Last night (Tue 27th Aug) was interesting. I attended my regular 12 Steps fellowship meeting. By the time I arrived, I was feeling quite tired, so I downed a cup of strong coffee to perk myself up.
A quiet voice in the back of my mind said:
Hmm, so you’re using a substance to change the way you feel? Interesting – that’s familiar, isn’t it.
That seems to be at the core of my various addictions: using a substance, activity or person in an effort to change the way I feel.
Most people would agree that a reliance on coffee is less serious than using potent narcotics… but for me it’s still part of the same issue… the illness of addiction.
I can foresee a time at some point in the future, after I’ve dealt adequately with my more serious addiction issues, where I decide I want to live without relying on caffeine as a stimulant.
Rather than trying to change how I feel, I want to get into the habit of noticing and accepting how I currently feel, even if it’s not particularly positive. This seems important: both for my recovery from addiction and also to keep me on my spiritual path. I have a strong inner knowing that running away from myself is not conducive to harmonising all aspects of my being.
As the meeting progressed, alongside the delightful spiritual renewal which I always get from these meetings, I could feel my social anxiety coming back. DAMN!
Partly I knew it was because I was so tired, but I also could tell there was something else going on, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.
Pretty soon, my unhelpful internal monologues (“scripts”) were going full pelt. It had been so nice recently barely having to deal with those negative voices – they’ve been almost entirely absent. Last night they were whispering something like this:
Hide. Make yourself small. Don’t make eye contact. You’ve lost the connection you had to these people. Maybe it was never really there. Why would they want to be friends with you anyway – you’re so different from most of them? They’re only being nice to you out of politeness. You’re fat. You don’t fit into your trousers properly. They will have noticed you’re less chatty today and they’re judging you for it. The girls think you’re gross. Yes, your social anxiety is back. That’s it now, you’ll never get that beautiful flow state back again. You’re feeling sad. You should feel sad. You’re pathetic.
Looking at the way my inner critic was talking to myself, it’s no wonder I was feeling bad, despite the wonderful events which unfolded at the meeting outside of my head.
Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the above internal monologue at the time, it was only after the meeting when I was reflecting on the day’s events and trying to work out why I felt so bad.
And I reminded myself: I don’t have to listen to these critical internal voices any more. I don’t need to give them any power.
And I resolved to returning my focus back to what I know has been working for me… Awareness, Attention and Acceptance.
I wasn’t feeling great, but you know what? That’s OK. I just accepted how I felt. I noticed the feelings and allowed them to pass in their own time. I stopped resisting how I felt. I took some deep, calming breaths. And I resolved to return my focus back to the real work… locating and attending to the next important thing, whatever that may be.
And soon, I felt better.
After a reasonable sleep last night (still too short, but better than before), I felt back on an even keel again. Luckily I’ve still got all the positives from my spiritual awakening – my fears of losing them were unfounded… at least for now. I’m pleased to say that those negative internal monologues have barely dared to make an appearance today. Good, they can fuck off. I don’t need that shit any more. I’m born again [though probably not in the Evangelical Christian sense]
I’m a bit less manic now (compared to a few days ago); I feel calmer, more measured. It seems like the psychosis is reducing in intensity.
Maybe at some point soon I will lose all the positives too. That will feel very sad. I will grieve for the loss of this bliss, but I will also accept that everything happened the way it was supposed to. And if the bliss does disappear, it might not be the end… maybe it will come back again one day too.
I’m determined to just enjoy the good parts while they last and accept whatever happens, good or bad.
The more I accept the “lows” rather than resisting them, the more likely it is that (sooner or later) I’ll slip back into the delicious flow state.