“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” Carl Gustav Jung

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” Carl Gustav Jung

I had no story before addiction.

I’ve never been addicted to heroin or drink. My habit has been idealism. I’ve ridden on high horses more times than I care to admit. I’ve been quixotic and delusional. The other day I remembered a student of mine that I had tried to fix. His parents (from where I sat on my high horse) were neglectful. My student read who I was and got all of the mileage out of my “heroism.” In the end his parents may have been rotten, but the kid knew how to get out of schoolwork with only the hint of a tear and sad tale.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Like Edgar, I lug a knapsack of desperation and doom into every new relationship, but my addiction is a little more hidden to the untrained eye. I’ve heard it said that addiction is seeking escape by means of a lesser god. My addiction is my attachment to being a god. All delusion. Addicted men adore me. Maybe I will be the god to replace the god that is killing them. I’ve never felt like a martyr. I am more a shadow. I can hide behind the BIG stories of a mate’s chaos. I can feel maybe a little more perfect — but this too is chasing a first high with decreasing returns.

My very first boyfriend, John, still haunts me at times. I don’t know if he is dead or alive. I saw a picture in my friend’s eighth grade yearbook when I was fifteen and spent the entire summer before high school imagining his perfection, staring at his beauty. Out of all the boys on those pages I was drawn instantly to the boy destined to overdose more than anyone else in our high school. I have a sixth sense about those things, though I was obviously innocent of any self-awareness at the time.

It’s no surprise then that my first novel is about addiction and the main character’s name is John Weldon. But would it surprise you that, as I wrote the pages, I had no inkling that I was idealizing all of the addicts I have ever loved? The idea of a strong female heroine irritated me back then. I didn’t like the idea of it at all. I could not relate. Katherine Weldon was the shadow I needed her to be. She was truth for me. She still is sometimes.

Rest assured that the ending of The House on Tenafly Road is idealized

12 responses to ““Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” Carl Gustav Jung”

    • I love hero journeys and redemption stories. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing things this way. It’s a little cringe-worthy looking back on life, but it’s the only way to learn and grow, I guess.

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  1. Wow! I wanted you to go on, and it just ended abruptly!
    I feel a sort of heartbreak for what you shared. Hurting people. Yourself hurting but medicating yourself in the form of playing the god.

    Life can be so hard. And also so dark, but I believe it doesn’t have to continue there. You have a Savior who loves you and values you without you needing to be something perfect. You are right that much of what motivates us we are not even aware of. I see this as a good opportunity to put truth into our minds. Eventually, that we become a part of us without us really having to think about it.
    Like, “I have lived you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”
    and “I will never leave you.”

    Just a lot of life lessons you’re brought out here.

    Laurie
    Ridge Haven Homestead

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    • Thanks for the encouragement, Laurie! I think the more time we spend meditating on God’s words and those of the saints the more we see our own patterns — the ones that keep us from truth, beauty and goodness. Perfectionism is a mix of pride and self loathing. We have to be a little gentle with ourselves and laugh too. So much to learn in this life! So glad you stopped by.

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  2. Yes. So much to learn. I’m 84 and currently getting what may be a crash course before I die. I think the last years are definitely about dying to self, but the getting rid of the ego is like playing the game “Whack a Mole!” Idealism is a personality trait some of us are dealt at birth. More are dealt a realistic practicality. Both extremes have to be outgrown sometime along the second half of our individual journey enough to become balanced by the other. If we could go with this natural process now that people are living longer and longer, there might be a lot of balanced and wise people who could work together instead of having tunnel vision and fighting. I don’t think I’ll be here for that though.

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    • It’s like trying to gain humility — almost impossible. 🙂 Having a sense of humor about oneself is something that should be stressed more in our education as humans. Yes, there are serious mistakes we make but self-hatred seems to drive a lot of bad behaviors. I guess so does too much self-love. A balance is needed!

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  3. Have to admit though, That the quote from Poe doesn’t resonate for me. What I’ve found is that pleasure trumps pain….whatever gives us pleasure or pain either physical or emotional.
    Really found your sharing very interesting and relatable. Thanks.

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    • I know especially with our adopted daughter, she struggles with impulsively trying to alleviate her pain with quick fixes that often lead to bigger problems, so I get the mixed motivations for self-medicating.

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