A Complicated Obsession
I have a friend whose behavior is driving me nuts and, frankly, scaring me. My basic issue with her is that she does not seem to be learning. I have tried to warn her about consequences of her actions for years in person, on the phone, and even through email. She is not learning. She possesses no insight. Now she is not sleeping due to, in my opinion, a guilty conscience. I cannot help her.
The issue of not learning is extraordinarily complicated. The brain’s health is related to diet and sleep, in addition to a gazillion other possibilities. Learning is related to consciousness. There are different, including altered, states of consciousness. There is the whole “what gets rewarded, gets repeated” aspect. There is also the concept of addiction, which puts a grinding halt to learning and maturing as a whole. One definition of addiction that I like is that of creating a fantasy world and then trying to live there. That about sums it up.
I spent thirty years helping Barry to be straight and sober. No alcohol on the premises. Taking him to meeting when he stopped being able to drive. Celebrating sobriety anniversaries. That kind of thing.
I have spent most of my life wrapped around these issues in one form or another. It started out with reading about addiction and codependence in the late 80s and early 90s. That got me into the concept of “automatic pilot” and how similar it is to altered states of consciousness. I also got into brain wave frequencies (gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta). All of this, to some degree, is nutrition-dependent. Then there is the whole social aspect. Here is all the systems theory anyone ever needs to know: what gets rewarded, gets repeated. People do what has worked for them in the past on some level. If they are no longer getting the reward (prestige, money, high, their way), their behavior can become extinct in moments (not days, weeks, months, or years). None of this even touches the various ways people learn or the forms of ADD, Aspergers, etc.
I have spent close to thirty years reading on subjects that are not in the same section of the bookstore. Addiction. Buddhism (meditation and mindfulness). Religion of every kind. Quantum physics. The autism spectrum. Child rearing (every human should read Alice Miller). Organizational psychology.
I am to a point where I feel I should write a book. Seriously. I have connected dots that I don’t think others have.
And then my friend makes me want to tear my hair out. She is getting older but not wiser. She is aging but not maturing. And since she is not sleeping, the downward spiral has commenced. How long will it take to hit bottom? Will she, can she, learn anything from this? This is tripping all my issues. Every time I have had someone in my life that has done one of these downward spirals, I have tried to warn them. I have been ignored. Eventually, I lose the relationship entirely because I refuse to go down the road they are on. That has included my family. Their life crumbles and I get accused of being a bad whatever. I feel that when you see a train that is going to run over a loved one, there is a certain moral obligation to give fair warning. But I cannot and will not try to convince anyone of anything anymore. I have had my lifetime fill of that. Once I warn you, you are on your own. The next step is for me to get my ass off the tracks.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I am sure that it won’t be pretty.