Addiction and Cerebral Palsy: Writing

Writing doesn’t feel like an activity that comes to mind when thinking about a healing journey. I began writing this blog long before I recognized my challenges. I started seeing a psychologist years before the thought of sexual fantasies even nudged my radar. The interesting thing about life can be looking back. All of the small things leading to a healing process can be astounding. We might never realize when the seeds are being planted to help usher in a new perspective. I’m no expert on addiction. The only thing I can write about is my path toward working through negative habits. The journey I have been walking and the tools used to help my process. Writing this blog started many years ago. A few years after my journey in therapy had begun. Something I have heard about and read over the years has been the role emotions play in unhealthy habits. It seems to me; we use the negative habits to help suppress unpleasant emotions. One of the struggles of my life has been processing the challenges of my disability. I don’t believe the physical difficulties have been the hardest to navigate. In my life, the emotional challenges of having cerebral palsy seem to be most difficult. Not really understanding how to find my place in the world. Would it surprise you to know, writing wasn’t something I ever thought I would be doing? Yet, for some reason, here I sit each week, writing this blog. 

If we have gotten into the habit of denying our feelings. Using something to soothe our bad feelings that might be easy to find. It seems, we might only be making the denial of emotions worse. Plus, now we are stacking another challenge on top of feelings, already making us uncomfortable. This was exactly the path I was taking for years. I didn’t want to examine the thoughts floating around in my head. So, going to the screen, or sexually fantasizing in my head, and self-gratifying was an escape. The process brought on cascades of dopamine into my brain. Helping relieve the thought of anxiety or depression I might be experiencing. Often, the emotion was a feeling of isolation and loneliness. The age-old pity-party of feeling like I didn’t have friends and no one wanted me around them. Cerebral palsy took the blame for every negative emotion I was having. If there were a way to make cerebral palsy go away, life would be good. So, I tried everything, in an effort to improve my disability. Believing if I practiced sports longer, worked in the yard longer, or worked out more often, I could change my disability. Working toward my body getting stronger would make the challenges disappear. Or, at least becoming stronger could make it to where someone walking by could hardly tell I was disabled. When these plans weren’t working, you can guess where I went. Escaping into my addiction or negative habit, to ease the pain. Attempting to rid myself of my cerebral palsy was impossible and I didn’t understand it, but it wouldn’t have changed my suffering.  Something else would have taken its place as the problem. 

For me, being challenged with a negative habit means one thing. I have trouble getting to the emotions I’m truly feeling. Life was teaching me not to look at those harmful emotions. If I could stuff them away and keep moving forward, they would fall out of sight. This might be where cerebral palsy becomes the biggest blessing. Because, I couldn’t just push my disability out of sight, sooth myself with addiction, find any old job, and live a “normal” looking life. It wasn’t going to work that way for my world. Cerebral palsy impacts my life to a degree, where I can’t just live “normally”. That fact frustrated me in a way difficult to understand. Making me angry in ways that I remain challenged in describing with words. The unrelenting weight was there each day, starting from my first days of junior high. The fantasizing became my escape from the pain of being different. It helped me create a world where I was the person who got accepted. The drug splashed into my brain in an instant, washing away the feelings of isolation. It seems impossible to have understood then, what I have learned in healing. The impact my habit was having, only caused greater isolation, and feelings of loneliness. But, when the fight to be accepted feels like it has been lost. The only thing I was in search of, was some kind of relief. The problem was my habit worsened, lasting well into my 30’s, and driving people even further away from my world. 

