I think that one of the most universal ingredients in addictions of all sorts, is a desire for control. Sometimes just an iota of control, and sometimes absolute omnipotence.
Miss Jackson sang about it
When I was a younger girl, I had some symptoms of OCD, as well as an eating disorder. (I wrestle with body dismorphic disorder, still) As I grew older, I became aware of the kind of relief I gained when I did my ocd things. It was a time and an activity that I could control. Same with the food. There were other motivations, of course (for the ed), but it all came back to attempting to have some kind of control over my life.
I suppose what it boils down to is trying to control the emotional pain. In my case, I was undiagnosed with depression from a young age, as well as the residual effects of having a rageful and quick-tempered parent. As a child of a child of an alcoholic, I had no control over much of anything until my parent’s divorce, and then I was left to fend for myself a lot of the time, while babysitting my younger brother. Yes, it was an average family situation as far as I could tell: Mom worked herself ragged, trying to provide for us (she did a great job, really), I watched my brother every afternoon, and Dad was only around often enough to keep Mom on edge. And no child support, to speak of. Pretty normal, right?
But I digress.
“I wanna make my own decisions. When it comes to livin my life…”
I wanted to be The One in control. Thankfully, I found the answer when I was about 15-16. My non-medicinal numbing activities weren’t completely doing the job, so when I was given an opportunity to “check out”, I jumped on it!
Oh what a relief
In one year’s time, I discovered Maker’s Mark (sicker than a dog, throwing up all the way home – what a glorious night!!), and after babysitting for an older schoolmate’s brother, I recieved a small bag of (skunk) weed in payment.
I’d stepped throught the looking glass, at that point. If I couldn’t control my life, I would begin finding various concoctions to help me stop being aware of it all. Somewhere between my freshman year in high school. and the end of sophomore year, I’d gotten more comfortable in my position in life. When I was high, the continual bullying didn’t hurt as much. After a few drinks, it didn’t bother me as much that my Dad had walked out on me.
Lunch money was never used for lunch; it paid for diet pills, maybe, unless I stole them. And the vast majority of money that passed through my hands – it was never much, mind you, but good drugs were cheaper then – went for pot or acid.
My peers at school began calling me “the acid lady”.
Today, I’m powerless.
The more I remember that “me having control” is an illusion, the easier my day goes. It’s difficult knowing where to draw the line, sometimes, especially as a parent. But besides the parenting gig, I’m content letting God be in charge. Shoot, I wish I wasn’t supposed to be navigating the waters in the role of Parent, a lot of the time.
What can I control?!
Only the stuff inside of my skin. That can be a daunting enough task, thank you.
Posted from my cabin in the mountains.