People have addictions which seem incomprehensible to people who
don’t have those addictions. Take gambling as an example, non
gamblers just don’t understand how or why someone would spend every
available opportunity sitting in a casino and disposing of all of their
money. From an outside view it looks like unbelievable stupidity.
It seems to be a boring, repetitious and frustrating hobby at best. On a
logical level, we wonder why those people haven’t worked out that ‘the
house always wins’. The gambler loves to dance around and brag about
the times he did win, even though we all see that the final outcome is
that he has no home, no money in the bank and a huge credit debt. Yet,
on a small winning streak he can be completely oblivious to this fact.
The gamblers belief in winning the big one is greater than the reality of
what has happened, what is happening and what will predictably
happen. In short, the dream is more real than the reality.
The same can be said for drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, sex and all
addictions. The reality of an addicts life might be sheer devastation but
the belief that one more * will be what the dream expects itself to be.
It seems to me, that a dream can hook into a compartment within the
mind and become completely embedded. It is like a sacred place and it
contains all we want. It could be wealth, happiness, love, security or
whatever. We all have desires and we all have dreams and we all have
a place in out minds in which we live out those possibilities. The gambler
might have originally had a dream of a big win; he probably had a
couple of good wins initially and that reinforced the dream. Somehow
though, the gambler became addicted to the dream. The big win
becomes a primary point of reference and in time all experiences loop
back to that point of reference. That is, information and experience gets
filtered through the point of reference. Some refer to this as classic
denial. I call it, ‘The Happy Place’.
It seems impossible to talk logic or facts to an addict. They filter out what
you say; they might pretend to listen, or they argue with you or they
blank you out completely. Their eyes glaze over and you can almost
hear them singing lah, lah, lah as you speak. They have gone to their
This is probably familiar to anyone who has had a relationship with
someone with one of these major addictions. What is less obvious is
that most of us are operating under a very similar pattern – and that is:
Obsessions can be hidden or seem as harmless or perhaps a little
quirky. Someone else’s obsession may be boring to us, but we don’t pay
much attention as we are rarely affected by them to any real degree.
Many of us don’t even know that we are obsessed. Yes, we all have our
little happy places and we all filter facts to suit our delusions. But, for
many of us, we are destroying our lives or at least our potential lives.
I remember when a friend of mine became obsessed with her boss.
When she first started talking about him, I thought she sounded like a
schoolgirl with a secret crush. Within a short period of time, I wondered
if she was actually stalking the poor guy. (He was happily married and
did not flirt or encourage my friend in any way.) For almost two years
she talked about him as if they were lovers. Almost every conversation
we had somehow looped back to him. She would say things like, ‘Alan
went to Bali last year, so this year, I am going to Bali and I will stay at the
same hotel that he stayed in. Alan loves blue, so I am going to wear
something blue every day. I’m learning to play tennis now, so Alan and I
will have more in common. Alan loves Italian food, so I…’
Then there were the magical signs that Alan was ‘The One,’ ‘We both
have an older brother and a younger sister. He has a cousin called
Linda and so do I. Alan’s name has four letters in it and so does mine’.
Almost everything she said, started with, ‘Did I mention Alan…Alan
would love this…That reminds me of Alan…Alan has one of those…’
Finally, it came to, “I can’t make any plans – Alan might call,” and,
“When Alan and I are married…”
This example might sound a little extreme, but really, I know heaps of
women who think and live this way. I couldn’t count the number of
women I know, who meet a guy, and by the second date start talking
obsessively and possessively about him. Not in a “I wonder...' or 'I hope
someday...’ kind of a way either, but in a ‘This is real and true…’ kind of
Mark is obsessed by horses. He spends hours every weekend
searching antique shops and the Internet to buy anything – that is,
everything he can find that has something to do with horses. He has
ornaments, statues, posters and jewelry stuffed in to three rooms of his
home. He doesn’t even know what he owns and much of it has not even
been unpacked. In effect, half of his home is storage – crammed to the
ceilings with boxes of stuff, filled with horse paraphernalia. He is not a
jockey or an owner, nor is he a farmer. He has no real relationship with
horses at all. But he bores everyone senseless with his endless
conversations about horses.
Religion is another common obsession. I have had to sever friendships
over this one. I have had people break down and weep for my soul and
plead with me to listen. One woman really distressed me when she
turned almost every conversation into signs of ‘the end of the world’. No
matter what I said, she seemed to answer with something along the lines
of Satan talking through me. Almost everything I said or did resulted in a
biblical quote of the Armageddon variety.
Rob was obsessed with money; he was a wealthy entrepreneur but didn’
t seem to enjoy life very much. I remember traveling on a train with him
and commenting on the ocean views. He ignored me completely, and I
noticed that he was looking out the opposite window. “That land will be
worth a fortune one day. If I could subdivide that…” I also gave him a gift
once and he pulled it apart. I thought that he didn’t like it, but it turned
out he liked it so much that he had dismantled it to see how it worked.
He wanted to copy and export them. When we went to restaurants he
would compare prices with other restaurants. Going anywhere with him
was like spending a day with, The Count from Sesame Street!
Julie was obsessed with her looks. Every time we met, she would ask
what I thought of her hair, clothes, shoes or skin. She spent most of her
spare time and money on beauty products, clothes and hair care. When
we went out, she would ask if she was slimmer or younger looking than
other women in the room. She constantly reapplied make up and fiddled
with her hair and clothes. Boring!!!!
Then there are the health conscious and illness obsessions. Sport and
work are often common obsessions. I wonder if all of us might have at
least one thing which we refer to or compare with, in an unconscious,
It’s like there is one main point of reference within the mind which we
filter almost all of our thoughts through. What concerns me about
obsessions is that we close off our awareness to infinite possibilities.
How do we get to better ways or different ways, if we keep getting stuck
at only one way? How much of ourselves are we really seeing, if we can
only define ourselves as one thing? I also wonder, what this mechanism
is that hooks into this one thing, and why we don’t seem to recognize it
or question it. When so many of these obsessions are destructive or at
least severely limiting, then why won’t we let go of them.
What’s really interesting is that we see it so clearly in others, but
probably have never taken the time to question ourselves. Have a
casual look in the next few days and you might actually find one or more
of your own. If it serves you well then stay with it, but if not, then it might
be worth trying to change it or replace it. Apart from driving your friend’s
nuts or boring them to death, you might actually find something else a
lot more worthwhile to obsess about.
Copyright Sonya Green 08
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