Friday, March 30, 2007

Addiction?

I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I discovered the liberal/progressive blogs. I spent many wonderful hours reading and conversing with intelligent adults. I ate up so much wonderfully astute political commentary that taught me so much. I reveled in the in depth discussions on so many topics I was hungry to discuss with civil, reasonable folks.

How I admired those who had the tech skills and fortitude to set up and take on running the "Community" blogs, and yes, grateful for them too, as one who is mobility limited and can no longer move so easily around the outside world. The internet is a literally blessing to people like me: it widens horizans endlessly. I had this long list of blogs I visited daily. You get familiar with folks who write on regularly visited blogs: many you come to respect over time.

You can get very attached to online "communities", to the point where they seem almost more real that the life one lives in the face to face world. As a recovering alcoholic, I can clearly identify the periods in my own blogging history, where "addiction" was the only accurate term to describe my own behaviors.

In fact some of those memories now make me cringe a bit. (Ok, ok, a lot! ) Like actually having physical withdrawal symptoms like sweaty hands and increased anxiety, when my dial up connection went down or my computer fell ill. Or the days and days I didn't eat right, exercise enough, or get anything else done, because I couldn't tear myself away from the latest flame war or blog drama. Even if I wasn't participating in them, I HAD to read those threads all the way through to the bitter end, ever one of them, AND follow all the links to whatever "evidence" people were presenting of someone else's bad behaviors!

Far far into the night I'd sit, glued to the screen until some bodily pain or function would penetrate my brain enough to get my attention! (Uh oh! I seem to be frozen in place here..how AM I going to get off this chair?! ) Then fall into bed, only to awaken with the obsessive need to get back ONLINE to see what I'd missed while I slept, which, more often than I care to admit, meant most of another day hunched over this keyboard, especially when I WAS involved in whatever current conflict was happening. Oh, the "high" of besting someone with a really snarky insult! Or coming up with an winning point that clearly scored points!

During those internet binges of mine, the cat was lucky to even get dinner and I ate , when I remembered to eat, whatever I could hold in one hand while working the mouse with the other! Wasn't all that different than the old days, when drinking was more important to me than paying attention to my kids.

There were many uncomfortable, bleary eyed moments, when realizing another five hours, six hours, seven hours at a time had"disappeared" somehow, another whole day was gone..and I'd not done one thing BUT sit in front of this screen, I knew this was out of control. I'd vow to not DO this anymore! How stupid is it to spend ones life living out soap opera type dramas over and over and over?! Yet, invariably, in my worst of times, guess what? Yep. Just one more mouse click, check just once more to see if X or Y or Z has responded to my last clever jab, and.... oops..there goes some more life hours down the crapper.

And oh, the internal emotional misery all of this caused me at times! Over and over, (I see now, but couldn't see then!), old emotional triggers within would get tripped, and my reactions to whoever was online became all tangled up in unresolved reactions to real people or trauma, in my past..and I suffered the same old hurts over and over. Now I can see it wasn't much different than some forms of self abuse...to continue to subject myself to those who seemed to be mirror images of real people I had long ago detatched myself from, in order to get healthier!
Like picking open healed wounds, over and over again. Old patterns like this can get reactivated, I find, if I don't pay good enough attention to my own behaviors. And they did, big time, through the internet "bingeing" I was doing then.

Now that I have some distance from those days, I honestly can't see a whole lot of difference between the effects of my addictive internet behavior, and the effects of the genuine relapses back to active alcoholism I suffered for so many years before finally staying sober. The people in my face to face word got nothing of me. I didn't take decent care of my body or my mind. Nothing got done. Everything went south, except my driving need to read read read, type type type some more.

I'm better now, thank goodness. But just as with my a1coho1 addiction, I wi11 have to remain vigi1ent about not getting hooked back in. Because I am sort of 1ike this keyboard, on which the 1etter that comes before "m", has just quit working, having succumbed, apparent1y to one too many coffee spewings, forcing me to use the sma11 number "1" instead in order to finish this. I too, am not perfect, nor am I power1ess. I am vunerab1e to a11 sorts of human frai1ties 1ike everyone e1se is and I just need to remember this, and assume responsibi1ity for my own choices.

Now I sha11 view the 1oss of one of my 1etters as a "sign" it is now time for me to get up and go c1ean the 1itter box, so I can fee1 good about getting that done before I go out for 1unch with a friend, who actua11y has a face I can see!! :)

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