There’s a raging self-doubting demon running around in my head today and I am not enjoying being me at all. I haven’t enjoyed being me very much this year, and I am so tired of it. There is nothing materially wrong with things today, except for my feelings. The thoughts and feelings in my head are the only things that have ever been wrong with me. So many years of pointless pain and angst have shown that to be true, yet I keep waking up every day and forgetting it. I keep mistaking free floating fear for a sign that something is about to go horribly wrong in my life. In reality nothing terrible has happened today, but I feel like it is the end of the world, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Of course there always have to be triggers for the fear and pain. Financial woes, romantic attachments, social situations, all of these continue to press my buttons regularly. It is my predisposition to react negatively to these triggers that matters. In recovery I have noticed this really pervasive habit of getting blown away by my emotional responses to triggers. That is my problem in a nutshell, it is where my recovery has to take place, and I don’t know what to do about it. For an alcoholic like me to say that he has a tendency to get carried away with his emotions is hardly new or profound, you hear it said in AA meetings all the time. Everyone has a tendency to be overly fearful and angry in response to trigger situations, we wouldn’t be in the rooms if that wasn’t our problem. But for some strange reason, though I have known the truth about my problem for years, I am only just beginning to feel that it is the truth. Weird as that sounds, it is the only way I can explain what I am experiencing today.
I am slowly being forced into awareness of the sickness in my head, many months after I officially finished working the twelve steps. It seems that finishing the steps was merely the key to the door to awareness: upon completion of step twelve I was given the choice to step through the door for the first time. That was never meant to be the end of my journey, it was only the beginning. That is the hardest thing about what I am going through now. My journey’s only just starting, and I wish I was at least ten years further down the line, so I could look back and see proper recovery behind me rather than the two meager years I have just struggled through.
Today was definitely another one of those days when I got out the wrong side of bed. It’s not always easy to tell why some days are like that and others aren’t. Before I mentioned the necessary presence of triggers, well today’s triggers might include the weather, the nagging feeling that I haven’t done enough writing this week, the ongoing insecurity around unemployment. Over the years I’ve written so much on this blog about the behavioural effects of feeling like I got out of the wrong side of bed: the powerful desire to isolate, the anger directed towards myself for being such a sick individual, anger at others for appearing to be more ‘together’ than me. Anger has been a big part of my story; paranoia seems to be growing in importance at the moment. I can’t seem to walk down the street this week without thinking that everyone is looking at me, judging my gait, laughing at me for being so ugly and strange. This isn’t my first brush with paranoia, though it’s been a while since it was last so prominent in my psyche, and as a consequence it can feel like I’ve never been as paranoid before as I am now.
I don’t know why paranoia is playing such a significant part in my life again. It could be another rebound effect from my abrupt cessation of anti-depressant medication earlier this year, it could be a sign that things are generally getting on top of me at the moment, or it could just be a random mood blip. I want to believe that there’s a reason, that there’s a solution to the problem just waiting to be found. If I could pluck up the courage to find a new sponsor in the program, if I could work the steps again, maybe that would be an answer. If I could make up my mind about whether to go back on anti-depressants or not, maybe that would also be an answer. But the paranoia keeps telling me that there is no answer, that nothing I do will work. The intrinsic nature of paranoia means that it won’t let me trust anything that appears to be a solution.
So for now, I still don’t know what to do. Right now, in this moment, there is technically nothing I can do. It’s late in the evening, I’m pretty tired and none of these problems can be solved just by me thinking about them anyway. So I ought to let it be and let go, but after two years of recovery and thousands of AA meetings in each of which I’ve heard the phrase ‘let go’ at least once, I can’t just let go and stop thinking about it. I don’t want to let go, that’s the truth. The very first time I came across step 3 and its full implications I knew I’d have trouble wanting to let go. Two years down the line, when it really matters, barely any headway has been made with wanting to let go. God, why oh why can’t I do this one simple thing?