I’m really glad I found this site. This problem is going to kill me if I don’t deal with it. I am 30, and it hasn’t gotten any better with time, the stakes however have gotten higher.
Abut three weeks ago I started attending AA meetings with my uncle, who is a recovering alcoholic with 1 year of sobriety. I found the experience inspirational, moving and helpful, but I just didn’t feel like an “alcoholic” more like someone with a troubled relationship with drinking. I found stopping drinking about as hard (so far –its been three weeks) as kicking some other annoying habit. Although tempted, I didn’t feel like I thought about it all the time. However I finally made the cognitive connection that drinking was a short term solution to a long term problem. Sounds logical right?
Then something my uncle said to me recently made me think- about my life being “unmanageable” and that I needed to “surrender” to that fact. Surrender was one of the big themes of AA that I found hard to swallow.
Then I was watching Dr Drew’ latest reality show about sex addiction, and I thought about my own compulsive porn habit. That activity seemed like much more of an addictive behavior than drinking. I had always known of my life long procrastination “problem” but I had never thought of it as addiction before.
After reading a few posts (thanks Pedro), I recognize that procrastination does give me a “kick.” A high that I engage in compulsively. I’m addicted to avoidance, to escapism, and to fantasy. My three biggest escape activities are porn/masturbation, reading, and TV/movies. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem like my life or my body are my own. Its like there’s a voice in my head that urges me not to think, but just to go ahead and DO whatever escapist option presents itself. Anything to escape from the present reality and the feelings that go along with it. Even staying in bed. Whatever resolutions I make the night before go right out the window…unless I am literally going to get fired or some other life altering consequence, 99 out of 100 times I am hitting snooze and rolling over. The only strategies I find helpful are putting as stimulant (coffee, tea, pills) beside the bedside table to consume immediately upon waking, then going back to sleep, and putting an alarm on the other side of the room. (Of course going to bed at a normal time and not staying up all hours reading or watching TV would help a lot too.)
I hate myself. I feel like a total failure. I am totally ashamed. And I know shame is one of addiction’s greatest allies, because it prevents honesty, directness, and asking for help.
I feel like my life is not my own. Like I’m not a real person because I can’t go out and get the things I want out of life. Sooner or later you have to do things that are unpleasant, difficult, intimidating, scary, personal. You have to be comfortable with failure, You have to be comfortable acting contrary to your impulses and desires. Its like I feel paralyzed. SO many opportunities in this life I know I’ve let slip. And wow I just realized in writing this that that is what people in AA talk about as a consequence to drinking – all the bridges burned, etc.) Every day defined by avoidance of the big issues and the quest for a pseudo meaningful escape activity. Like reading some intellectual, philosophical book- sure it deals with the “big” issues, but the small ones need to be dealt with too, like shoveling the walk or some other chore.
I think procrastination started in about 6th-7th grade, when there was marked shift in school away from creative learning to output oriented execution. For the first time in my academic career it didn’t matter how well I grasped the material. Success depended upon the juggling of responsibilities and the completion of increasing amount of homework projects, i.e. exercises in sustained commitment.
Or maybe escapism had its roots even earlier. After my parents divorced, books and the occasional stolen minutes of TV were the only tangible sources of pleasure. I could lose myself and the realities of an authoritarian and chaotic upbringing in fantasy. I consumed books the way a food addict does Twinkies.
When they diagnosed me with ADD and put me on stimulant medication ( I have been off and on for the last 15 years), which I found somewhat benefited concentration but mostly heightened the experience of procrastination. I would take the pills, then go up into my room and play sim city or some role playing game. I realize now those games seemed far more pleasurable because they were diversion form doing homework. It was like a feeling of control/power, and sort of a guilty pleasure feeling.
For the last year I have been unemployed, telling friend and family I have been writing, taking classes, but mostly just wasting huge amounts of time. Its no way to live. My kind, loving and supportive girlfriend just moved to Germany and wants me to join her over there. She has basically been supporting me the last year.
The biggest thing I am avoiding these days is finding a new job. I haven’t even looked at my resume in years. I feel so out of sync with the world. I feel unemployable and miserable. Its, like I’m not even sure I want a job! I get so resentful b/c I feel like my abilities and attributes aren’t prized in this world (crazy, right?) and I never get recognized for what I do right, only what I do wrong. These feelings probably stem from a perfectionist, critical parent model. I guess I’ve felt like I have always had to be someone I’m not my whole life, like just being “me” just was never good enough. And maybe that resentment is the most damaging thing of all, b/c it’s a lose-lose approach. If I try to “play ball,” I always fell short, and if I try to succeed in something I care about, I will be seen as “wasting time.” So I might as well just sink into the pits of procrastination, play the part of the eternally underachieving martyr, and leave the world behind.
Phew. It feels really good to get that all off my chest, sorry to go on and on but when I get going, look out.