Double-Post Tuesday: SERIOUS Navel-Gazing here

First, you should read the post below this one.  This one makes more sense that way, and frankly, it’s the one below that I need some feedback on, ok?  Thanks.

I keep thinking about treating the cause versus treating the symptom.  For me, the cause is something deep in my psyche, something mental, emotional, spiritual, and possibly physical.  (I can’t dissect my brain to check that last one, so I’m guessing.)  The symptoms are the maladaptive coping mechanisms (drinking, bingeing, whatever else my brain comes up with later on) that I use to keep from dealing with said cause.  I think that’s part of why, when I stop bingeing, I start drinking.  When I stop drinking, I start bingeing.  Back and forth, back and forth.

The thing I liked about Intuitive Eating (per below) was the way it sort of neatly (and unexpectedly) short-circuited that crazy voice.  Suddenly it didn’t take a Herculean act of will to keep from bingeing.  Suddenly it just . . . stopped.  And it was ok.  I’m hoping that my version of Sort-of-Intuitve Drinking will do the same thing for the alcohol voice. 

My mom studied Archetypes.  It’s kind of like Jungian psychology.  But in the Archetypal field of study, the idea is that everyone has 12 dominant archetypes that they manifest in their behavior.  (One of them is the Addict.  Hmmm, I wonder if that one is one of mine?  *SERIOUS EYEROLL*)  One of mine is the Warrior.  I go to battle over EVERYTHING.  Even when it’s ill-advised.  I have to be sort of careful about it because otherwise I start getting pissed off over stupid, inconsequential things.

But it’s that part of me that is so invested in treating the cause, and not the symptom.  It’s that part of me that rises up my spine and says, “I WILL NOT BE BEATEN BY THIS “OTHER” THING.  I WILL WIN.  I WILL KILL IT OUTRIGHT.”  It’s a serious voice.  I’ve been told by the (few) people I’ve talked to about this in real life, that when I talk about beating this, about being at some point recoverED instead of recoverING, that my whole demeanor changes.  My voice gets lower.  My chin drops.  My gaze hardens.  My shoulders drop and I stand up straighter.  I’m not conscious of any of that, although I can feel the steel in my spine: that unbending resolve, that absolute, unquestioning, unquestionABLE, determination to WIN.

And now, as I write about shutting down the various behaviors that hide the cause, I know what the end result will be.  I know that in the end I will have to face something that I haven’t wanted to face.  Something that I am so afraid of that I have chosen to engage in self-destructive behaviors rather than face it.  I have no idea what it is.  I’ve done all kinds of psychological searching and soul-searching, and of course SOME part of me knows what it is, because hi, it’s PART OF ME.  But I haven’t been able to drag it out into the light.

It’s funny: I have this mental image of the root cause as a rat in a house.  The rooms of the house (where the rat hides) are all the behaviors the root cause uses to disguise itself.  And as soon as I slam one door to keep it out of a room (like bingeing), it runs into a different room (like drinking).  So I force it out of that room and slam the door.  And it finds a different room.  And I force it out and slam the door.  And it finds a different room.  And so on.  But eventually, all the doors will be closed and that rat will be trapped in the wide open living room with no place else to go.  And I’m sure that in the true nature of things I am afraid to deal with, it will suddenly grow in size and scare me to death, and I’ll be tempted to reopen one of those doors and let the rat live in that little room, because at least I’ll know where it is that way. 

But I also know from bitter experience that the sound of the rat in that room, the rotting smell of whatever it’s eating, will evenutally permeate the whole house, and there will be no peace for me.  So I’ll face the rat in the living room, when it grows taller than me and threatens to eat me or give me bubonic plague (or worse, PNEUMONIC plague), or whatever it is that I’m so afraid of, and I will fight it down and kill it. 

But I hope it doesn’t reflect badly on me to say that even as I slam doors and continue the process of trapping that rat, I dread the day I slam the last door.  I dread actually facing whatever it is that I’m terrified of, and I am in no hurry for that day to get here. 

But I keep slamming doors.


8 responses to “Double-Post Tuesday: SERIOUS Navel-Gazing here

  1. I was going to comment about cause and effect, but basically? I’m not all that convinced that even if you can find it, whether it can always be fixed. Do you read a blog called CBTish? This post might interest you.

    I’m still thinking about it, personally this evening I am considering a frontal lobotomy, but that’s my horrible future, not yours 🙂

    Lola x

  2. In practice, for people who have successful psychotherapy, it never turns out to be scary, in the end, even if some very scary things turn up along the way. So the idea that the rat is scary might mean that the rat is a red herring. I am more interested in the idea of scary itself — the idea that something in your mind can scare your mind, if that’s what you mean. Is that what you mean? That your mind is scared of itself?

    And do you mean that the Warrior really plans to kill part of your self? That’s interesting too. The way recovery works usually feels more like, “Suddenly it just . . . stopped. And it was ok.” Not like chasing and trapping and killing.

