Tag Archives: Addiction

Humiliation Represses Real Emotions and Causes Passive Aggressive and Destructive Behavior

For most of my childhood I was told I was a wimp, a nerd and a geek. That was humiliating. When I got sad about it I was told I was weak. When I got angry about it I was labeled a spaz. Those feelings were also humiliating. Of course I did not like feeling humiliated but I  was stuck in a no win situation. The best solution I could come up with was to hide my sadness and my anger because I did not want to feel humiliation on top of humiliation. In this way humiliation kept me from feeling my sadness and anger.

But the sadness and anger did not go anywhere. They were still there, deep down and came out from time to time like an erupting volcano whenever I was pushed past my breaking point or when I was safely alone. For some reason every Christmas Eve I found myself alone watching A Christmas Carol and wept uncontrollably whenever I saw the scene where Scrooge finally accepts his nephew Fred’s invitation to dinner and Fred welcomed him happily even though Scrooge assumed he would not. When the sadness and anger did erupt in front of other people (and to a lesser extent when I was alone) I felt the sting of humiliation which pushed those feelings back down again. The humiliation had the effect of negating my truly feeling those emotions and getting the relief they should have provided me.

I have since learned that in order to be a full person and to grow I must be able to feel my sadness and anger without humiliation. I need to own those feelings as authentic and acceptable parts of me. I need to welcome them in a non judgmental manner and with love. They are the truest emotions I have and I can never fully feel happiness if I am never allowed to feel those feelings without feeling humiliated for expressing them outwardly. They reflect my true self and if I reject them I reject my true self as well.

For a long time I did not know any of this. I thought it was wrong to express sadness and anger. I thought strong, responsible people do not do this and only weak and irresponsible people cannot control the outward expression of their true emotions. But suppressing or perhaps repressing these emotions caused anxiety and depression. It also caused passive aggressive behaviors like internet trolling, and the sarcastic judgment and shaming of others. It also gave rise to addictions that numbed out the feeling of humiliation.

When I finally was able to feel my sadness and anger without humiliation the anxiety, depression and all the rest of it began to ebb. It was as if the humiliation was a foreign entity that invaded my body. It was a parasite that reproduced itself from person to person by the way I was treated and by the way I in turn treated other people. By becoming aware of this dynamic not only did I begin to heal myself but I also took steps to stop the spread of this illness.

1 Comment

Filed under Shame, Uncategorized

Speaking Truth

I have always been afraid to speak my truth because part of me believes that if people really knew what I was thinking they would reject me. As a result I tried to figure out what whoever I was talking to wanted to hear and said it. Over time I developed this skill until it came off as natural. People seemed to like me. The only problems were that I eventually lost touch with who I really was I what I really wanted in life. There was a true self buried deep down that was becoming angry (and sad) for being imprisoned.

At a family wedding I recently attended I had a conversation with my sisters about my aging parents. Later in the night back at their hotel room after a few drinks I sort of let my guard down and started saying some rough things about my parents and them. I let out all my resentments regarding my up bringing and how that created the situation where I no longer knew what I wanted and felt pretty much like a failure.

I told my sisters that I did not really have any feelings for our parents anymore and that every time I talk with them I feel horrible. My Dad does not say much anymore. My mother always makes me feel like I have done something wrong. I do not like feeling this and I am starting to question why I have to submit myself to those feelings just because they are my parents. I also went off on my sisters about how they treated me when I was younger, how cruel they were and how humiliated they made me feel.

My older sister tried to turn it around on me and I told her to go f*ck herself. Essentially I never felt entitled to my anger and grief. If it ever came out of me they made me feel humiliated for it. If I spoke my truth I was made to feel humiliated. That negated any entitlement I had to my true feelings and to my true self.

A therapist told me that because of my upbringing I now have to be willing to feel humiliation in order to express my truth. If I am unwilling to feel that then I will never be able to express my truth. For a long time I was unwilling to feel humiliation and as such for a long time I never grew. I was stuck repeating the same old patterns, feeling the same old frustrations. My truth only came out when my guard was down. When my truth came up I felt humiliated both for the truth I expressed and the circumstances under which it was able to come out.

For a few weeks after the wedding I felt the lingering humiliation for saying what I did to my sisters. I’m sure they thought I was the same old weak little brother they grew up with. Only now I am 40 with a drinking problem. I know what I need. I need to feel my anger and grief. I need to own my anger and grief. If I feel humiliation when that happens I need to not abandon myself and join the forces who think that I deserve to be humiliated. I need to put my arm around that humiliated kid and tell him that I am on his side.

