Chaos: Or, My Synonym for “Comfort”
I went to my third Al-Anon meeting yesterday.
At the beginning of the meeting, when the leaders were debating on what topic to pick and what direction to take the conversation for the next 60 minutes, I started to wonder why I even bothered attending. If the leaders…and I say leaders, because it seemed this group didn’t really have a designated Leader…if the leaders couldn’t even trouble themselves enough to find a topic and prep for the meeting, why should I take an hour out of my precious day to attend it? Did these people not realize how uncomfortable it made me to literally force myself to sit in a room with strangers and publicly work through feelings and thoughts I had shoved deep down for months and months and months…? I took personal offense to the lack of preparation on the group’s part. How dare them.
It took a lot to not just get up and walk out. I didn’t because:
- I didn’t want to look like an asshole and
- I didn’t want to look like an asshole.
But something—a faint, quiet whisper, a tiny tug at my mind—also told me to just…hold on, be patient, just give them a few minutes.
And then someone suggested reading an excerpt from the monthly Al-Anon newsletter (you’re kidding right?), and another person rose up from their seat and dug out a January 2014 pamphlet from a pile of boxes in the corner of the old church room, and another one of the members tossed said newsletter on the table and it fell open to…An article about chaos. And he began reading.
And, let me tell you…I need to stop being shocked by how God works. I won’t ever stop being shocked, or amazed, or impressed, but logically speaking I shouldn’t be surprised that God knows what the heck He’s doing. It should be clear as day; He’s God. Of course He knows what He’s doing. But somehow, part of me still wants to believe that I know better.
I’m 100% certain that I was meant to be sitting in that room yesterday, listening to that article be read aloud. I wanted to leave; I wanted to quit four minutes in. But something—which I fully believe was the influence of God—told me to stay. And so I did.
The article (Learning to Accept Myself without Chaos) discussed the alien feeling of having a life sans the madness. I realized, about 30 seconds in to the article, that I wholly identified with the author: My life has been chaos. I am used to chaos. Part of me—a very large part of me—freaking loves. Chaos.
It’s masochistic. I hate chaos—I hate the anxiety it brings, the panic, the overwhelming feeling of drowning, its ability to prevent me from looking after my own needs and very often self-sabotage having those needs fulfilled—yet…I feel so unlike myself without it. So I love it. It gives me purpose. I have a battle to fight every single day against chaos.
Chaos is my addiction. Or one of them.
As the group leader read, I began letting my mind dwell to all the chaos I have experienced in my life. I will share some of that with you, because this is my blog, and I can do what I want J I grew up in a very tumultuous and chaotic household—my parents were always screaming at one another, fighting, spitting angry. I have soooo many sharp memories of hiding under our kitchen table as a child, clinging to a chair’s twisted wooden legs, crying for my parents to stop fighting. I always felt so helpless; I had no impact on the decibel at which they carried out their arguments. I remember the urge I had to take off through our screened back door and just run—run forever. But, the guilt I felt for thinking of abandoning my parents—the loyalty I had for my family—it kept me under the table, waiting for the day my parents would treat each other with love. My parents eventually did stop fighting—once I graduated from college and they learned to communicate with one another. But, the impact is still lingering. I’m getting better…I think.
My mind also dwelled to other instances of chaos in my life…my own binge drinking and dependence on alcohol in college to alleviate stressful and self-loathing days (thankfully, I am not an alcoholic, though I did heavily abuse the stuff), the quick turnover rate of my friendships in my late teens and early twenties because of my drinking. The eating disorder I developed as a teenager that I actively maintained until about three years ago…an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship I had during that time.
Man. I really, really, really must like chaos. Or, if I don’t like it, I’ve accepted it as part of my life.
What is it about chaos that I so clearly enjoy? Is it that chaos prevents me from having time to turn my attention to myself? Am I afraid of what may come to light in myself when I have too many quiet minutes on my plate? Is it that I feel uneasy, like something certainly must be wrong, if it’s quiet…too quiet?
I think I have Calm-Before-The-Storm Syndrome (I just made that up). CBTS Syndrome’s number one symptom is constant paranoia that something really bad is about to happen if everything feels like it’s going too smoothly. If there isn’t at least one area of my life that is just full of chaos, clearly, I have something awful headed my way.
Clearly. (Insert blank stare followed by a scoff…here).
What the heck is with that? In my head, rationally thinking, I know that if everything is calm, I SHOULD BE HAPPY. But I can’t make myself feel happy. I start getting paranoid—if I’m dating someone, or with someone (even a friendship!), I start looking for evidence they’ve cheated, or that they don’t want to be around me anymore. If I’m doing well in my career, or when I was doing well at school as a student, I find more projects or activities to get involved with until it feels like I’m about two feet under water. I find something critical about myself to totally rip on—my face is fat, my legs are jiggly, oh my gosh I can’t get in a swimsuit because love handles—I manifest this self-hate from nothing.
I love chaos.
There. I’ve admitted it to myself. I pretend like I want this happy-go-lucky, kumbaya life where all I do is yoga on the beach and volunteer to save the children but holy cow Batman. Clearly, that is not the case.
I very, very clearly love chaos.
Here’s to facing that weird addiction head-on and getting to a place where I’m fine with being “bored”. Here’s to me being “comfortable” and “okay”. Even if that means sitting in a meeting for four minutes without anything dramatic happening. Even if that means not storming out and trying to be in control of everything like always. Even if that means putting the chaos behind me and being happy.