Today has been similar to yesterday, just another day of rest.
I’ve spent most of the day cleaning up my online presence. It’s something that I seem to do every so often, particularly when I feel like I’m embarking on a fresh start. What’s been interesting today, as I’ve gone through past post on my website, on Twitter and on Facebook is how much of what I’ve posted is no longer relevant. It’s easy to see the mania and the OCD in much of what I post. The OCD in particular. I seem to get obsessive about a subject and that’s all I post about, repeatedly. When no one really appears to be listening, I then seem to post more. Classic addict behaviour and that of the unheard child. Although I’m currently in a state of burn out, I do feel more grounded than I have done in the past and I hope I can hold onto this as I move forwards.
It would appear that the burnout is a consequence of my recent obsession with XBOX, namely with the Halo Wars game, but it’s actually been going on for a while. The game before that was Alien: Isolation, which I also played obsessively. (I’m talking 12+ hours straight over a long weekend period.) I think the culmination of repeatedly playing, particularly stressful and mentally taxing games , has ended up undoing much of the good work that I done.
When I entered recovery almost 5 years ago, I was completely burnt out. My brain had physically gone pop and I was incapable of doing almost anything. All I could muster was the energy to get up and lie on the sofa watching mindless TV, and then go back to bed, watch more mindless TV and fall asleep. I slept a lot back in those early days, and to be fair, when I started to work my programme of recovery, I continued to sleep. My tiredness originated from my burnout, but I think a lot of the subsequent sleep was to do with my brain rewiring itself. If you think about how much babies sleep, as their brains grow and develop, this is what I liken the recovery process to.
We are in effect, reborn when we enter recovery, but rather than starting from scratch like a baby, we must undo a lot of the, now unwanted and unnecessary, programming that we learnt through our coping mechanisms. This is why working a programme of recovery is so tough. We’re not only revisiting and reliving traumatic memories, which in and of itself can be very draining, we’re also becoming aware of behavioural patterns, that include how we think and feel. Some of these behavioural patterns can be almost completely subconscious, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not destructive. The problem is, these behavioural patterns can feel very comfortable because they are familiar and for the most part, they have worked in order to keep us safe from a perceived danger. However, we reach a point where they become the problem, rather than the solution, but at that turning point, it’s difficult to give them up.
This is where the outer circle or new healthy behaviours are so important, because we must learn to embrace the new, as we let go of the old. This is where things like XBOX are actually very important.
I’ve owned an XBOX since 2003, but I’ve hardly ever played it because of my work addiction. I literally couldn’t switch off in an evening or at weekends and the thought of doing something recreational, for myself, felt selfish and I simply wouldn’t enjoy it. If I wasn’t working then I would be drinking or acting out with PMO (Pornography, Masturbation, Orgasm), so there was very little time and energy for XBOX.
Through recovery I have developed healthier outer circle behaviours that replace my old unhealthy ones. I now have friends that I genuinely enjoying speaking with and seeing. I read a variety of things from books, to magazines to comics, again something that I would never allow myself to do, as it was a) too much effort to maintain that level of focus for a prolonged period of time and b) felt like a selfish use of my time, after all my co-dependent had me believing that I was here to save the world. I walk regularly, both as a form of exercise and also as a form of mindfulness. It’s a part of the day where I’m alone with my thoughts and I just get to witness them for what they are. Then there is XBOX.
It’s been really easy for my addict to rear it’s head when playing XBOX. I know when I’m in it because it does become obsessive, but I’m still somewhat powerless over it, but I’m learning. The lure of the XBOX is that increase in adrenaline coupled with the fact that it gives me focus and a level of purpose. If I’ve learnt anything over the last week or so, it’s that I need to put it down during those moments where I really don’t want to. I’ve started meditating again and I’m hopeful that this will be beneficial in those moments of need. It would be nice to find that place of balance, whereby I can pick up the XBOX and play it for an hour or so, without it become compulsive.
…but, it’s a journey, not a destination.