Leave a comment

Filed under Shame

A General Overview of My Experience with Alcohol

I remember drinking vodka and fruit punch in the basement of my parents’ house in high school alone on a Friday night.  I felt the buzz.  It felt different, as if something uncomfortable was being erased. I liked it.  Throughout High School I would not say I was a heavy drinker.  When I did drink it was at house parties generally.  I remember the first party I went to and got drunk.  I do not think I got sick and I do not think I felt sick the next day.  I felt like I was doing something different that would put distance between the shy, awkward, geeky persona I projected and make me one of the cool kids.

Then there was the time a friend slept over and we drank, played Monopoly and dipped tobacco in the basement.  In the morning I was really hung over.  I think I told my mother I was sick.  My friend went home and I went to sleep in my room. My mother later discovered the half-finished bottles in a cooler in the basement.  She made me feel like I was the worst criminal in the world.  I think she also suggested sending me to a rehab or a counselor, which I refused. I did not think there was anything wrong with me.  I was just doing what kids my age did.  Later on my Dad drove me around in his car and interrogated me about what I had done. I remember him asking me if I had mixed the alcohol or drank it straight.  I remember not knowing why he wanted that information and feeling really embarrassed and frustrated about answering it.

In college I joined a fraternity.  I drank in the fraternity to be one of the guys.  For the most part it was the time of my life. The worst part was getting so drunk that the room spun or waking up hung over.  But there was also something in me that told me the more I drank, the cooler people would think of me.

I did the same thing after college when I worked and went out with friends (although not to the same degree or extent).  When I went to law school I did the same thing, perhaps to the same extent as in college, but I was living in New Orleans so that is probably an exception.

At some point after I got married and was working for a law firm alcohol became a way of coping with anxiety and depression. It switched from something fun and seemingly inconsequential to something I began to be concerned about and had trouble stopping.

The good thing and the bad thing about alcohol is that it obscures feelings.  It is bad in the sense that if my feelings are obscured then I do not deal with them and do not move past them.  It is good in the sense that sometimes feelings are too much to endure.  If there is no escape and no dealing then maybe it is a good thing to have alcohol around to escape.  Of course the danger of that is addiction and damage to health.  It is not easy to control and becomes more difficult if whatever feelings are being obscured by alcohol are never dealt with.  In my case that feeling was shame.

So the answer in the long run is of course to deal with feelings and ultimately that is how to overcome a problem with addiction.  It is a chicken and the egg type of situation (maybe).

1 Comment

Filed under Shame

Once a Troll, Always a Troll

I felt like trolling was a waste of time but I was compelled to do it.  That is why I had to get myself banned from the message board.  There should be a rehab for trolling just as is for drug addiction.  In reality internet trolling is every bit addicting as drugs are.  Sometimes I think of all the trolls who cannot force themselves to stop.  It is probably ruining their lives because getting back at these people who wronged them on the message board is all that a troll can think about.  When I trolled I constantly and compulsively checked the board for a response to my posts and fearing a response to my posts at the same time.  It became incredibly draining emotionally and at the same time it took top priority in my life.

I remember being really angry when another poster got the better of me but I tried hard not to let that show.  I am sure Admiralbill was doing that as well but he had a very thin skin so he was not very successful.  I remember how fun it was (and depressing) to get him to blow up.  This point must be emphasized: a troll has to put forth the image that nothing affects him and that he thinks it is funny how his victims cannot control their emotions.  Meanwhile, the troll is a simmering volcano.  So on the one hand there is this aspect of a troll’s personality that really gets off on making other people angry (the limbic system / ego I suppose) then there is this other aspect that tells the troll this is wrong (the prefrontal cortex / super ego).  Meanwhile the troll’s true-self sleeps in the background somewhere.  The deeper a troll gets into trolling (or any addiction) the deeper his true-self sinks into sleep and the harder it will be to eventually wake him up.

I remember being infuriated when someone did not respond to a bait.  At the same time I knew my targets well and was confident they would take the bait eventually.  In fact, that was how they became targets in the first place.  They were so reliable.  I knew Admiralbill was a Republican, ex-navy guy, from Texas.  So I knew that posting any article on any of those subjects would get him going especially if they made any of those institutions look even remotely bad.  The Republican thing was easy because there was always an article on global warming, President Bush, the wars, the economy, the debt etc.  If I was advising a neophyte troll I would suggest he read a prospective victim’s posts and find out the things that define this victim.  Then post an article that puts any one of those things in a bad light.  When they react stick with the issues in the article until they get personal.  When this happens, claim only to want to stick to the issues rather than debase yourself by getting personal.  Of course making things personal is precisely the point but this can never be admitted.  It is totally passive aggressive and dishonest.  It is claiming not to be doing what is obviously being done.  This is the essence of shame-based behavior.

