The Highs and Lows of an Addictive and Somewhat Compulsive Personality: A Moment With Bill Reflection
THE REALITY OF MY LIFE
Well, John, I have, and now that I’m sober I am still an obsessive.
Truth be told, my friends, I have always had an obsessive and yes, somewhat compulsive personality. Since I have never known my birth parents, and since my adopted parents were not obsessive, I’ve flown blind for a good many decades. It was not until I realized that I was an alcoholic did the realization hit me that I am like a pit bull when it comes to grabbing hold of something and not letting go.
The clues were there at a young age but I didn’t see them for what they were. Instead I just believed I was a determined young man who would not settle for mediocre. All of those long hours throwing a baseball against a wall were just a young player who wanted to be the best. All of that relentless practicing at the keyboard was just a young man who found no happiness in being mundane. The question for me was not why do I try so hard, but rather why doesn’t everyone else?
It was as though I had no turn off switch, or even a switch that could dial down the effort a bit. It was balls-to-the-wall in whatever I did, from sports to hobbies to work and even relationships. I had to be the best….I had to leave it all on the field….and it was never enough. No matter the effort expended…no matter the pain that it cost….there was little satisfaction gained.
It was an exhausting way to live and to a certain extent I am still living it.
THE LOWS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS
Imagine if you will a dark night and something threatens you from the shadows. You cannot see this menacing force but you can hear its growl and smell its intentions. Rather than run in fear you turn to face it, and in fact you give chase. You thrash through the undergrowth, scraping your shins, scratching your arms and pushing your heart and lungs to the limit…..but you never catch your quarry.
You lay on the ground, completely spent. The sweat pours off of you, tiny rivulets of expenditure flowing from every pore, and your breath heaves as you try to regain some semblance of physical control. Your body finally recovers and you stand, but rather than head home to safety and comfort, you turn in the direction of your quarry and give chase once again, hoping against hope that this time it will be different.
Welcome to my world!
I had to be the best pitcher in baseball. I had to be the hardest worker at the job. I had to be the best teacher and I had to be the best parent and today, I have to be the best writer. And sadly, I could never be, and will never be, any of those things. I understand that on a purely logical level. Translating that understanding into action is a whole new can or worms.
Do you have an addictive personality?
SO HOW COULD THERE BE ANY HIGHS AT ALL?
Good question! If I am constantly falling short of unrealistic goals, where do the highs enter the picture?
They appear from two places. One, there are always minor victories. There are always moments as a writer when I craft a seemingly perfect sentence, or when I sell an article and receive praise. However, it is always a fleeting victory because moments later I am reminding myself that I can always do better.
Secondly, in a very warped sense of reality, the victory is in the pursuit and obsession itself. Like an alcoholic who knows he is sick and yet finds great comfort from the very poison he swallows, I find comfort in pursuing the uncatchable. It is a game of cat and mouse that has no end, but the chase itself is a mental adrenalin rush the likes of which I cannot describe.
Again, welcome to my world!
Are you obsessive/compulsive?
Something to think about
FINDING THE SILVER LINING
Of course there is a silver lining. There always is if one is willing to learn and change.
Whatever relief I have found has come because of a willingness to surrender. I finally realized that I had to give up the chase or die trying, and when faced with that end result the choice was fairly easy. I had to relinquish control and stop trying to affect the outcome in my fantasy world. I also had to tweak my expectations and channel my energies into realistic pursuits.
Instead of trying to be the best writer who has ever walked this planet, it is now enough for me to be the best writer named Bill Holland who has ever walked this planet. A fine distinction for sure, but one that has made all the difference in the world, and it is a distinction that allows me a sense of obsession without being unhealthy. The best of both worlds! LOL
Psychologically I had to change the nature of my obsessions. Today my writing is a passion rather than a necessity upon which my self-esteem was built. Today being a good husband and father is a goal rather than a need. Today being a supportive and loyal friend is enough without attempting to be the best friend man has ever known.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Of course I can be better, but is it in my best interest to try so hard that I lose all perspective? I think not!
I have found balance today. I am quite certain that there will still be days when I see the menacing force in the shadows and give chase, but I am also quite certain that the chase will be curtailed by the realization that I am fine the way I am. For all of us, the ghosts never really disappear. There are times when it is a major struggle to keep them at bay; at other times, it is simply a matter of saying “shoo” and they slink back into the darkness. Such is life for we humans.
And that is the bottom line. I am only human, and today I find comfort in the perfection of my imperfections.
May all of you find the same.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)