Addiction and Revulsion

tl;dr

I am not repulsed by the object of my addiction. That might be an inconvenience but I don’t think it’s a problem.

I don’t think revulsion is helpful. The point is to look forward: find a way back to the right path and, while on the path, focus on the goal ahead.

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I’m not entirely convinced that describing my bad habits as “addiction” is useful, but I did used to smoke cigarettes (most of the 1980s, sometimes quite heavily; haven’t smoked at all since mid 1990s). Smoking cigarettes is uncontroversially an addiction so that habit gives me a comparison.

Recovered or recovering addicts sometimes talk about feeling revulsion for the object of their addiction & how their craving overcomes their revulsion, or how they still indulge in the activities that revolt them.

I’ve never felt that revulsion. e.g. with cigarettes, I never stopped enjoying smoking. I did have several failed attempts at quitting.

Towards the end of an episode when I’ve over-indulged and I’m sated I feel some revulsion bu tI think that’s different. That’s like the revulsion we feel when we’re given another bowl of trifle when we’ve already had four.

I do feel revulsion at myself (mild with smoking, stronger with pr0n) when I relapse — but that revulsion is linked to my weakness of will (or my strength of will in the wrong direction). It’s not linked to the object/activity, which I enjoy.

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Enjoying the fast

I have been fasting for just over a week now. Actually since midday Wednesday 20th March 2019. I want to write about it because it’s starting to waver and I need to give myself a bit of a boost. I am starting to waver I mean.

enjoying

Fasting (from sin) is not just avoidance of certain activities but is a positive activity in itself. Success of the fast depends — as much as or perhaps more than it depends on will-power in resisting sin — in enjoying and even celebrating the fasting.

Part of that can be enjoying the feeling of exerting power over myself. Enjoying the feeling of my exerting power over my weaker sinful side. Loving and guiding power of course put power nonetheless. There’s a danger of Pride creeping in here, so I must identify the side of me exerting power — my true self if you like — with Christ and the Holy Spirit. The side of me that loves Christ, finds refuge in Christ’s love, draws inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

My weaker side is not really to be vanquished but loved and reconciled to Christ along with the rest of me. I went through a phase of thinking of sins and sinful desires as demons possessing me, but now I think I should “own” these desires myself. These sins are things I do, these sinful desires are desires I have. I must weaken these desires and replace them with more wholesome joyful desires.

Celebrating the fast can also include chronicling successes and failures here and on twitter. This might be tedious or cringe-inducing for the reader.

Inspiration for this section came from Stuart L. Tutt‘s posts:

the fast

For Lent (from 6th March) I was (and still am) on an easy (but still worthwhile) fast — no social media apart from what is necessary for work (my Christian social media use is exempt: it is lightweight and it earns its keep). It was (and still is) going well.

On 17th March I read Fasting for Spiritual Wellness by Sarah Geringer. The post is about fasting from sugar and it talks directly about cravings and how to tackle them during a fast. I found it inspiring and couldn’t help but think about my cravings — not my twitter-fast-related cravings, there weren’t any, my bad-habit-related cravings which are there all the time even when I’m not fasting.

I found Sarah’s post inspiring and, boosted by the success of my easy fast, I started thinking about a more ambitious fast from my remaining bad habits. By Tuesday 19th March I had made up my mind and the fast was on.

Actually, not quite. All this sustained attention on the issue led to a long binge Tuesday night and Wednesday morning (wife was away). So the fast really started after that.

Tombstone

(see Ugh, …, opening a way through.)

Ugh, …, opening a way through

In those last two posts I sounded like a whiny spoilt teenager. They are now “private” but I can bring them back if there’s demand.

The “remorse” phase was starting to creep in yesterday even while I was handing over the cash. I worked hard yesterday (as well as “playing” hard) and after a long miserable phone call with my wife W I realised I was utterly exhausted. The phone conversation didn’t cause the exhaustion, though some realisations I made during it hammered the remorse and the exhaustion home. Real exhaustion is a strange full body feeling. I crawled into bed as soon as I put the phone down — I made some decisions first — and let the realisations sink in and work themselves out.