I did relapse a couple of times after I was banned from Sistertrek.  Once I came back with the handle “The Gnostic” but everyone on the message board knew it was me immediately.  They let me stay (I think because I made things interesting) until I got banned a second time.  Every now and then I feel the urge to go back but I think I have got it pretty well under control at this point.  I can see myself easily falling back into that behavior so now when I feel the urge I can usually talk myself out of it.  I am sure one day I will relapse again.  Once a troll, always a troll.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

1 Comment

Filed under Shame, Trolling

The Psychology of a Troll

I spent quite a bit of time baiting Admiralbill.  I think it was more than five years before I was banned from the website.  By the time that happened I wanted to be banned.  I needed to end the endless cycle.  It drained my energy.  I was constantly thinking of new ways to piss him off.  To this day part of me still hates how mean and self-righteous he was.  It is enough motivation for me to vote Democrat knowing that in some small way it gets back at him.

There is definitely an addictive cycle when it comes to trolling.  First there is the exhilaration of making a smart post that proves my enemy wrong or makes him look foolish.  Next, and this is usually after he responds with something I did not expect or perhaps a thread has gone on too long and both of us look foolish, self-loathing kicks in.  Self-loathing, of course does not feel good.  It inspired in me a new resolve never to take part in these foolish exchanges again.  Then slowly the compulsion to get back in the game reemerges.  All it would take was a Paul Krugman article that I found particularly persuasive and I was back in.  The exhilaration is the drug that for a moment takes away the pain I feel during the 90% of the rest of the addictive cycle.

I can really only speak for myself but I am pretty sure all internet trolls share a common personality type.  They probably work jobs or live lives that are in someway unsatisfying.  They want to feel special and crave attention and respect.  They are highly dependent on the opinions of other people.  When other people ganged up on Admiralbill I felt vindicated and victorious.  When they ganged up on me I felt defeated and humiliated.  And this is really at the heart of the matter, a message board troll feels intense shame.  It is shame that motivates him to shame others.

My original goal as a troll was to get Admiralbill angry and responding to me.  My secondary goal was to get other people to take my side.  On some level I was operating under the delusion that if I said the right thing, made the strategic argument he would admit he was wrong.  He was probably operating under the same premise.

There are three possible outcomes to any message board debate.  One, the other person concedes defeat.  This never happens but I suppose it is possible.  The closest thing to this is that you get the last word in that digs at them and they do not respond.  Two, you get ganged up on by everyone else and your allies run for cover.  This is defeat, although a true troll will never admit this and will argue that he is being treated unfairly or is misunderstood in some fashion.  Three, the moderator steps in and shuts the thread down.  This is actually a relief sometimes.  When this happens the troll can say to himself that he never gave up and fought the good fight (force majeure).  If I got the last word in before the thread was shut down and before he got a chance to respond, it felt as good as any victory.  If my adversary got the last word in, it stung but I could still say it was out of my hands.

As I said earlier when I got banned from Sistertrek I wanted to get banned.  I could not simply walk away and never post again.  My addiction was too strong.  So I dug at the moderators until they banned me.  It worked and that was a few years ago.  To this day I still think about it and hate Admiralbill.  But every day I do not participate in Sistertrek the hatred goes away a little bit more.  I actually logged on to Sistertrek anonymously to see what was going on not too long ago.  The website is basically run by conservatives and they kicked off all the liberals some time ago.  It is a shell of the community it once was.  There are no longer any lively debates as far as I can tell.  This sort of makes me nostalgic for the good old days.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Shame, Trolling

Internet Trolling is Addictive

I have an addictive personality.  I think this is common among people who have shame-based personalities because to a shame-based person there is generally no escape from shame.  In the shame-based mind there exists a constant criticizing voice.  This criticizer (the super ego) criticizes both the self and the outside world. To the shame-based person these two aspects of the criticizer seem separate.  In fact, they are one and the same.  The self is constantly at fault and the world is constantly acting against the self.  With shame, the self criticizes the self as an attempt to align the self with the outside world in order to be accepted.  Ironically, this self-criticism only perpetuates the self’s isolation and alienation from the outside world.  This dynamic also demonstrates the fractured and conflicted nature of the shame-based mind.  The shame-based mind hates itself for being flawed.  It also hates the outside world for shaming it.  At the same time it wishes to be accepted and loved by the outside world even though it feels unjustly persecuted by the outside world.

