People say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It turns out they are not only right but that I am the literal definition of insane. Today I finally discovered the cycle of regression that I have been in for the better part of ten years.
If you are waiting for me to tell you about some earth-shattering moment of clarity or blinding light on the road to Damascus, then I am afraid you are going to be bitterly disappointed. The truth is that when the big moment arrived, it was marked by little more than a half-hearted sigh.
The best way I can describe the situation is an endless series of attempts to turn back the clock to a time where I felt happier and more fulfilled. Several times a year, I would make an active attempt to reestablish a relationship that I should never have had in the first place.
It was as if I was trying to trick my brain into releasing that dopamine rush it was so fond of handing out back in my late twenties. Never once did I take the time to consider why I was doing such things, or for that matter what I hoped I would achieve by upsetting everyone else’s life.
The truth is that when I find myself under emotional or mental stress, then I have a habit of regressing to earlier stages in my life. While not a new phenomenon, it is one that I am perfectly well aware: Only in a more extreme form as a self-preservation mechanism.
Other times I typically regress to some child-like state, retreating into a world of superheroes, model soldiers, video games or old TV shows: Basically anything that would give me a sense of place and security one most associates with childhood or early adolescence.
From time to time, the regression manifest in a much simpler form, and I take on a child-like attitude being equal measures flippant and ignorant of my more immediate problems. Thankfully this kind backwards step only last for an hour or so and does surprisingly little damage to the present.
Today’s discovery is a third flavour, one where I try to return to a time when I had more control and less responsibility: One where I felt loved, happy and secure, not as a child but as an adult. The problem with this form of regression is that it requires others to return to that earlier period with me.
At best this results in “What the fuck?” and at worst I end up opening old wounds and pulling others down into my self-indulgent drama. The only thing worse than my discovery is that it means confronting the idea I might not always be the good guy in these things.
Fortunately, my self-image is a problem for another time. For today I will be happy enough knowing that I have at least broken out of a destructive pattern.