I loved what alcohol did for me. It brought me the excitement of a lover, really. That first high, that first time. It was fucking magical. And if I really examine my thirteen year drinking history, I can see that I chased the good time, the good fun and the release from the prison of my own mind, from that first night until my last. And I even found it on occasion.
Reviewing my history, examining for clues, mining for information seems to be what you do in your advancing years. Watching, looking, carefully reviewing all that came before to make sense of where you are now and how you got here.
It is a process.
What I realized this morning, in a way that I haven’t completely accepted before, was that drinking took many forms for me. And to a very large degree, I have still been chasing addictive highs just with differing formats all these years into recovery.
I do it with lots of things. Use them to make me feel different. Or the act of engaging with the person or activity makes me feel high. I know that I do it with shopping. I know that I do it with travel. I know, and now see on a much more granular level that I do it with men and dating.
It is a bit of a hard look to see that while I have been successful in putting down booze and drugs for a very long time, my addictive tendencies have just take root and branch and flourished in other directions. But the results are really the same. I chase the high that I got the very first time and then seek it out repeatedly until, well, until now.
And I am not even sure I want to try to stop. I mean, the rush and hit I get it is immense. Like it feels like it makes life worth living if I am honest. Everything else is just flat without the chasing, the pursuing, the collecting.
But I can see, in a new and painful way, that my addictive nature in the dating world has landed me in all the hot water in which I seem to find myself repeatedly. Using people to bring about a state of euphoria has it issues...for me and them. I have found that I can be lit up in a way that feels like love or something close to it, only to find that the loving like feeling I have for another fades without cause or reason. I mean sometimes it is another person that has caught my fancy, but often, it is just my mind being done with that particular person, and so, moving on.
And I can see how the way I have done relationships is problematic in new ways that I couldn’t before. But if I am honest, I am not sure I can or want to do it differently. The staying, the committing, the hard work of not just getting the dopamine hit and bouncing, is something that while I can see is problematic, feels like such a loss if I give it up.
I am 54. I have been using men to change the way I feel since I was like 10. That is 44 years I have given to the addiction of seeking attention and love like feelings from others. And I am not sure how to change that, or even if I really want to.
I like the new. I like the excitement and the possibility that new holds. And at the very same time, I see how my current mode of relating is never going to bring anyone lasting happiness, and that would absolutely include me.
I do not think that I know how to love a man. I know how to attract them, I know how to excite them, I know how to engage with them, but I do not believe I know how to love them, or commit to them or stay with them. Something happens to me when I say, “I am in” that causes me to begin to leave immediately. First in little ways, then in larger ones. And I know it while I am doing it but cannot conjure up enough courage to change the pattern before it is too late.
And then there is my whole issue with only picking men to love that I can see will never work out. I am a champion for lost causes, hopeless romances that promise the great rise but also the great fall. I can see that I have habitually and historically only selected men to love that I could see the ending of us from the very beginning.
For now, I am good not dating. I am sitting still and working on myself. Allowing the current situation to just be what it is. And to give some space and time to my life so that greater insights might have, not only enough time to surface, but to land.
I see it now, that while I haven’t drank in a very long time, I have kind of been drinking all along. It is just that instead of Jameson or Jack, I have been drinking men, shopping, travel, exercise, etc. as my new booze.
And I will say that this realization lands with the kind of thud in my heart and mind that creates a serious concern about my well-being, and those that might venture to close: unsuspecting men, Amazon delivery people, new exercises to do to mold my body in a way and manner that defies the passage of time.
I am humbled. And a bit bereft honestly. I see myself, and much like I did with drinking, have a decision to make: accept spiritual help or go on as best I can blotting out this existence to the best of my ability.
It is a toss up really.
And I feel only mildly in charge of any of it.
Awareness, acceptance, action.
I am in the second part of that process. I am aware that I “drink” even though I don’t “drink”. Now I have to let it land. To permeate my soul before I can ever get to the next question: “what the fuck are you going to do about it?”
Likely more of the same, if we look at my history. But as with booze, there is always hope for today. We change habitual, long standing patterns of dysfunctional behavior one day at at time. And that is the only way I have ever been able to change anything at all. Again, still.