This isolation and self-criticism feels bad both mentally and physically.  It can manifest itself in anxiety, depression, irritation, a lack of energy and a general dissatisfaction with life.  In the moment this feeling can only be tolerated for so long before the self (the ego and the limbic system) seeks to shelter itself.  This is where addictions fit in.  Drugs, alcohol, skin picking, pornography, masturbation and internet trolling all act to distract the self from the psychological pain caused by shame and self-criticism.  This distraction is a short-term fix but while the fix is working it works well.  Soon after, however, the criticizer reemerges and now has something new with which to criticize the self.  This time the criticism is shame for giving into addiction.  And so the cycle continues.  The shame builds up until it is intolerable and the mind seeks its addictions to quell the shame and so on.

Because the internet troll is shame-based, he takes particular delight in shaming other people.  This is his revenge against the world that has unjustly persecuted him.  He criticizes other people for their religion, their politics or personal habits.  At least in part, the troll sees himself as being in the right because to a shame-based person civilization is upheld through shame because in his way of thinking, shame is the only thing that will cause a bad person to act lawfully and appropriately.  When a troll lobs an effective zing that shames another person there is a moment of exhilaration.  This is the payoff but this is typically followed by shame for being a troll and not being able to control his behavior (giving in to addiction).  Often other people on the message board or comment section gang up on the troll.  This exacerbates the troll’s feeling of shame.  At this point the troll will swear off trolling in his mind but eventually the urge to troll will reemerge and the addictive cycle repeats itself.  It is important to note that the troll will often talk as if his point of view is very well thought out and he is crusading for the truth or some such.  In fact, the motivation to troll is only the addictive, short-term rush he gets from shaming another person.  The troll’s personal beliefs are ultimately secondary.

 

Read my ebook Shame and Internet Trolling. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks.

1 Comment

Filed under Shame, Trolling

Two Feelings I Don’t Want To Feel: Missing Out and Humiliation

There are two feelings I don’t want to feel, the feeling of missing out and the feeling of humiliation.  I have come to understand that both of these feelings are two sides to the same coin which is shame.  The explanation is a bit circular.  Humiliation is a terrible mental and physical feeling.  It is the feeling of being judged negatively by others and agreeing with them.  It is the feeling of knowing I have no worth and do not deserve respect.  Further, it is the feeling that I deserve to be disrespected because I have no worth.  Because I fear feeling humiliation I am reluctant to try new things, take risks and otherwise “put myself out there.”  So I make safe choices and stay within my comfort zone.  But within this comfort zone I feel like I am missing out.  So I stay within my comfort zone until it becomes stifling and intolerable.  At that point I reach out for any sort of change.  Because the change is new and different and not very well thought out I often fail and when I do I feel humiliated.  When I am humiliated I seek safety which then repeats the cycle.  This cycle is shame.

Generally, shame is the painful feeling that I am not worthy of respect.  This is not merely a mental conclusion but also a physical, bodily sensation.  There are two typical ways I deal with shame: hiding my shame from others and distracting myself from my own shame.   I hide it from others by pretending or acting to be something other than myself.  Implicit in this action is the belief that I am contemptible and if others knew the truth about me they would reject and abandon me.  I distract myself from shame through addiction.  I drink alcohol, I have taken drugs, I bite my fingernails, I masturbate to pornography, I gossip, and I try to make other people feel shame.  All these distractions are a very short-term fix that produces an immediate form of pleasure.  This is the nature of addiction.  The desire for distraction comes from the primitive brain called the limbic system.  The aim of the limbic system is survival via the avoidance of pain and the seeking of pleasure.  This aim creates the addictive desire.  Unfortunately, the modern brain called the prefrontal cortex, kicks in once the limbic system is satiated and goes to sleep.  The prefrontal cortex then makes me feel shame for giving in to my addiction.  The prefrontal cortex, whose aim is to plan for the future and preserve the society that protects me, knows that a society of addicts is no society and will fall apart.  My prefrontal cortex tells me that by giving into addiction I am responsible for the impending downfall of civilization.  I believe this and then I feel ashamed and unworthy of respect.  This feeling is painful and will eventually wake up my limbic system who will then recreate the addictive desire to distract myself from them.

This describes the cycle.  I do not want to feel humiliated so I seek safety.  I then feel stifled and reach out of my comfort zone.  When I do this I feel humiliated.  This cycle of shame is painful.  I hide it from others and I distract myself from it through various addictions.  The solution is difficult but achievable.  It starts with becoming aware of the process and that is the aim of this blogpost.

Leave a comment

Filed under Shame