Walk Around
Walk Around
27 - Thank You For Listening

27 - Thank You For Listening

About ants, addiction, withdrawal, and recovery
Me and my shadow

This podcast covers the issue of addiction.

If you are in need of help, call the national hotline, 988.

Transcript (may contain errors)

There's a bell that I've taken around with me wherever I've lived

I can't remember where I got it, maybe in Portland at the Japanese Garden

And I've often hung it up outside and the sound has become familiar, even as all the places I've lived have changed for so long

And that familiar feeling just hit me as I rode up this little hill through an orchard towards the cabin that I'm living in these days

I never really realized I'd developed a familiarity with it until that moment

Now I'm standing out kind of more towards the field behind the cabin looking at a willow that's flowering and the first bumblebees I've seen this year are collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers

That's pretty hopeful

Back in the forest behind the edge of the woods there's a giant ant nest, the biggest I've ever seen actually

It's probably home to hundreds of thousands of ants

It's probably four or five feet wide, a couple feet tall

It's been there who knows how long

Old growth ant nest, ant pile

I'm going to see if these flowers smell like anything

I can't smell anything on the willows, but they're really beautiful, covered with little reddish stamens and fuzzy, like a little squirrel tail

I haven't recorded anything for a while because I've been going through some stuff that was pretty hard to talk about, I guess you could say, and I didn't feel like it was really ready and I also just didn't have any words, and so I've just kind of remained silent on this front

Sometimes I feel like what I share on this podcast is a little self-centered, especially over the last couple years when it seems like I've been in a perpetual state of difficulty

It's like the content I create for people to listen to is just me essentially ruminating about how things are going from time to time, I think at my worst

That doesn't seem like something anyone would really want to listen to

So I'm careful with how I share those things, and so this recent one has been probably the worst one

I've had a series of realizations over the last couple of weeks, couple months, about addiction and an addiction that I have and am currently trying to overcome, and it's a habit, not a substance

I've told pretty much everybody I know about it at this point in person, so if you know me you'll probably know what I'm talking about, but this whole process has brought up some really important realizations for me, not just about myself, but about the natures of addiction, the nature of addiction in general, and where they come from, what an addict is, and of course the experience of going through withdrawal from an addiction, which I've never had withdrawal, I've never gone through that, which has been one of the most intense experiences of my entire life, actually

It made me realize that people who take on an addiction without knowing, like I did, being high-functioning and completely normal to the outside world, nothing necessarily even felt like I was hiding, nothing anyone else would have ever known about, can, those people, when they decide to stop, are kind of, it's a heroic act, honestly, because the addiction could just kind of continue, and maybe there wouldn't even be that much harm, it's hard to say, and it'd be very comfortable to continue, but in the end, it's important and necessary that it ends for someone like me, and that comes with some physiological symptoms, psychological, mental symptoms, and a long process of discovery and understanding about oneself that seems like it wouldn't necessarily take place, particularly after all the self-discovery I feel like I've done

Part of my musings on addiction have resulted in me realizing that addictions come from a lack, they come from a hole that someone's trying to fill with something else, and they also come from stress and someone trying to regulate themselves with something outside of them so that they don't suffer so much, and that's where the dependency begins

As for me, the path was sort of like a decades-long process of not finding the right intimacy in the world, maybe not being aware of some very low-level self-denial that was occurring that didn't allow me to seek out that kind of experience, not knowing I needed it, self-deceiving on a very deep level that I wasn't aware of, hoping things would get better, ignoring that they weren't good, etc., all those things

I think it's been maybe a 15-or-so-long year process of that kind of patterning, so to just stop, obviously it's like a glacier that's just being ground to a halt, 15 years is almost half my life, 20 years is over half my life, so the psychological, mental, physical withdrawal symptoms that occur are pretty extreme, even though it was just a behavior rather than a substance

I imagine a substance would be even more intense

When I was sitting by the ant pile earlier, I was looking at it and I thought, what are they doing this for? Just piling sticks on top of sticks forever? And then I thought, someone could look at this and think, this is how human beings are, we just pile stuff on top of stuff

In fact, it's a model of efficiency, an entrepreneurial enterprise, to look at these ants and see how well-coordinated their actions are, how efficient they are, how much they can build with so little, and it can be inspiring towards a capitalistic, entrepreneurial method

But the ants actually aren't the whole story, because they live in a forest

So if you take one little fascicle out of the forest and say, oh, this is nature, this is how things are made and built, this is efficiency, this is production, start assigning ideas and words and values to what an ant does and how it lives

To focus on the single ant mound is to miss the entire reality of what they're actually doing

They aren't obsessed with efficiency

They aren't building something endlessly

They're in service to everything around them, and the ants are being served by everything around them

Once in a while, maybe a bear comes by and digs up the entire mound, and all that accumulated nutrition from hundreds of yards in every direction, thousands of yards, is then swallowed by one creature who then goes on

So it's not about the ant hill

It's about that the ant hill is in the forest

I think maybe this is an important lesson, because the culture that I grew up in seems to be obsessed with the individual rather than the connections we have

Another thing that's hard about this withdrawal process, just to take a break for a second, is that my emotions are pretty dysregulated, so I'm kind of coming close to tears here and there

But this is just real

This is how this shit goes, so I'm not going to edit it out, and I'm sorry if it's melodramatic, but that's just what this is.

