There is a very real and very tough thing that happens when we think too much. Suddenly, the world closes in and everyone can see or “Everyone knows,” those inner secrets, everyone can see the pains, which are only apparent to us, and the weakness is obvious, the thoughts are like poison, or more like cancerous, and then the anxiety machine in our head spins into overdrive.
I was once told, “Perception isn’t truth. It’s only true to you.” and what that means is from the mind’s eye, we only see things from our perspective. When we worry or when the anxiety rages, this does not mean our thoughts are accurate; it only means our speculation has become dangerous.
If you’ve ever wondered why people give in to compulsion, or if you have ever been curious as to why people use compulsive behavior, then consider this as an example.
Imagine you are about to feel motion sickness, or better yet, imagine feeling sea sick —the only thing that would make this go away is to be on dry land. But yet, you are far out at sea and there is no land in sight.
There is no way to get off the boat and all you want is relief. You just want to feel better but there is no relief in sight.
Now, place this feeling in the trauma center of your mind. We just want relief. We want something to take the anguish away.
We want something to make the world stop moving because it’s spinning too fast. We want to feel better but the same as being sea sick with no land on the horizon, there is no relief in sight.
You want to escape but you can’t. You want to get out of your own head and you want the thoughts to stop coming but they don’t and you’re not sure which side of your internal arguments are going to win.
The mind always looks for a way to fix itself. I suppose this is why we blackout when we go through such intense physical pain; the mind cannot take it so we faint, we pass out, and the mind shuts down to protect itself.
I suppose this is where the attraction is when we look to find a mind altering behavior or substance. Essentially, this is the mind’s way of trying to find dry land when it’s sea sick.
We look to find a solution but since perception is mind altering, we look for the quickest possible fix. We disregard the price tags and the disclaimers. We just want to feel better. And the more desperate we become, the more desperate the measures we are willing to take.
The mind hates pain. It hates discomfort. It hates fear and shame and anxiety; it fears humiliation and exposure to vulnerability.
We want to be wire-tight and strong. We want to be impenetrable. We want to hide our weaknesses and keep our awkward vulnerabilities hidden.
However, the playing field is never even and the sides are never equal. This is where we devise our defense mechanisms. This is where we find ourselves searching for protection —or more accurately, when it comes to the ideas of feeling sea sick; this is where we find ourselves drastically in search of dry land.
The hardest thing to do is defy the thoughts we have in our head on a daily basis. It’s hard when you feel like you have to win against an energy that will not let up —and it’s not that the weight we have to lift is always so tragically heavy, but after a while, just holding your own weight can be exhausting.
So you find something that makes the world stop spinning. You find something that makes the ride you’re on a bit steadier. You look for something to keep that motion sickness in your head calm and satisfied.
It doesn’t matter the cost and it doesn’t matter if this fix is only temporary because to the mind, a minute away from pain and anxiety is still a minute away from anxiety. To the mind, if we have to, we can always re-up and do it again.
If the hole gets deeper, we can just do more to get out of the hole. And, even if the temporary cure digs the hole deeper, at least we have that moment of reprieve where the mind stops and the anxiety machine can be quiet for a while.
More than a year ago, I was invited to write a section of a poem for someone that was going through a rough time. I was given a word to use as theme. The word is “Brokenness.”
Obviously about a broken heart or broken soul, I was given the word brokenness about a young man who passed away early for reasons I cannot detail; however, the word took on a different appeal when I began to write. I took the word and penned it to my feelings. I wrote what this word is to me. Brokenness to me is the way I felt. This is the version of my feelings of despair. This is what I was trying to escape from.
The poem is as follows: Brokenness
I am brokenness . . .
I am broken,
not in the sense that I am not whole
but broken in the sense
that I am not complete . . .
in the absence of your presence
—or at present, I am broken,
alone, sitting in the silence
like someone staring out through a window,
looking from an empty bedroom
outwards into gray, overcast skies
a slight rain, gentle,
like a soft drizzle
to emphasize the long
sad resignation of painful mourning,
which is slow and unendurable
like the unendingness of an empty view.
I am this thing—
and undeniable thing.
I am this unexplainable
and indefinable thing
I am this . . .
I never asked to feel this way. No one does. I just wanted to feel better. And when at my worst; or when I feel broken, all I want to do is feel whole again. This is where my compulsion comes in. The worse I feel the more I give into my compulsion. The deeper my compulsion digs me in, the more I do it because this is the only way I know how to calm the anxiety machine in my head. This is me when I feel sea sick and trying to find dry land.
The hardest thing to do here is break this cycle because the anxiety machine cannot see any other way to fix itself, which is why we implode into our self-destructive response disorder.
We dig ourselves in deeper because although the aftermath is worse than any hangover; we fear the withdrawal, we fear the pain, and we fear the sickness of mundane, mediocrity and boredom.
We fear the unremarkable self and we fear the rejection. We fear the inaccurate cracks in our system and we fear the transparent weaknesses we have will be exposed, and there we are, vulnerable and open to the world, exposed like some cold, naked homeless person in front of a jury of peers, sent to judge and condemn us. All eyes are on us and all fingers point
This is why the compulsion doesn’t die. The mind keeps it alive because it knows that abilities of instant gratification. And this is us, always needing and always seeking an easier way to just feel better. This is us screaming out. Or wait, no, this is the child in us just screaming out for attention because it does not want to go on unnoticed anymore
I will leave you with this; in some regard, my biggest compulsions were like a magical mute button that I pushed when the world became too loud. Once I pushed it, for the moment, the world became soft and more accepting of me. The world became tolerable, the thoughts stopped, the feelings were postpones, or more like suspended in a slow state of perfect animation. This is the orgasm. The problem always comes after though—when you have to pay for it, or when the cost becomes sickly. One would think this would be strong enough to make the ride stop. But nothing stops the ride because the mind keeps the wheels turning.
How do you stop thoughts from thinking?
And how do you forget an escape that feels so good that the anxiety machine stops and says thank you?
This is the trick—
This is what I am learning to pull off on a daily basis; to adapt and overcome, and more importantly, to defy the anxiety machine and the insecurities in my head.
This is how I succeed survive