“Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk – these are just a couple of my cravings.”
– Rufus Wainwright
Battling one’s demons is one thing, but what are you supposed to do when they’re gone and you’re still fighting?
Lately, I’ve been trying to retrain my brain away from some nasty habits I’ve acquired over the course of my 29 years of existence. I was introduced to the idea many years ago, when one of my friends, upon getting braces, used a repetitive mantra to convince herself that she, in fact, did not even LIKE gum. Now, I’m not doing anything that extreme (after all, why deprive oneself of minty refreshment?), but I have had some success with the technique. Which has, in turn, unleashed a newer, weirder problem.
You see, when I’m just tooling along, living my life, and suddenly realize that I am NOT craving the things that I once did, it strikes a faint but palpable fear into me, driving me to the behaviors I seek to avoid. “Wow – I don’t even want a cigarette right now” leads me to light up within five minutes.
It’s totally creepy.
During a discussion today, another friend brought up a recent news item regarding the phantom pains that amputees often experience from their missing body part. Which led me to realize that this is what these are: Phantom Pains-in-my-ass, that is. Though, sadly, I’m not missing any of THAT particular body part.
The new theraputic treatment for these amputees involves the use of mirrors. Apparently, the brain has problems learning new channels – it gets confused when sending neurons to the missing limb which are not received, which then causes it to panic and tell the sufferer, through these ghosts of pain, that something is wrong. Something is missing.
The amputees use mirrors to reflect the present limb; by “seeing” the limb in it’s rightful place, even though it’s trickery, the brain calms down and starts to relearn the ways that it communicated with the body.
So, that’s my next task. To show myself that these new patterns ARE, in fact, normal. They’re just a new normal.
How to do that? