The triangle of self obsession and staying clean outside the facility

Samarjit Kambam *

When I was a little kid, I was concerned only of myself. I expected very little other than my basic needs and as long as these needs were fulfilled I was contented. As my consciousness expanded, I became aware of a world outside my little shell which was my unierse, my perfect world. I discovered that there are people, places and things around me that I had never seen or heard and believed that they would fulfil my needs. At this point, I also began to recognise differences and develop preferences.

I perceived and chose with the wrong notion that I am the centre of a growing universe and expected to be provided with all the things that I needed and wanted. If that did not happen, I acted like a king and made a big fuss until I got what I wanted. This limited perception of the world is called the “King’s Baby Syndrome” or shortly KBS. My source of contentment shifted from my basic needs inexplicably to the fulfilment of my desires.

From the time I was a little boy, I still can remember feelings which I did not quite belong to. It seemed that I always said and did the wrong things at the wrong time and at the wrong place. I sometimes thought of myself that I must be a simian from a planet of another galaxy. As a teenager, I felt a big empty hole inside of me, and I spent the next 11 years of my life trying to fill it with drugs. I always wanted to desperately fit in somewhere, be a part of the family dynamic.

I always felt I was the black sheep of the family – dumbest, ugliest, inheriting all the negative and filthiest genes of my family both from the maternal and paternal sides. So, I always wanted and felt better being alone. I had a very low esteem and low self-image. Introvertness sets in when I was in school. I always felt better to be around books than to be around friends. I have realised now that I hated myself.

I wished I would be somebody, anybody else, other than me. I felt like a loser, an outcast and looking back towards the path I treaded was why everybody treated me like one. I was a victim by choice, but I did not know it for many years of my life. I felt that the world had treated me with a malicious hand which left me with many inadequate feelings. Fear ate a hole in me that I was never able to fill with drugs.

Another form of punishment that I felt was rejection by my close ones. During those yonder years, most kids including myself through experiences over a period of time came to realise that the outside world cannot provide all our needs and wants. So, I began to supplement what is given to me with my efforts.

As my dependency on people, places, and things decreases, I became narcissistic and more self-centred and learned that happiness and contentment come from within. I became more mature recognising and accepting my SWOT. At some point in time, I usually seek the help of a power greater than mine to provide the things I cannot provide for myself. For most people, like me, growing up has been a complicated process.

I was not born addicted. My behaviours gradually built up from the time I was born taking cues from my parents’ genetic makeup, different environmental factors, my family background and my upbringing (fulfilment of my needs and wants, schooling, peer pressures etc.) These behaviours that I imbibed when I was young were based on socially acceptable norms.

Once I started using my choice of chemicals, my socially viable behaviours started to deteriorate gradually. This deterioration of my behaviour was so progressive that before I realised myself, I became an anti-social animal. I was rejected by my family members, my close ones that I confided to, and in general the society. The thing that I hated most was ‘rejection’ which became my shadow that I have to live with every seconds of my life, day in and day out.

As an addict, I faltered along the way. I never seemed to outgrow the self-centeredness of a little child. I never seemed to find the self-sufficiency that others do. I continued to depend on the world around me and refused to accept that I would not be given everything. I became self-obsessed; my needs and wants became demands until I reached a point where contentment and fulfilment became impossible.

People, places and things couldn’t possibly fill the emptiness inside of me, and I reacted to them with resentment and fear. Resentment, anger and fear make up the triangle of self-obsession. All these defects in my character are manifestations of these three factors in one way or the other. Self-obsession is the heart of our insanity. Resentment is the way most of us react to our past. It is the recurring of our past experiences, again and again in our minds.

Anger is the way most of us deal with the present situation. It is my reaction to and denial of reality. Fear is what I feel when I think about the future. It is my response to the unknown; a fantasy in reverse. All three of these things are expressions of my self-obsession. They are the way that I reacted when people, places, and things (past, present, future) do not live up to my demands – a mindset totally gone haywire with negativity.

I had a disease that in the end forced me out to seek help. I was lucky that I was given a chance to break this triangle of self-obsession. I realised I must grow up or die. Given below are the ways we react to people, places and things:- Truth is illusive. Sober living requires constant attention to the truth. Usually, things in life happen so fast that we don’t have the time and energy to uncover the truth: know myself, know my strength and weaknesses.

If you know your strength and weaknesses; if you live your life consistently with the truth, you will not use drugs. Chemical dependency is a form of lying to yourself, to your soul as well as to others. Telling the truth is paramount to recovery from addiction. It is also essential in developing a well-balanced emotional life.

I first heard of NA (Narcotic Anonymous) message of recovery while in the rehab centre. Transition from such places to the outside world was not easy under any circumstances. That especially turned out to be true when I was challenged with the changes which recovery brought. For many of us, early recovery was difficult. Facing the prospects of life without drugs can be frightening, but those of us who made it through found a life worth living. We have tried other ways, and many of us relapsed. Some never have another chance at recovery.

Whenever I attended NA meetings while in the rehab centre, I started to develop good habits like arriving early and staying late at the meetings. Starting early helped me to establish contacts with recovering addicts who gave me valuable first-hand information on how to abstain from my choice of chemical. Given that ‘reclusiveness’ firstly being the core of the disease of addiction, that first meeting was a big stride forward.

Staying clean outside the facility means taking actions when you get out to a NA meeting the first day of your release. The confusion and excitement of “just getting out” lulled me into thinking of taking a vacation from my responsibilities before settling down to the business of day-to-day living. This kind of rationalisation has led some of my previous inmates to relapse. Addiction is a disease which takes no time off in its progression. If not arrested, it only becomes worse. What we do for our recovery today does not ensure our recovery tomorrow. It is a mistake to assume that the good intention of getting around to NA after a while is sufficient.

It is never too late to establish a personal program of daily action. Taking daily actions is our way of taking responsibility for our recovery. Instead of picking up that drug, we must go to NA meetings regularly, Pray to our Higher Power to keep you clean for the day, call our sponsor (counsellor) when the urge to use becomes overwhelming, read NA literatures, talk to other recovering addicts, work up the 12 steps of NA regularly.

For an addict, there is no better substitute other than the fellowship of other recovering addicts, who are actively engaged in recovery. It is imperative to give ourselves a break and give recovery a chance. There are many new friends waiting for us in NA, a brave new promising world lie ahead. Some of us have to priorities our expectations for a completely different world once exit from the facility.

NA could not miraculously change the world around us. It does offer us hope, freedom and a way to live differently in the world by changing ourselves. We may find some situations which are no different than before, but through the program of NA, we can change the way we respond to them by changing ourselves.

I am writing this piece with the hope that after reading it some poor and lost souls like me would benefit from it, and if that were the case I would be a much happier person

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 16, 2016.

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