21 Jun 2011
In the 1960’s Burt Bacharach wrote the music and lyrics for Tony Awarded musical Promises, Promises on Broadway and the world was soon humming to the global pop classic " I’m never gonna fall in love again" – What do you get when you fall in love / You only get lies and pain and sorrow / so for at least until tomorrow / I’ll never fall in love again.
Serial romantics will recall, re-call, as past flings flash by like luggage on a carousel of the mind. Picking yourself up and trying again regardless, is seen as brave by the majority and stupid by the minority. Promising never to fall in love again in the same way is soon forgotten. Codependency is the core of all addictions including love, romance and sex addictions and all are fueled by broken promises, high expectations, perfectionism and lack of logic. When Marianne Williamson said " the problem is NOT that I attract dysfunctional men into my life, the problem is that I give them my telephone number " highlights the power of addiction versus common sense and knowledge, when it comes to ‘acting out’ in the moment. The majority would consider endless tales of emotional relationship drama as normal, while the minority would be up for inspection, checking out the emotional highway code and slowing down at a speed-bump instead of going hell for leather over it. Only by slowing down a habit can you exercise authority over it.
Susan Cheever in her book – DESIRE / Where Sex Meets Addiction – offers insight on why we set ourselves up for failure, returning time and time again to the base line of rejection & disappointment :
"With human beings, how can we distinguish between passion and addiction? One primary characteristic of addiction is always a broken promise, whether it’s a promise made to yourself or to another person. Addicts are people who promise not to do something again and again and inevitably find that they have done it anyway. The most recognised symptoms of addiction is that it causes us to do things we wish we didn’t do. The addiction sweeps away all inhibitions, all good intentions, everything but need. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t, we say. This can begin in a way that seems completely harmless. Some addictions lead to ruined lives and others lead to lost sleep and some extra credit card debt, but the mechanics of the addiction are the same. Addiction is not weakness, it is helplessness. Addiction is not a lack of willpower, it is a powerlessness over the substance or behavior in question.
It is this broken promise that causes everything about addiction in our society, from the proliferation of drug rehabs to the high divorce rate. Weddings are often ceremonies built around one of the most public and important promises many of us will make in our lifetimes. Some addictive substances are more benign than others. I sometimes stay up until two or three in the morning reading a book when I have to be up by seven. I want to stop and sleep because without enough sleep my day doesn’t go well. At the end of each chapter I promise myself that I will only read one more. The seriousness of the promise that is broken may be one way to define an addiction. When I promise myself to stop reading at midnight, I know that I don’t really mean it."
This plausible suggestion that we numb ourselves with failure by promises, be it a marriage vow, a diet or adhering to ridiculous government ‘units’ of drinking is recognition that addiction in any form is about punishment. Self scolding is more widespread than crack and far more damaging long term. Learning to forgive yourself for overstepping the mark is a turning point in self examination. Learning to live "in the moment" is the cry of knee deep high spiritual tomes on airport bookshelves, but learning not to over-achieve, over-plan and over-promise is a lesson less taught. Because we refuse to establish our perfection "in the moment" we strive to improve who we think we are. Loving yourself is not self indulgent, it’s a daily duty of honouring the perfection inside we refuse to view.
Recall all the times as a child that you "must promise to be good" or Santa wont come with presents. That memory, that resonance still rings loud and clear in many ears. Does it really do any harm to spend an extra hour reading in bed or still on the net @3am? Will this path lead to a crackhouse? Unlikely, but balanced living and thinking is a question of PRACTICE and if you practice edging to your ego, thinking you will get away with it one more time, be warned that the dividing line between heavy usage of chems and chronic addiction is thin, as example. Best if you practice dropping promises and see where you end up. If you don’t need to be awake by seven, then no harm done, but 3 days out of 7 with 4 hours sleep will eventually create a pattern and it’s subconscious patterning that rule our lives. The pattern of punishment.
Todays suggestion is to check out where you batter yourself with promises, write them down, see how ridiculous the whole game is and set fire to them. Then learn to accept that promising is just another pair of stocks to put your head in . . .
. . . but I can’t promise that any of this will work.