So the process of connection doesn't involve an individual

It involves a series of relationships connecting to an individual, but then in some way the individual sort of disappears because they become their relationships more so than just themselves

And I guess I would like to say that I think one of the main reasons why addiction occurs in our society is because there is an understanding of human beings as machines rather than as interconnected members of a forest, so to speak, of our humanity

And I just think that there's an immense amount of harm that comes from that

I think I've been privy to that harm for most of my life, and maybe that's what started me on the path of addiction

In fact, I'm almost certain it did create some kind of dark space that went undernourished inside of me for a very long time

We live in a world where people have learned to protect themselves because it's actually necessary

It's necessary to have protection, but it's become extreme in some cases, where if someone isn't part of a fold already, they'll just be rejected

I experienced that for years until I started looking the right way and being handsome and good with my words

Got Riz, you know, that kind of shit

But there's people who aren't so lucky, and they never find their people, and they suffer alone

And they get addicted, and then the addicts become their friends, because those people were also rejected

In other words, the addicts and addiction is all of our responsibility

And addiction is all of our responsibility

They're simply the people who are bearing all the pain that some of us are lucky to escape

There's a lot of times I could think where if I didn't have a safety net in my life, maybe I would have fallen into a darker place

And so for those who don't, they do

And then there are those who aren't addicted in a dysfunctional way, which seems like most people

It seems like there's a war that has been going on for a long time, and there's a war that has been going on for a long time

It seems like there's a war that has been going on for a while on our well-being as humans

And it's a, I would say, an accidental war that's been caused by us seeing a human being as part of an efficiency mechanism

And it's just caused all kinds of harm

I think one of the worst parts about withdrawal for me has been not being able to sleep at night

I've been getting an average of three to four, three to six hours of sleep for about a month and a half

And I've been navigating, understanding why it continues

And I've had to curtail relationships because I realized they were nurturing this kind of withdrawal addiction feedback loop

Because there was a trigger involved

And it's all quite sad

It's really kind of ruining my life at the moment

But I guess it's just the accumulated karma or whatever of my actions over the last few years, decades, whatever it's been, of denying my own needs, not paying attention to what I was doing to cope

I've always thought I've taken really good care of myself, but I think I have

And I think there's many facets to self-care

And it's a continuum

It's not a recipe

It's always needing to be adjusted and assessed

If I have any message for this podcast, if you got this far, thanks for listening

If I have any message, it would be to put aside your pride and your beliefs about other people and just listen to them

Even if it makes you uncomfortable, ask them a question that's genuine about how they're doing and make space and time to listen

Maybe there's a sibling that you haven't talked to in a while

Maybe you need to check in with yourself

Maybe you need to take a couple days to just do nothing

Maybe there's a friend that you haven't seen in a while and they kind of fell off and you wonder what they're doing

You could call them

Maybe you need to talk to your parents

Maybe you need to talk to your grandparents

There's so many excuses and so many reasons and so many defenses why not to have genuine conversations with people

And it makes me angry that because of people's fear, they don't occur

If a relationship isn't nourishing, then what could you lose by trying to talk about why it's not nourishing to you? Is it going to be even less? A friend of mine just told me recently that a way you can have a conversation like that is to come to the table with someone and say, this is something that's alive with inside of me

This is living inside of me

This is how I feel

So there's no blame

There's no attacking and therefore hopefully no defensiveness

And that's how you can start a conversation

You can say this is living inside of me

This is something that I've been feeling

What do you think? And I think those are really great and important words

So thanks for those

It's strange to be in one of my favorite times of the year when everything is bursting forth with life and birds are singing and woodpeckers are hammering and the ants are moving and insects are excited in the Chinese seasonal node now

It's called the excited insects

If you look in the air in the evenings against the setting sun, you can see insects flying

Sometimes spiders floating on webs that they've put out to balloon along the different locations

Just so much life

And it's just all happening without any intervention at all

Just coming forth

So it's so strange to be in this state of sleeplessness and nightmares and anxiety and crying and mood swings and

Pain in this time of year when life is just so resurgent and so beautiful

It's a very confusing time for me

One of my favorite things to do this season is to do a dove call

You can maybe hear them way in the background

And more often than not, they come over

They kind of look around, stare at me when I'm calling

They're like, where's the dove? Where's the dove? It's pretty funny

They're chill birds

I don't think I'm inhibiting them or hurting them in any way by calling them over and seeing their antics for a little while

They generally just hang out and eat seeds and stuff

I guess that's all I have to say about that

This is probably

Well, I hope this has been a helpful episode

I'm not going to self deprecate

I can't handle that right now

I need to stop doing that anyway

Yeah, well, if any of the people listening ever need to talk or have someone listen, I'm trying to become a doctor eventually, so I guess I should offer that

If you want to write an email or something, I'd be glad to hear what you're struggling with

God only knows I have my own

And I think we all do.

Take care and thank you for listening.

Walk Around
Walk Around
We Are All A Part. Writing and recordings about nature, existence, and wildness—at three miles per hour.
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Hudson Gardner