Tag Archives: Addiction

Coffee, wine & sex

I told D he was not allowed over for at least two days. I really need to recuperate. I have once again started up with my coffee binge (that’s two espressos a day instead of my usual one). That’s not good in itself as it leads to dizziness. But then when I go and add alcohol and sex to the mix (and lack of sleep) it becomes lethal. It’s only a matter of time before I run myself into the ground. I actually left Kelly’s class twice this morning because of dizziness. I thought I was going to pass out or die.

She talked about “balance” in class today, about the importance of balance and how your mind, not just your physical body, needs to work extremely hard to achieve physical balance. When I start eating junk and drinking excessive amounts of coffee, I am truly upsetting the balance. Mind, body, spirit; all of them are affected. I need to pull back, rest, and reset my mind to focus on balance.

I’m currently reading: “Buddhism for the West.” It’s a rather old book and smells horribly old too. But it’s good. It talks about clasping your hands together to pray or bow. How that symbolizes the “coexistence of two inseparable worlds…two aspects of one Cosmic life.” I liked that. It leads me to believe that the strife, imbalance and addiction, at times, inside me, belongs there, but can be quelled and coexist with the more peaceful side of who I am.

Dream of the week: bees and recovering alcoholics

Alex2_Wicker_Man-500

I slept like crap last night and nearly had a panic attack. When I finally did go somewhat under, I dreamed that I was being attacked by bees. They were covering my entire body and head as if I were a beekeeper, and the only way to get rid of them was to dive into a pool. D and I were covered together and constantly trying to hide from these bees.

I woke up, took aspirin for a bad headache, and fell back to sleep. In the morning I dreamed that I was in a huge parking garage in New York City which had many exits leading to the street, but some you had to walk through malls or bars to get out. I was with a bunch of business men and decided we we’d go through a bar before heading home and once inside, Alcoholics Anonymous was having some kind of convention. Everyone was drinking juice except this one guy. He looked much like BJ and he was drinking beer in a shots glass. Everyone was trying to convince him to quit drinking and he kept laughing at them saying, “you think your ways are right, but I’m the one that’s happy…”

More on Pernille

I honestly thought I would not hear from  Pernille Rose Grønkjær again, after several months of no contact, but I received a wonderful e-mail from her this morning regarding the film. Quite surprisingly, she had sent me both the trailer and the pilot, which included her interview with me and George as well as interviews with other therapists and professionals like Pia Mellody, author or Facing Love Addiction and The Intimacy Factor. 

This is not the actual documentary. I still don’t know if I will be included in the documentary. What this is, rather, is a teaser for submission to the Danish Film Institute so as to get them interested in funding the film.

As much as I would love to share her work here and post the trailer, I will not.  I do feel as though I was somewhat misrepresented. I do not fault Pernille for this. I think she has an idea for her film in her mind and she is pulling only those lines of mine essential for her vision– she is not, however, creating a clear picture of “me.” 

I have to say that when I watched the trailer (not so much the pilot) I felt a little sad for myself. It portrays me in a much darker, more desperate light than I view myself. It’s surreal to see how others interpret mine and George’s behavior. It makes me seem dangerous and “pathological,” whereas that was not the case at all in my real relationship to George. Yes, I clocked a few more hours of obsessing over him than I’d like to admit, but my way of managing his rejection was to leave him, to run away. Not to chase after him or call him incessantly (actually, he would do that to me). The professionals, however, that pop up in between segments of George and I, describe love addiction as this desperate, “pathological” behavior where love is a fantasy only in the mind of the love addict, not shared. They relate behavior as stalking, chasing and so on as characteristic of the “disease.” Though that is true in many cases, it is absolutely false in my case. George and I loved each other mutually. He wasn’t going any where. And if he did, he was free to. Many times I was quite happy to be rid of him, actually. But, he never ran away or broke up with me. He was, however, unavailable in certain ways (not emotionally, ironically, but physically). The way this stuff manifested itself in me was that I knew he was not a good choice for me, but I stayed anyway. Or rather, I kept going back. And the only reason I went back, was because he made it so easy for me and wanted me back. I guess we were both quite lazy. But as for stalking or Fatal Attraction kinda stuff. I find that to be very ugly and scary and do not want to be viewed in such a light. 

