Addiction and Cerebral Palsy: Ski to Heal 

My brain had changed by the winter of 2022. I was still fighting weekly urges to give into watching pornography. So, it was important to continue with a plan. Something to continue challenging my mind away from becoming idle. Until the winter, most of the tools being relied upon to step away from my negative habit, provided comfort. Reading and playing golf were soothing my bouts of anxiety. They left my emotions satisfied and were curving my need to dive into the screen for comforting. The only thing challenging my vulnerability was writing the blog. Releasing my emotions into the world has always caused anxious excitement. It was coming time for adding another hobby to push my emotions. While, the writing caused moments of anxiety, along with being challenging to continuously achieve. The idea of skiing always caused fear throughout my years. The prospect of going up to ski was exciting each time the opportunity arose. But, the fear kept me only going a couple times a year, and never solo. When the concept of trying to ski on my own came into mind, it was surprising. The urge telling me to simply give going up alone, an attempt. I continued reminding myself, there would be no shame, if it didn’t work out. The option was there to climb back into my car, without ever skiing. If my first attempt failed, the opportunity would be there to try again, later. After working through what might have gone wrong. 

The unique thing about having a negative habit can be the impact on our lives. It happened to me without the realization. The feelings of fear and anxiety were never traced back to pornography. I felt, made to feel, through peer pressure, that going to strip clubs was normal behavior for guys. It was an activity all men were supposed to partake in and if going made you uncomfortable, you were weird. Guys talked about hiding naughty magazines under the mattress, or stealing them from fathers. Again, that was something I never did, so maybe I was weird. But, I was doing similar things in my own ways, with inappropriate fantasizing. When I would go into a strip club, it made me feel uncomfortable. I was trying to act like I didn’t like the behavior of being inside those walls. Really, they caused me anxiety, because somewhere inside, I understood my battle with that world. It took years for me to begin understanding the impact of this lifestyle on the brain. Talking about all aspects of it, sexual fantasy, magazines, strip clubs, pornographic sites. The list can go even deeper, because the world goes even deeper. Into concepts like prostitution and sex trafficking. The depth of these kinds of addictions leaves me thankful for curbing mine when I did. The destruction seems like it could last a lifetime, tearing apart a person’s entire world. 

It took years for me to even begin understanding the impact of my habit. The viewing of pornography and sexual fantasizing was tearing apart my world. Leading to chaotic emotions that often turned themselves into angry outbursts. The interesting part of my negative behavior has been realizing the harmful impact it has on my personality. While, there might be people out there managing their habit with similar kinds of behavior. For me, it was a narcissistic tendency from the upbringing of a narcissistic father. I looked for some kind of control over my uncontrollable environment. Going into a world of fantasizing provided me with control over my sexual world. I was able to completely dictate what went on inside my fantasy. Escaping the pain and unpredictability of the world I was living inside. The chaos wasn’t only coming from the volatility of my parent, but also the struggles of my cerebral palsy challenges. There was depression and anxiety, anger and confusion. Happiness seemed to be so unachievable, it didn’t matter if this little habit existed. The fantasies felt like the only way to survive the pain of my daily environment. The problem was how long the habit lasted into my adulthood. When the chaos left my world, I couldn’t settle. My addiction escalated into watching pornography online. Instead, of using my self-medicating habit to escape from chaos, I was causing the chaos in my world. My actions were providing the incorrect sense of control and power. If humility was being experienced inside myself at all, I was trying to ride myself of the feeling. I wanted to be in control, that was how my brain was being wired by my actions. 

Once I gained a vague understanding of the harmful cycle. Admitting to myself that I was not one of the people who could handle this habit. My journey of letting go of pornography truly took flight. With surviving the first seven months of my healing path, golf having helped me along the challenging days. The comfort and safety of playing golf in the mountains required a push forward. Into a challenge that could provide a truer feeling of accomplishment. I craved something to indicate, the wiring inside my brain was really changing. When the challenge of attempting to ski on my own, entered my thought pattern, it felt like an interesting signal. I have written before about my incredible fear when it came to skiing. An anxiety lasting most of my time on the slopes. The chairlifts make me anxious, the challenge of getting down the slope without crashing brings fear. The uncertainty of riding up a new lift to ski down something more challenging can bring panic. Leaving skiing to be something only pursued with those I trusted. Even then, the anxiety remained present, but I felt it was controlled enough to do some skiing. It seemed like it took patience to hit the slopes with me, because of my fear. Making the sport a good candidate for leaving all together. But, I loved the feeling of being up in the mountains. Skiing was also helping my cerebral palsy improvement, with all the balance it called upon to be done successfully. Making the dream scenario into a situation where I could go ski solo. I would be overcoming a debilitating fear and improving my disability challenges. Something pretty drastic would be required for this dream to occur.

