The Fanatic in the Attic

When I first came into recovery the thing that really killed me was realising that my thinking was haywire – that I was generally wrong about everything.

My ego was devastated by this newly apparent reality.

I had long prided myself in always being the smartest guy in the room often dismissing other people’s views on things. Generally I always thought I was right about practically everything and what I did know was hardly worth knowing.

I found out my dismissiveness was linked to my insecure attachment. I ended up being intolerant, arrogant and dismissive of others. It kept others at arm’s reach because I didn’t trust them.

The echos of childhood can reverberate for decades afterwards.

So finding out I was often completely wrong about stuff was devastating?

How could I be so wrong about stuff?

Especially I had built up over a life this façade always being right?

My counsellor asked me once “Would you rather be right or happy?

“Right of course” I replied.

I was rarely right about anything in the first months of recovery.

I could not grasp why I was so often wrong, how I kept completely misperceiving events or mistinterpreting people, their facial expressions, their tone of voice.

I would recount something to my sponsor,  he would listen and then give the version of events that actually occurred.

I despaired that I had turned into a cretin somehow?

When at wit’s end, this former intellectual genius was illuminated one day.

One day after group therapy in treatment – where 10 complete strangers take  seeming delight in telling you who are really as opposed to who you think you are – I was walking in a local park when I suddenly had this revelation that my thoughts were always leading me to a place of emotional pain.

It was as if my thoughts were out to get me, had sort of stopped  working for me and had decided to work against me instead.

My thought seemed to blame me for everything as if they were trying to get me to go ”to hell with it, let’s have a drink!”

The thoughts seemed to be the voice of a really negative self schema, mixed with my alcoholic voice that just wanted out of this strange alien world of sobriety and thought it would hassle me until I succumbed.  A world full of people who scared me, whom I did not trust.

I did not know how the hell to cope with this world sober and it scared the hell outta me.

The thoughts were fraught, negative, self loathing, they seemed to contain fragments of the reasons why I drank in the first place and the reasons why I drank years after.

There was a maelstrom of unresolved issues and negative ideas of self mixed up in a strange brew with the motivation voice of my addiction which just wanted to drink.

It was no wonder I drank, with this discordant cacophony of mangled thoughts and harsh voices blaring way.

When I rang my sponsor, with news of this revelation , he was so delighted for me.

At how I had managed to disassociate me from these thoughts. He said these are the thoughts of your illness.

I imagined these voices coming from an alcoholic on a park bench who alone and skint with no means of getting more alcohol. Whinging and criticising, desperate and self loathing, life hating…

This had been my illness constantly jibbering away,  trying to demoralize me..

He told me the 12 steps would help deal with these thoughts although they never go away completely.

It was such a breakthrough in early recovery. It is one of the main reasons I am alive today.

I had realised there was this addicted me, living upstairs like a fanatic in the attic, which was distinct from the new, recovering me that would have to try my best to ignore it.

This has become easier as recovery has progressed.

My illness and it’s lies, it’s quite convincing chatter lives in ME, the parts of my brain that deal with self, especially motivational parts of the brain.

Hence I have to be careful of wanting or desiring stuff as the thoughts and the chatter get turned on again. If I turn my will, my thoughts over to my HP then serenity prevails.

I have to be aware of Me. Me. Me.

I have to be aware of thoughts which have me, mine, or I in them.

If my thoughts have me, mine or I in them then I am lending my ear to my illness again.

This stuff is a difficult thing to come to terms with – it is similar to egodystonic thoughts in OCD sufferers –  thoughts in conflict with a person’s ideal self-image – but when you do grasp this you are well on your way to recovery!

 

 

 

 

About Us

“When we came into recovery we felt that our life was over but it had barely begun. 

Your very best years are ahead of you. Things do and continue to get better, and better.” 

A bit about us and what we hope to achieve in this blogsite.

Paul Henry, principal blogger and researcher, has contributed to various other addiction based websites such as  Addictionland , Klen + Sobr and  Recovery SI

This blog is written for active and recovering alcoholics (and those suffering and recovering from substance and behaviour addiction) and those who love and live with them, by alcoholics and addicts in recovery.

This blog started off as a blogsite that mixed ancedotal, experiential knowledge of being an alcoholic/addict in recovery with the very latest neuropsychological research into addiction and recovery.

It sought to mix experimental evidence with the evidence of lived experience.

As time progressed over the past year, the head started taking over the heart and the blog became more research based and less experienced based.

Now we have decided to make this blog solely about the experience of addiction and recovery.

It will not be from the head but will use the language of the heart instead to pass on what we have learnt about this illness and recovery from it.

We believe that sharing stories is one of the most profound ways to pass on knowledge and it has been since time immemorial.

Sharing our stories of illness and recovery are intrinsic to 12 step groups also and to getting well.

Stories can literally transform lives. Hopefully our stories will touch your heart too.

Recovery was a journey from our deluded heads to our hearts. But it starts with the heart saying I have had enough, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

We will still mention research in passing but not in detail and we do also refer you to  sister blog if you would like to study or read the lastest neuro-scientific and neuro psychologcal research into this disease and disorder of addictive behaviors.

There are also various pages on this blog which talk in detail about the neuropsychology of addiction and recovery, so please have a look around as there is a library of information and research on this blogsite if you care to look around.

The real aim of this blog is that you identify with what is being written about and that it hopefully spurs you on in your recovery from addictive behaviours.

We hope to carry a message of hope, that you can recover for addictive behaviours.

Addictive behaviours are potentially fatal.

Recovery is the best thing we have ever done in our lives and we hope you can join us in recovery.

Life has been transformed and is so much better and fulfilling than any of us could have imagined – when we came into recovery we felt that our life was over but it had barely begun.

Your best years are ahead of you.

Our sister blog looks at the neuroscience of addiction and recovery in a more academic  style, setting out a conceptual framework which puts emotional processing and regulation deficits at the heart of addiction.

http://insidethealcoholicbrain.com/

 

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