    Which is also my answer to the question of whether it can always be fixed. Suppose it’s a rat, and suppose it can’t be killed, or made into not-rat. But suppose suddenly it just . . . became a pet rat. That’s what I was trying to say in The thing, that if you have a rat and an illness, then you cure the illness, you still have a rat and you have to decide what to do with it.

    (I’m not sure that makes any sense, but I’m going to press the button anyway and hope for the best…)

  3. hi again,
    I had this *very scary thing* come up when I was really solidly in a good therapy relationship. I was driving TO therapy one day, eating candy (which was my dissociative food du jour), and I stopped and asked myself “what would be happening in me right now if I WEREN’T pushing it down/away with candy?”

    It was super hard to listen to that, to let that become real. For me, that one time, it was a memory. And it was so awful and scary, and yet also so much better than feeling driven to do something I didn’t really respect and didn’t understand.

    I just started reading your blog today, via Rodeo Sarah. You seem really, really amazing. Thanks for doing this.


  4. I can’t think how to phrase this without getting all pickled with rats and warriors and the like. All I can say is that ED’s are so complicated that even the owner of the rat cannot be sure if it’s the rat that is stinking out the house or not. Even when grabbing the rat, you may find out that it’s not a rat after all, and whilst you are doing that, you end up get bitten on the arse by the couch.

    The trouble with ED’s is they are so sneaky. It doesn’t want you to catch the rat, and it distracts you to save itself. That which looks incredibly rat like in the shadows, when brought into the light turns out to be yet another sodding vase, and the rat is apparently still missing assumed rampant. You are so damn convinced that “no no this time, I’m gonna get it” and then once again, no rats in the trap.

    How long can you chase rats before you realise chasing the rat makes rat chasing the sole purpose of your life, and actually you’d be better off just clearing up the rat crap, and locking the door to the basement?

    Lola x

    PS I wonder how many times I used Rat in that comment?
    PPS I’m not poo pooing therapy or anything, just wondering….

  5. This is a fascinating dialogue 🙂 Just to throw another perspective in, I keep wondering, What happens if we try to make friends with the rat?

  6. Pickled rat? That’s the problem with metaphors. The rat is a symbol for something else, but using the metaphor protects the rat from reality and the best you can do is chase it around or lock the door.

    CBT tests things against reality and common sense, but to do that you have to get beyond the metaphor and talk about what you are really talking about. And ‘talk about’ is not enough either. You have to share the emotional content of what you are really talking about, so that you can test its emotional impact against reality and common sense.

    So from a CBT point of view, therapy and chasing rats are unrelated activities.

  7. You know, I kinda think that once you get the rat trapped in the living room, it might (by then) end up being just a cute little mouse that you can let out the front door, never to be seen again.
    That is, sometimes the things that we are most afraid of, the unknown scary stuff, when we finally confront it (them) it doesn’t end up being that horrible, and afterwards you have such a sense of pride in yourself and accomplishment, and you wonder what all the fuss you made was for.
    Just a thought. Good luck Marste

  8. Lola (and CBTish), that was a really interesting post. Although I’ve had the experience of everything being ok after the fact, I have to admit that my revelations have always been hard-fought-for and hard-won. I don’t think I’ve ever had a calm realization (although wow, I might kill for one of those! Ha!). The last time I really resolved something, it involved 2 days of blinding rage, followed by about 4 hours of hysterical crying and writing. And then, yeah. The fourth hour ticked over, and it was like a switch flipped. I got it. And it was ok. So I guess it’s not the revelation I’m dreading so much as the emotional upheaval needed to get there. It’s not the rat I dread so much as the battle with it. Does that make more sense?

    And CBTish, I think I just sort of responded to your comment when I responded to Lola’s! 🙂 (And yes, your comment made perfect sense to me!) I want to add though, that I think it’s not so much a part of myself I want to kill, as the fear that accompanies whatever that is. It’s funny this comes up now: I was commenting on a blog the other day about how I had heard fear referred to as an acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. THAT is the part I want dead. I want the false evidence OUT. (And I recognize that even if I’m successful in that, there will always be new FEAR, new False Evidence. But I’m tired of dealing with this particular one, you know?)
    And I get what you’re saying about the metaphors, too. Maybe that’s why I had such a hard time with CBT when I went through it: I tend to think about EVERYTHING in metaphors and pictures, and find that it really helps me clarify what I’m doing/thinking/feeling. It sort of gets me far enough away to SEE it, and then I can dive back into the situation. Like drawing up blueprints before I build a house, or looking at a map before I leave on a trip. I still have to BUILD the house or experience the trip; but I have a better perspective of where I’m at and where I’m going.

    Nuturing Hope, it’s an interesting question. I guess it depends on (as I’m reading the comments and thinking about them) whether the rat is really the root cause, or whether it’s straight-up fear. Although then again, I suppose that one could make friends with both, right?

    Sassy, as I’m writing, I think that’s true. I think that maybe what I’m more afraid of (as I said to Lola and CBTish) is of the process of transforming that rat into something harmless. I’m more afraid of confronting the fear I think, than of the issue itself (whatever that might be).

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