I think part of the disconnect is that the therapists, though they touched deeply and exactly on certain issues, (that love addiction is very much about fantasy, not about love) they hyperbolized other characteristics of this issue (the stalking, the pathology, the danger etc.). There are of course those extreme variety of love addicts that will commit these more anti-social behaviors, but I would have to say that most love addicts are simply burdened by obsessive thinking and worry (this is the case with me). They have low self-esteem and allow men to treat them badly, but they are rather passive in their behavior and do not have that desperation to chase or hunt down. I think the key word here is “passive,” and I would even go as far as to say “submissive”. Most people who can be written into this kind of diagnosis are passive and/or submissive, and simply make bad choices based on insecurity and low self-esteem.  At least that was my case.  George’s love of me was quite controlling. If he said jump, I said “how high?” He stripped me of my identity on the one hand, on the other, he brought out beautiful things in me and helped me through a lot- as I did for him. But I do not know many women who are overly aggressive or actually attack men and go after them.

As per the documentary, I believe Pernille wants to focus on these latter, extreme cases. And well she should. Drama sells. She wants to make a film that people not only respect, but fear. She wants to shock. But what troubles me deeply is that I do not relate to this kind of behavior, nor do I want to be perceived in that way. There are MANY different varieties of behavior. Not all women (and men for that matter) behave the same way. And so too, there are different stages of development as well. I’d like to think that I am a little more advanced than some of these cases where the police are called in. Ew. Ugly. Gosh, I’m even thinking of that scene in “He’s Just Not That Into You” where Gigi misreads Alex’s signals and thinks he wants her. She hops in his lap at the very end of his party when no one is around and practically rapes the poor guy. He responds by pushing her off and saying something like, “whoa babe, you got the wrong idea.” I can thankfully say I have NEVER made that same mistake, or anything remotely like it.

I mean truth be told, the whole George-thing may have merely been some sort of “post-traumatic-stress” reaction to the dissolution of my marriage. My marriage was abusive. it was dramatic. It was filled with rage and pain and suffering. Coming from both parties. George was mellow, peaceful, hard working. We never fought. I was disgruntled, but willing to put up with no sex for the sake of that kind of peace. 

I think as far as a “main message” is concerned, Pernille focuses too much on love addiction as it relates to the relationship between the couple and how one or the other acts out. This is not accurate. Love addiction is really about avoidance of the Self, not, as you might think, obsession with some guy. Like the “avoidant” who avoids dealing with his partner in a relationship, the love addict, avoids dealing with his or herself via the focus of someone else. We so often tend to see these two (the love addict and avoidant) at opposite extremes of the spectrum and yet, they are two different sides of the same coin. In order to understand “love addiction” we must understand that it is merely a mode to avoiding the pain of the Self. Just as alcohol is not the underlying cause of alcohol addiction (it’s only the vehicle or the symptom), the same can be said for the person a love addict is addicted to. The person, the relationship is not the problem. the Self experiencing the relationship is. 

I will have to say that my “work” with Pernille has been extremely eye-opening and enlightening. She is a brave, artistic and inspiring woman, and I am fortunate enough to have gotten to know her. I plan on helping her further with the film (as she has asked)  and I am so glad I am at a place in my life where I can help.

We all suffer at times. We all struggle,  feel pain or insecurity in different areas of our lives. To overcome those difficulties is to climb mountain. I still cannot say I have perfected myself in the area of love and relationships. But I do feel quite proud of how far I have come, how high I have climbed. And how peaceful knowing that I can help others along the way. I believe that Pernille and I share that basic hope. That through the telling of my story, and through the creation of her documentary, together we can help many woman better understand not so much their relationships, but rather, themselves.

Self-involution

I’m so done with questioning my behavior. Following myself around with a clip board, checking off indiscretions. Relapses. Slips. Oops. You fucked up there. Ugg. And there. There too. If I read one more self-help book on “normal behavior,” I’ll shoot somebody. There’s the paradox. I know too much. I know how to be perfect. 

Rather, I now know how others define normal and perfect. I see the world define it. And I see how poorly I stack up. According to Dale Carnegie and Anthony Robbins and all those other, happy, perfect self-help freaks, I have failed. I am an example of what not to be.

I am ugly.

Well. I don’t want to be ugly anymore. I don’t want to be labeled anything anymore. I don’t want to identify myself with any certain group of people anymore. I don’t want to believe any longer that my thoughts are “diseased,” or distorted or that I can only be validated through a set of patterns that classify me as addict; borderline; obsessive; freak. That only God can make me right.

I am right. Just this way.

I am a girl. Just that. Filled with shame and love and weakness and strength. Bitterness, happiness, hurt, regret, joy, lust, hope, anger, need, peace, fear, curiosity, pain, pleasure.

I am unique. Not too unique. 

Proud. Narcissistic. Shy. Submissive. Good. Real. 

I can take the world on my knees. Lying on my back. On all fours. Standing up. 

I can take it like a man.  I can swallow.

I can take it with bowed head and out stretched arms. 

I can beg. And still have dignity.

B, the drop dead gorgeous alcoholic drug rep

…and other squalid derivatives of human character.


T, the love addicted, fiftysomething-year-old, married diner waitress who chases after taken-men.

H, the sex addicted insecure financial advisor who’s screaming on the inside for love and recognition.

I, (leave her out of this)

S, the self-loathing, well-educated, pithy talker who has the creative intelligence of a master craftsman, but looks like a homeless person.

C, the narcissistic closet-homo sycophant whose loneliness is too dismal for me to comprehend. 

O, the barbiturate popper.

U, who thinks she knows everything bullshit and her egocentric, parasitic life. Stay away from her. 

L, the eccentric 83-year-old, hunch-backed old lady who lives in squalor and smells like cat piss.

D, the dead-beat anti-social porn addict who wastes his life away sitting in front of a computer, rubbing one off to pictures of amateur submissives. 

B, cradled in the belly of innocence…you make no sense.

E, you sociopathic narcissistic manic-depressive alcoholic pill popping gambler & sex addicted fuck. Fuck you. 

Y, the emotionally detached, peter-panish soft-hearted bad guy misanthrope.

O, the trailer-park trash gold-digging whore

U, the bottomless pit

On Meeting Pernille

So G and I went up to Princeton on Wednesday and met Pernille (see below for more information) and her lovely assistant Gina. My only regret was that I did not take pictures. I could shoot myself for that. But anyway…it was absolutely lovely.

We had lunch at the Alchemist & Barrister, a place G plays at every Wednesday night. The four of us talked and talked and talked and by one in the afternoon, we were sitting on the lawn of Princeton University, hooked up with mics, telling the camera of our old romance and what it has been like for me to be a love addict. Possibly the nicest thing that came out of it all (as there’s no guarantee that we will be chosen to continue in her project) was the tenderness that G exposed for me in front of strangers and the camera. At one point I began to cry and he hugged me, and said, it’s OK, T. There I was, vulnerable, revealing horribly embarrassing secrets about myself in front of him and he accepted it all. It has pretty much always been that way between us, and yet…we have never been able to overcome our difference. Those four pesky issues of his that I cannot seem to accept in my life. Nor probably ever will.

Anyway, I believe Pernille and Gina were pleased with what they caught on tape. At one point, tears filled Pernille’s eyes as I talked about what love addiction “feels like.” I likened it to that old video we all saw back in high school psychology class…the experiment with the three monkeys. One was raised by his mum, another by a surrogate clorox bottle covered in fur that rocked, and a third was raised his whole life with only a plastic clorox bottle, food and water. Isolated since birth, he did not even a blanket for warmth. The poor little thing sat in its cage and rocked back and forth, holding onto itself, whimpering and eventually died very early. I said, that’s what it feels like.

She asked us questions like “how did you two meet?” “why did you break up?” “why do you think you were addicted to each other?” and so on. They laughed at the way we still share food. The way we touch each other. How we smiled and laughed while we were together. They wanted to know the exact time-line of our affair.

Well, we dated three years. Sort of. There was MB in there for awhile and then, of course, S. Not to mention Carmela, the fifty-something-year-old, married waitress from the diner who’s madly in love with G. A lot of players circling around us. But most peculiar is that G and I are NOT dating, nor have we dated since January, 2007. So as far as time-lines go, it’s not a straight line like time to a Westerner. It’s more circular, like Dakota time or Cherokee time.

“We never fight,” G said. “We love each other but just cannot seem to get past certain things.” That’s easy for him to say.

He’s talking about vices. His vices, and how I can’t accept the lovely miss Mary Jane in my life. And there are other barriers as well. Things I won’t go into here. Things that I finally realized made for a bad partnership.

When you have things such as strong communication, healthy emotion, music, a shared love of many things, humor and mutual love and respect, it makes it really hard to walk away. But there’s a balancing act that “normal” people seem to do. They take all those good things and say, “that’s great, but I can’t put up with the bad stuff.” Normal people look at the whole picture. A love addict can’t do that. She sees only what she wants to see. She overlooks the bad and then regrets it and 2 years down the road she says, “what the hell am I doing? I’ve been starving myself and for what?”

A love addict takes that man and does not accept him as just a man. She turns him into Christ. God. Her Savior. And then when he abandons her, she repeats over and over, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

She takes on his identity and then wonders what to do when he is not in her presence, a la Scarlet O’Hara, “Oh Rhett! What’ll I do? Where’ll I go?”

Worst of all, she forgets who she is. Submersed in the very heart of that man, she loses her values, her opinions, her boundaries, her likes and dislikes. She loses her soul.

And then when she wakes up one day and says I gotta get the hell out of here, she realizes she’s got no where to go. So she stays.  The man is not a man anymore. The man is a “hit,” of her drug. He is her defense mechanism. Her way out of her ugly life. The man is not a man anymore. He is a tool used to suppress pain and to avoid reality at all cost. And thus, he begins to define her addiction.

The last question Pernille, or rather, Gina posed was, “how did you get over this addiction? What inside you changed to make you see the light, so to speak?”

Oh yes. Hallelujah. The light. The conclusion. Well, I am not addicted to G anymore. Nor anyone else for that matter. But God never came down and parted the seas and said to me, T, it’s time to change…and I never saw this bright shining light nor had my moment of spiritual surrender. My path was a little less dramatic than that, and a little more boring. It was a long road. G helped me get through a lot by remaining my friend. My ex S helped me get through a lot. But mostly, I came to terms with being alone, slowly. Day by day.

When S and i split, I literally locked myself in my room and cried for 5 days. I did not eat. I did not move. I did nothing. I raised the dead (in me, that is). I made peace with the emptiness. I said over and over again, it’s high time that this moment has come. It’s here now. You’ve been waiting for it. Seize it. And I did. I did so by doing nothing. And I got used to it. And though I entered into that state confused and scared and fearful of being alone, I came out the other end OK. And that was that. My moment. You see, that’s what it’s all about for a love addict or an alcoholic or drug addict or anyone else for that matter with serious defense mechanisms. We try to avoid the emptiness at all costs. We’ll do anything to avoid the pain of reality. And eventually, it catches up with you and says, “it’s time.”

But the hard work had begun years ago when I first met G, and it continues today. I came to terms with my own personal values and I began to find my own identity for the first time. I made boundaries and I upheld them. I demanded better things for myself. I sought out people who tended to share more of my values. Mostly, I realized my worth. Plain and simple. And the only way to do that was and still is in solitude. It is in the solitude that you have your own thoughts, uncluttered. You have no where to turn but inward. You can finally see your identity clearly.

Alice Walker in the The Color Purple has this great line: “you gotta git man off your eyeball before you can see anything at all.” And the only way to do that is find god. Find you. Make peace with the nothingness.

We left by 2:30 and hugged and they were off to NYC and then LA. Traveling across the country to meet possibly hundreds of others with similar issues as me. Their project is vast and I may never see or hear from them again, and yet…they truly touched my life. Pernille’s project is my project. My life. It represents the struggle I have undergone as an artist to accomplish something for myself. And seeing her joy and hard work, it has inspired me to continue with my own projects and my own writing.

I hope to keep posting on this topic. And to keep doors open…

About Pernille:

Acclaimed director Pernille Rose Grønkjær (born in 1973) has been working with documentary films for the past 10 years. Her latest feature documentary “The Monastery – Mr. Vig and the Nun” had its US premiere at the esteemed Sundance Film Festival 2007. Since then the film has travelled to about 60 festivals the world over. It has won 14 awards from Sydney to Moscow, including the prestigious Joris Ivens Award in Amsterdam, and recently The Cinema Eye Award in New York. The film was also nominated for best documentary at The Spirit Awards in Los Angeles, California 2008.
The Monastery, by  Pernille Rose Grønkjær

From the over-stimulated mind of a coffee drinker

I recently realized I am nothing without coffee. That’s a hard pill to swallow being that I am so anti-drug and into real, real, real. Handle the pain of life without any life-lines or methods of escapism. Of course, I judge myself lightly. I make great excuses for my habit. Coffee doesn’t kill brain cells (or does it?). Coffee doesn’t cause miscarriage and birth-defects (well…miscarriages yes). Coffee doesn’t change my brain or my way of thinking (hmmm…when I don’t have it I can’t hold a conversation longer than 3 minutes and quite frankly, I have no motivation to do anything without it. Not to mention that one double-espresso at the right time of day can turn me into a Super Hero.) 

But, despite not causing hallucinations or leading me to believe I can fly or that the walls are moving, coffeeis a drug. A powerful one. Possibly a dangerous one.

“Within five minutes after you drink your morning coffee, the caffeine begins to stimulate your central nervous system, triggering the release of stress hormones in your body, causing a stress (“fight or flight” ) response. The stress hormones are useful if you need to prepare yourself to fight or flee a dangerous situation, but if you are simply sitting at your desk you may feel a short charge of alertness, quickly followed by feelings of agitation. Within the next hour or so, after the stress response dissipates, you will probably feel more tired and hungry. At these low-energy times, many people reach for another cup of coffee, or eat a snack that is often high in sugar to “pep up” and stay alert. However, both caffeine and sugar only give you temporary feelings of increased energy, which quickly dissipate. For some people, this cycle of low energy followed by an infusion of caffeine or food continues the entire day — leaving them feeling exhausted and unable to focus by 3:00 p.m. because they are drained from the ups and downs in energy their body endured throughout the day.” 
Active Wellness By Gayle Reichler MS RD CDN, page 12

According to Stephen Cherniske MS in his book Caffeine Blues, “‘Caffeinism’ is a state of chronic toxicity resulting from excess caffeine consumption. Caffeinism usually combines physical addiction with a wide range of debilitating effects, most notably anxiety, irritability, mood swings, sleep disturbance, depression, and fatigue.” Of course, this leads to the paradox of thinking you are increasing your energy when in actuality you are depleting your natural energy stores. 

Coffee has been associated with, among the above listed issues, miscarriage, psychological affects such as hyperesthesia, ulcers, gastric problems, hyperactivity, heart palpitations and adrenal exhaustion. (http://www.garynull.com/documents/CaffeineEffects.htm).

So, that being said, you might want to re-think that morning cup of joe and switch to decaf. I know I’ve been brewing the idea for quite some time. And if it weren’t for my pesky addictive behavior,  I just might be able to brave the world without that hit of escapism.