“restricting the rules” — that’s actually how I described what I’ve been doing, in conversation with a friend.
my personal tendency is always towards the restriction side of the addiction spectrum. some people overdo it with substances, I always restrict them or remove them entirely. examples: food groups, alcohol, drugs, over-the-counter medications, prescription meds, and so on.
I’ve been vegan, I’ve been anorexic, raw foodist, ‘ethical’ vegetarian, non-drinker, non-drug user…I’ve refused cold medicine, refused prescription medicine.
things I’ve never been: overeater, binger, alcoholic, drug-abuser, smoker, etc. I don’t even know if I could become any of those things- my personality is so oriented towards control. (when I was a teenager I smoked cigarettes freely…and never could get addicted.) Something as concrete as a substance is really easy to control (people, work, relationships, all much more difficult).
(doesn’t apply to coffee. :)
Not sure how it happened, but I had a realization that these substances I’ve been trying to control were symbolic, not practical.
So, my idea was to try relaxing the restrictions. or restricting the rules. I’ve got enough structure in my life.
(see the subconscious irony in the title phrase now?)
I had a bad cough last week- and when the homeopathic remedies weren’t working, I took nyquil. which was effective immediately and allowed me to sleep.
When bread and cheese and eggs sounded appetizing (even a little) I ate some. Even if primarily for the experience- to feel like I could participate in this normal communal thing that other people do all the time.
(doesn’t apply to meat or fish for me, which has been unappealing since I was a child).
I had some wine. a glass, on a few different nights. first time in nine years. and again, it was for the experience of connecting with friends, no longer holding myself apart as ‘not’ doing that. and it was nice. my original reasons for not drinking had become meaningless. i had once had this abstract idea about alcohol preventing one from being able to have spiritual insights…but the emotional/ mental/ psychological place in life I’m at had to be dealt with first- and connection with fellow humans seemed like a precursor to any sort of spiritual awakening.
my early reasoning for not drinking had become dogma.
I also know this: whichever ‘group’ of people you identify with will attract more of that type into your life. Who doesn’t drink? for the vast majority, it’s former alcoholics or control freaks like me.
I had this memory of a time in college: it was a class on performance art taught by Shannon Rose Riley. She was one of my most inspiring teachers during the college experience. And the project was to develop a persona. Develop this fully dimensional personality that you could wear for a day or a week- someone with a name and habits and clothing. Typically, what would emerge would be an aspect of yourself that was underpowered, held back, subconscious.
I worked with this personality I called Isadora. She was a sensual woman, who enjoyed things in life that I didn’t at the time, like luxury, croissants, sex, being feminine, being relaxed. She could be late for meetings and she could be messy. Then I was 22 years old, hyper controlled, vigilant about food, didn’t date because I couldn’t handle intimacy, and couldn’t stand any type of disarray.
(There’s a character on the tv show Glee, named Emma, who reminds me of myself at that time. Minus the cute skirts and twinsets.)
I think that persona project from Shannon’s performance art class helped me to safely integrate more of the adult woman potential into my life. A few months later I began dating again, began to outgrow the eating disorder (though that took many years), and otherwise permitted more fun and relaxation into my life.
the persona project was a great example of using one’s creative process and power to heal. imagine the desired outcome, then create it.
I’ve been doing a yoga therapy series for the past six months with a wonderful practitioner in portland, Susan Gallo. The yoga therapy addresses, on a physical level, all the restriction/ control/ fear-based stuff.
And I started thinking about the persona thing again. Describing on paper and through imagery who I would be if I had more emotional/ mental freedom in my life. hence many of the practical changes described above.