Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 22 of 25: into the trenches this blog post goes

 “It’s like a man in the trenches
again: he doesn’t know any more why he should go on living, because
if he escapes now he’ll only be caught later, but he goes on just
the same, and even though he has the soul of a cockroach and has
admitted as much to himself, give him a gun or a knife or even just
his bare nails, and he’ll go on slaughtering and slaughtering, he’d
slaughter a million men rather than stop and ask himself why.”

Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Yes, this week's blog post feels like we are going into the trenches. What does that mean anyways? "To go into the trenches?" I always took it to mean, that what is happening right now is not going to be pleasant. After all, the trenches are the front line of battle. The place one is most likely to get hit by some shrapnel and die a slow and painful death.

Coming up with a topic to blog about this week feels like I'm dying a slow and painful death. I just can't seem to get a topic off the ground, as in sustain the idea for longer than 250 words. I know you are surprised because I never seem at a loss for something to talk about. And you would be correct, it's not that I don't have anything to talk about, I'm just not sure i have anything to talk about that seems blog worthy this week. I got lots of stuff written that is not blog worthy!! But that doesn't exactly help me, now does it?!

Don't believe me? Well here we go...let's start with some Carl Jung...the shadow self..."its nature can in large measure be inferred from the contents of the personal unconscious...the shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapeutic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period." (Aion: Phenomenology of the Self, II The Shadow).

And a more simple way of saying this...
Yes, my path of self-knowledge has been taking some interesting turns lately. I've really started thinking about my relationship with pain. The idea to explore this relationship came from my acceptance of the fact that I enjoy, to some extent, inflicting pain on myself. One day, I looked around and noticed I was surrounding myself with a lot of people who like to "run through the pain". I mean I'm spending time with people who run on sprained ankles and run with pneumonia (a little messed up, yes). Then I'm listening to stories of runners finishing races with dislocated hips. And then I look at myself and think, how many times have I "run through the pain"? And why is this acceptable pain? But me say cutting myself is unacceptable pain? And why do I even need this pain in the first place? What is my attraction to this physical pain?

Well, next thing you know, I'm headed to the used bookstore and picking up a bunch of books on addiction and recovery theory because I'm convinced that running for me, and many of the people I associate with, is an addiction. And you maybe are reading this and thinking, yeah but it's a good addiction, this running, so it's all good.

But addiction is just not good no matter what it is. And last week's blog post, I made light of my addiction to the pain but this week, I'm feeling way more serious about it all. And me being serious, does not lead to popular blog posts but I'm going to ignore that statistic and keep on this messed up tangent because there is a competition going on and I refuse to give up just because I have nothing light and fluffy to write about! Damn you Chris! (fist shake to the gods).

I don't want to run through pain because I want to keep running as long as possible, and so when I take breaks from running I need to find my pain fix elsewhere. And let's face it, this isn't going anywhere pleasant. Hence the name of this blog post! So WTF is with my need to get my fix on by inflicting pain on myself?

Well, if we look at addiction theory, most addicts form addictions as a replacement for social bonds, which are lacking from their life. To be clear, social bonds of the unconditional love variety. The bonds that are necessary for the healthy development of a child. As all those monkey studies showed, you know the one where the baby monkey were given a mom to hold them, one group was given a fake monkey mom to hold them and another group was given nothing to comfort them. And guess what? The monkeys with no one (real or fake) to comfort them and give them warmth ended up going nuts and killing themselves. Or bashing their heads into their wire cages until they crushed their skulls (which was interpreted as going nuts and killing themselves). Whatever the outcome, it wasn't pleasant. Much like how this blog post is turning out.
Fake love is better than nothing!
Anyways, my point is, we are not monkeys. No we are much smarter than that. See we don't kill ourselves or bash our heads into oblivion (ok maybe some of us), no we substitute the warmth and comfort with an addiction. And hey, maybe the best we can hope for in life is this poor substitute of love. That is an addition to ___ (you fill in the blank with whatever suits your needs). Is that running? Well hey, that's better than crack right? Yes, but unlike you, my perfectionist self demands a hell of a lot more out of me. I do not want to settle for that poor substitution of love!

Honestly, it can be exhausting being me. But I actually prefer me, because as I watch you drink yourself stupid again, just because it is a Saturday night and you are still alone and unhappy, despite all the Saturdays you go out drinking and trying to pick up, I just can't help but think, that your life, what drives you to drink and be with anyone (your automatic adherence to life's rituals of getting wasted on Saturday and trying to find a partner), I so don't want that. What can I say, I've never been one for the herd mentality. Yeah, I was always good with just getting wasted whenever I felt like it, it didn't matter what day it was really.

I bet when you are fighting in the trenches it doesn't matter what day it is either, you just fight because you have to.

And that is my point! (yes there is one, and I'm getting there!) You are an addict, and you can make up whatever little social rituals you want to justify your addictive behaviour, but that is what you are and maybe now is the time to admit that. Or not. I guess you don't have to either. I can't force you into a quest for self-knowledge. Maybe you enjoy running around this life, stressed out about stuff that is going to happen anyway and cope by self-medicating with whatever socially acceptable norm is available to you in your lifetime. I don't know. I'm not sure why one decides not to explore why they do the things they do.

All I know is that me and my shadow self are getting acquainted over here.  And no it is not the champagne cocktail bubbly awesomeness that we all thought it would be. Actually, I think as we saw in the above quote, that no one actually thinks this self-exploration is going to be good times. In fact this relationship building with the shadow self is to embrace the pain inside you instead of resist it (like a normal self-medicating person would!).

Hey! My shadow self is kind of hot! Sweet!
So where am I at right now. I'm embracing the pain. I'm done resisting it. There are no coping strategies being used to mask the pain that is me. No more drinking, no more running through pain, no having a boyfriend to distract me from myself, just the pure unadultrated pain of accepting myself for who I am.

Mortal. A human being.

So I say bring on that painstaking journey of self-knowledge. It's going to be a long, at times hellish, but overall a fascinating and rewarding ride.

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