Headlines:

  • W is lonely.
  • I have to throw out all that stuff I bought, all #110-worth — before I get on the train back home.

Also:

  • Self-care is important. Real self-care must (a) be really care for self, not indulgence or “giving in”; (b) include care for the bodies of which I am a part.
  • I have been hiding away some of the parts of me that W likes, that attracted W in the first place (e.g., sensuality, not-being-like-other-men, especially-men-of-her-generation).

I worry about ending like this (like that!) again. I must:

  • Turn the yoga/running/cycling up to 11 — not to tire myself out, but to place my sensuality in the public space (I mean “not secret”) (I would include wine, whisky, and delicious food in the sensuality category but W is less interested in all that nowadays).
  • Encourage a shared sensuality with W. Establish a shared sensuality. This is probably the most important local peak.
  • Nip this weirdness in the bud if/when it arises again. I don’t feel any more it is a special central part of me. It was a very early development in me to be sure, but I feel now it was an infection of the world. I think gender and fetishes are devil work that blind people, or blinker them, box them in, tie them to anti-human structures.
  • I really mean nip it in the bud. I think a blast of strong porn (as a means to an end) would be preferable. I don’t want to lean on porn, but if a foghorn through the system is what it takes so be it.
  • Have a strong, rejoicing sense of myself in Jesus (that is part of my current reading of Ephesians, in Beth’s Worthy Reading Group on FB). I am a genius, I have special insight (so does everyone else) — that sounds proud perhaps but I don’t feel it is. I don’t feel proud. I want to rejoice myself, and feel I can do that and be humble at the same time. Key is (a) rejoicing other people too; (b) rejoicing myself as part of something bigger and more worthy of rejoice — i.e., Jesus. Feeling myself as part of the body of Christ is a wonderful joy.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

I used to know this sonnet off by heart. A useful poem for me to have in mind.

Sonnet 129

Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,

Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

(source)

Chastity

I got a fright in a second-hand bookshop recently when God found me an edited selection of Bonhoeffer’s letters and papers from prison. I haven’t started reading it properly yet. Dipping into it I found this:

The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity is bound to become ridiculous. Chastity is the presupposition for clear and considered thinking.

Bonhoeffer’s prose is so simple and clear, so easy to read. The damage is done before you even realise you’ve read it. He seems to be speaking about me and my life exactly. The root cause (one root cause) of my weakness and misery is because I am completely aimless. Apart from the need to make money.

Here’s something I wrote on chastity a few years ago on my (now deleted) bisexual panty fetishist blog “Perfect Lips, Flawless Fingertips”:

Chastity

A few thoughts to get me started:

  1. Chastity is moral purity. The word comes from the Latin castus, which means clean or pure (perhaps especially in a moral sense).
  2. Chastity precludes sex if and only if sex is immoral. Sex is not immoral. Therefore chastity does not preclude sex. Syllogism-stylee there for fans of propositional calculus.
  3. Previous point means that it is possible to be chaste and still have plenty of sex. Interesting and important.
  4. Moral purity does not come from following rules. Rules follow from prior conception of morality. Therefore it is possible to follow the rules but still not be morally pure.
    1. see Jesus, passim.
    2. Chastity belts and other devices miss the point twice: it’s not about sex; temptation is already sin.
  5. So what is my conception of moral purity? My guiding stars are Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Spinoza’s Ethics (I know Spinoza hated Aristotle but I think it’s OK to mix) and, more concretely, the practice of true love.
  6. The ends of The Good are human flourishing — eudaemonia, the growth of love, call it what you like.
  7. Chastity involves knowledge of the value of love and knowledge of the value of one’s own love.
    1. Chastity includes knowledge of the value of oneself (e.g., as a source of love).
    2. These points have implications for the practice of sex.
  8. Is it possible to be chaste without knowing it? No. Chastity involves knowledge of what chastity is and that one is chaste oneself.
    1. Someone who is chaste without knowing it should be called innocent.

More when there is more.

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