The only way to seek healing, that I have become familiar with, has been exploring emotions. The ones making me feel uncomfortable. The feelings I spent years trying to wash away in each nights’ flood of dopamine. Where does writing come into this whole equation, you might be asking, which feels like a fair inquisition. Writing was stumbled upon in my life. Something I often enjoyed doing, but didn’t feel it a worthy endeavor. But, as I wrote a little here and there, the response felt positive. The trouble with writing came back to my historic difficulties. In order to write something worth reading, learning to emote becomes vital. Having lived much of my life behind the wall of addiction, emoting was going to be a stretch. However, writing was something making me feel positive inside. It gave me the feeling of something purposeful. Putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard provided something soothing to my life. The kind of soothing that carries positivity with it, rather than leading down a hole of darkness. Which, was the place my negative habit continued leading. My writing started simple enough, without any target of length. I began taking on any subject I could think of, impacting my life with a disability. The goal was to write about the feelings behind dealing with the challenges. The goal, asking me to dig into how the challenges felt, not simply the challenges itself. 

Like reading, writing felt like it had a logical component. The writing was best when it made the most sense. Each paragraph moving the reader from one idea to the next. While, the individual sentences fill in the details of each idea. The more logical I can become with my concepts, the more enjoyable the writing becomes to the reader. But, addiction doesn’t allow for much logical thinking. The fantasies steal away the brain and create chaos. Luring the thoughts into temptation, instead of the focus of something positive. However, as I took the individual concepts of life with cerebral palsy, and put the emotions on paper. The release of pent up emotion could be felt, almost being released through my fingers. The weight of my emotional challenges was somehow being lightened. As people started trickling in to read some of my words. A purpose was being found, that I didn’t realize existed. For the first time, I could feel a reason for all the frustration inside my world. It was possible, all of my heartbreaking moments, might be helpful for someone to hear. There has been an opposite side to the positive feelings of writing. The fact of people coming to read my writing means more emotional vulnerability. Something I continue struggling with in writing. So, my journey into writing looked more like starting and stopping. Even with all the positive feelings, I continued running back into the screen, to numb the vulnerability. 

The process of writing started with both positive and negative components. The release of emotions I had been feeling for years was remarkably positive. Because, the major path to working through any negative habit is opening up those heavy emotions. The struggle with my early writing was the emotional vulnerability. Especially when it was posted on a blog and released into the world. The challenge of handling the aftermath of a post hand me feeling emotionally exposed. Which, in turn, lead me back into seeking comfort from my addiction. This mini cycle of doing something good by writing short posts about my challenges. Would go negative when the fear of emotional exposure led back into my addiction. Then, the cycle would start over again, the following week. Even though, the wheel moving me from writing into sexual fantasy doesn’t sound like it would be helping, it was starting the change in life. For the simple fact that I had started sharing my emotions. Digging deep into my feelings, with the intent of helping someone else, who might be struggling with something similar. There has been no doubt in my mind, writing this blog was the spark that pushed my healing journey into something meaningful. The purpose writing has given my life, provides a reason to keep fighting. Starting to write these posts wasn’t a magic bullet. It was simply a small step that grew more significant. 

When I was finishing some writing, and moving onto my addiction, you couldn’t have told me this was helping. However, slowly I was reducing the frequency of going onto the unproductive sites. More of my time was being spent writing about the experience of being disabled. Over time, I found writing was becoming a kind of escape. The release of emotion was beginning to calm my emotions, even if slightly. Then, I was motivated to take a huge step. No more pornographic sites on the internet. But, instead of stopping cold turkey, I could watch less invasive things on YouTube. Even spending a period of time telling myself, I could go on YouTube when a blog was finished. It was a way of stepping down my negative habit. I wasn’t sure the idea would work, but it did. Following a time of only viewing inappropriate videos on YouTube, I gave that up as well. Wanting to find a path of truly turning my life into something positive. The emotional writing wasn’t having the impact it was previously. As the time doing the blog was becoming more of a way to process emotions healthily. My writing was that positive escape, making me feel like I was accomplishing something good. My transition in life was truly moving forward. But, other tools would be found, along the journey. It never seems to be one things that helps us heal. Writing was one of the first, which turned into the many blades on the propeller, powering my journey towards mental health. 

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