My Gilligan’s Island

It almost has that 60’s nostalgic feeling, a tale of a fateful trip, the lyrical opening trapped in a loop running on track B. Insights and epiphanies come to you when you least expect them sometimes, they come when they do, they aren’t on a schedule. So when the latest dramatic event happened, it left me with more answers I believe than it did questions for once. I failed out of college, there is definitely a medication issue with my memory and recall that I can blame for some of this. The thing about the whole last few years is I was sober and able to see how I responded and reacted to the world, got some perspective on my directives, and since I did not see it could not change the behaviors and thinking that got me here in time.

What is INFJ?

I stopped drinking and drugging seven years ago, and developed some epic medical issues soon after. It took four years to get to a healthy enough state to entertain getting some things accomplished. In that time I found out I am what is referred to on the Myers -Briggs scale as an INFJ, a personality type that they say is about the one percentile. It leaves me sensitive, highly cognitive and has left me with various creative abilities. I learned that at about the three and a half year mark on this fateful trip, over the next few years I got ok with who I was, I learned that I was a multitude instead of a singular. I found a group of like minded, pun intended, folks who melted right into me and the truth about what I was was revealed. I cried that day, and I am crying a little bit today too, because time is something you don’t get back and getting chances gets slimmer with age. I may have found out what I was, but that didn’t answer all of the questions of why?

My wife and I were talking the night life decided to show me some new ways of looking at myself, my history, my actions. She had just come home and her job is overwhelming her with so much minute BS that the term overwhelming is a little too light. It has been this way for quite some time now, so as she was getting her day together in her head, I was already bubbling with exciting news. So I descriptively said it in this manner. “It is like I have ten wide paths that are within my circumference, I can go anywhere within those paths. But I have a radius too and if I go down one path too much then I am outside of my radius and I start losing parts of the whole. Go down it past a certain amount and I am cut off from my circumference, outside of my radius and lost and confused because I don’t have my nine other roads with me any longer. I can take my circumference to my radius, I can stretch it out along an axis and make it asymmetrical, yet as soon as I go so far I am just like a material and I have a tensile strength and I start to splinter. What comes out at that time is the wiggy little flake because I don’t have much of my other nine pieces with me.” She just looked at me and said that is exactly what is going on in her job, the same feelings, she is overwhelmed. Not taking anything away from her feelings about her job, I made the note that this is my life, my everyday, I can’t tell you what I want to do tomorrow because I truly don’t know, I haven’t told me yet.

We continued talking about her job and the difficulties, I know my mind is still healing because I can literally feel it, and the refrain of my only job is not to make things worse is thumping in my head. When I first learned about this HSP business, the INFJ angle of it all, one of the first things I learned was to be careful when speaking about it because it can be taken a lot of different ways. At that time the creative in me really came out, and I found out what I was, I still had questions of why. I had, and have a lot of work left, there is no stopping that area of recovery and insights. From recovery I had a list of tasks and changes to make, from this personality type I had the same kind of things to look out for. I trained myself to watch out for them, but I have only had a little time with the knowledge and just like recovery from addictions, the personality angles were deeply ingrained and designed to survive, just like a parasite, that is what addiction is and that is what fear and fear bodies do when you don’t know they are there.

Your Body on Fear

So looking back and into my history, looking back into my actions, my internal self destruct buttons that get punched at when the roads start disappearing, it made sense. I have been successful at doing things which allow me to keep enough of my roads with me, enough down time to catch up. But during it all, I kept on feeling I was out of place, that one or two roads that I had to give up to be successful pulling me backwards, tripping the self destruct buttons because I was too afraid. Too afraid to get out of my radius too far because I literally break down and feel like a hollow soul, and my personality type needs that soul filled. I have gone far down those areas outside of my radius, I do things all the way, very detailed and thought out. I have a habit of doing things to the point of hurting myself both physically and mentally, thinking that it was just a little farther and I will find a new radius. Each time I did that I died a hard death, I had to give up everything and regress… no change. Change is hard, beginning again over and over is hard, resilience they call it, blindingly stupid is how I feel.

I thought I had problems with responsibility, with hard work, with being normal. I just wanted to work at the mill, like dad and grandpa, have a normal life and die. What I found out is that I was too afraid to take responsibility for any one or two of my abilities, afraid to take them too far because it would mean giving up all the rest, or it would take up all my energies and leave me unable and afraid to do something else I had to do to keep me in balance. For myself, staying in balance is not a two direction, one way or the other movement but one that requires a constant movement between the various roads within my circle. It looks like some chimpanzee at times and makes me feel like one too, but this whack-a-mole dance that I have to keep an eye on just made itself aware to me. If I choose to do one thing or another, the other abilities will throw a tantrum and mess everything up if they are not part of the equation. So it wasn’t a matter of responsibilities, or work, or being normal, it was always what I was able to give up, what would I have to stop doing to do this or that? So it wasn’t lack of responsibility, but like anything else, a fight or flight mechanism designed to keep me from being hurt again and again, like I had up to… well… now.

I have been successful in recovery because I had help from others, one part being  identifying those things in my life that made me want to drink and drug, the things that drove me there. I have been less successful with this personality type because there is nobody that can answer some things but yourself, and if you don’t know what you are up against, you usually get your butt kicked by it one way or another. When this first hit me, I went straight to selfishness and self-serving, but I remembered how painful and frustrating this all has been and I went to the survival part and recognized that this is how I am. The radius is now something tangible and seen, it may be moveable beyond my ken of it yet. I am just receiving this epiphany, my post office has been a mess for years, and I have no idea when it was sent. I am still filtering through the history and thoughts as I peel back this medication for the next few months. I told my wife that I wouldn’t feel like something was “coming back” if I hadn’t actually been affected by it. I have already begun to take care of my physical self better, during school I realized I was going without a proper diet, few calories a day and not usually good ones. I have begun to exercise too almost like I had lost an old friend. This is also part of it as well, this writing business, I may have to learn how to do it one day.

There will be more to this tale, and maybe I can get us all rescued somehow. In the meanwhile I have the task of going through recovery again, a drug is a drug, illicit or prescribed, and neither is fun to detox from. It will be a good reminder for my recovery from the booze and illicit drugs and a reminder that sobriety is not just giving up the bottles, but bettering oneself for the rest of your days. I will meet up with my college counsellor next week to discuss all of this, so it is nice to at least have something to say. It is also so sad and painful that so many had helped me get into college, helped me succeed in an environment I was fearful and afraid of, only to have it fall apart like this. When I spoke at commencement last Summer I was reminded that we are all there to better ourselves. Although my initial task was to get a degree and be successful in college, my overall biggest lessons have been the personal kind, huge lessons on life, and a gratitude that will not end. It is in having to give up all of that, right when I have learned so much, is disappointing and painful. I have bettered myself, completed my GED, got a little college, and answered some of my life’s biggest questions. But I have let myself and others down again, and forgiveness of self is something I just have not come close to learning enough of. Maybe I can still rescue myself from my Gilligan’s Island and not feel like and make myself a castaway any longer.

The Skipper

 

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