Friday, February 11, 2011

Everyday Wounds and the Salve of Addiction

I'm reading Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand's harrowing memoir of Louie Zamperini, a B-24 bombardier during World War II. A gunner on Zamperini's crew was hit by enemy fire during the air battle over Nauru. He was injured and bleeding, but kept firing his gun, staving off several Japanese Zeros that otherwise might have taken them down.

Emotionally, our everyday lives can be like a bombing run. Flak flies all around, and sometimes chunks make it through our armament. In the heat of battle, coursing with adrenaline, we might be able to ignore what we're feeling and keep manning our station. 

But what do we do once we're out of the fray and back at our base? 

Then it's wise to attend to the pain. Tell the medic where it hurts. Clean out the wound so it can heal instead of festering. 

What if we pretend we don't need a medic, and just head for the officer's club instead? Well, we'll probably be drinking more whiskey than usual on nights like that.

Gene used to rely on porn to ease the sting of emotional flak. Now he talked to his wife, Linda. 

Yesterday he was putting out little fires all morning at work. Then at lunchtime he got an email from the CEO chastising him for bidding too low on a big job for a demanding customer. "Work this hard and still can't please anyone," Gene thought. 

He had no time to stop and eat lunch. Thinking about all the phone calls and emails he had to catch up on ruined his appetite anyway. He worked through most of his lunch hour. 

However, before walking into his first afternoon meeting, Gene took a minute to text Linda. "hard day demand after demand found out i dropped a ball (big one) sore throat craving relief probably won't be home til 9 or 10 moan"

That's right.

Attend to the pain.

Say where it stings.

Clean it out.

Don't let it fester.

He discovered that evening that poor cell phone coverage in their building had prevented the text from even getting through to Linda.

And yet it had worked. It showed him that simply expressing a need can be as powerful as actually addressing it. Maybe expressing it is the most important part of addressing it.

It hadn't made the day easy. It hadn't eased the burning in his throat. But he knew what he needed at the end of the day, too. A hot meal and the chance to unload about his day with Linda. After he'd done that, he felt some relief. He was ready to go to sleep. He wasn't left jonesin' for the salve of his addiction.

1 comment:

  1. Can you talk more about the interaction of expressing and addressing his need and how that plays into his addictive behaviors