetrable at the start of winter, which is where we are now.
But maybe it’s always there, the same size and thickness, and I just happen to ignore it until someone forces me to remember its existence.
If all that sounds like bullshit, perhaps it is. I try to be as honest as possible in this blog, but let’s remember that I’m an addict and addicts are skilled at lying to themselves and others.
My mind is clear about one thing right now: I’ve slid backward and need to regain my footing. The best place to start is by making a real action plan, right here, right now:
–At my next therapy appointment, I need to make my communication troubles the focus of the appointment instead of letting the therapist run down the broader checklist.
–I need to be more disciplined about using the happy lamp I’m supposed to sit in front of during the winter. Truth be told, I’ve resisted it because in the end, I look at the florescent glow and grouse to myself that it’s just not the same as real sunlight.
–I need to reassess my diet. I’m pretty disciplined about following a strict, OA-approved food plan. But I’ve had trouble getting up the mood to eat the vegetables that are a staple of the program. So I fall back on my OA-approved breakfast at other meals. I tell myself the end goal is not to binge eat and that’s true. But messing with the food could also mean I’m messing with my mind.
–I need to get better at letting people yell at me sometimes. Yelling from anyone inevitably sends me back under my mother’s roof. Maybe Ma doesn’t yell anymore but she did back then, and a raised voice goes in my ears and hits the brain like gunshots. But avoiding arguments doesn’t make problems go away. They just sit patiently in the corner waiting for the next opportunity, which is always there.
–I need to get better at talking back. This might seem strange to those who think I’m pretty good at speaking up. But that’s just in writing form. Verbally I still suck at it. I don’t want to say things that might be hurtful and, at the least, uncomfortable. But sometimes others need a talking to for their own good. I need to be more helpful in that regard.
–I need to start walking again. I used to walk compulsively, then a few years ago I stopped. Perhaps I need to work 20 or 30 minutes two or three times a week back into the mix, so I can use the time to process my thoughts. I used to use walking time to do that and I was still a mental mess. But I’ve made a lot of progress since then and maybe the walks will be more useful for organizing thoughts now that it’s not a game of spinning worries and anxieties around in my skull.
Is any of this realistic? I don’t know. But it’s time to try more radical wall-demolishing activities.