I never fully gained a grasp for the impact of action on our brains. While studying psychology in college, the chemical reactions in the brain didn’t present as interesting. Leaving me memorizing the concepts well enough to past the test, but forgetting them in the following weekend activities. It wasn’t until I got well into my journey of recovering, that I bumped into the concept. Watching the videos of a doctor on YouTube, who spoke specifically about the working of the brain, specifically in regards to pornography. Her name is Dr. Trish Leigh, watching her explanations helped increase my understating. Helping me, make sense of the things I was experiencing. The concepts were challenging for me to watch, when I first began listening, less than a year into my journey. Over time, they helped me better understand the impact of my habit on my brain. Therefore, gaining more clarity on how my habit impacted my personality. Most importantly, where the inconsistencies in my emotions might be originating. The ideas pointed directly to how the pornography was causing my emotional highs and lows. Which, seemed to be a key to my panic on the slopes, or my anger outburst during a conversation, or my raging into feelings of self-harm in Hawaii. The blessing was inside my ability to hear the message in the videos. That ability comes from the years of work with a psychologist. Pulling me slowly, away from narcissistic tendencies, and into an ability to process information rationally. I began to understand, part of healing from the addiction, was smoothing out the wild undulations inside my emotions. 

There was no way for me to completely understand how long the healing process took, though my thought was it would be lifelong. The videos suggested the initial aspect of changing the wiring of the brain would be 1-3 years. Coming up on the anniversary of my second year,           I often think about that time frame. Because, it feels like my brain, and therefore my emotional stability, have come a long way in changing. Skiing really was my first true sign of the changing emotions. Because, driving up to play golf during the first summer, really didn’t have anything to do with overcoming fear. That was something I probably could have done, even with my addiction remaining. Playing frequent golf probably would have slowed the habit, but couldn’t have been an indication of my brain changing. When I started driving up to the pass on my own in the early months of 2022, something different was occurring. My body had gained a kind of calmness about it, allowing me to prepare for skiing without panic. I could slowly get into my ski boots and buckle my helmet. Without the feeling of frustration at one little misstep. I had gained the ability to continue trying, if the helmet didn’t snap together in my first few attempts. Yeah, there was fear to be felt when I scooted up to the chairlift, alone. Wondering if it would stop with me onboard and cerebral palsy would make it too difficult to get me evacuated. But, now I could control that fear, so it didn’t overwhelm my emotions. While, considering the prospect of those thoughts being irrational. The abstaining from my addiction was helping even out my emotions. I could feel the fear, but climbed on the chairlift, solo. 

The accomplishment of that first solo trip up skiing provided motivation. Letting me know some true healing was taking place. From that point, in the winter of 2022, I went up to ski about once per week. Each time, my fear around everything making up the ski day, slowly started to let go of my emotions. The time spent on the mountain became more and more exciting. The lift would stop, with me onboard, but the panic I would have felt in the past, melted away with each stoppage. My brain was healing without a doubt in my mind. So, I continued the process by going up to ski by myself. The slopes became a healing escape, but in a different way from golf, during the previous summer. Time on the ski slopes was proving how, through the healing of addiction, once debilitating fear could be overcome. My mental health climbed, as the feelings of anxiety and depression shrank. I felt like something was truly being accomplished with each morning of skiing. By the end of the ski season, I was so transformed, that I bought a season pass for this year of 2023. While, skiing during this season, my mental health continued its climb out of fear. My level of skill accelerated into the skiing of intermediate runs and my ten trips up from a year ago, climbed up to seventeen. The mountains have played a role in keeping me on the path of healing my addiction. Easing the feeling of anxiety and depression. Replacing them with emotions of safety, happiness, and accomplishment. Though it won’t be weekly, like the summer of 2021, I look forward to the drive up into the mountains to play golf this summer. And the season pass has been renewed for skiing next winter. My journey continues. 

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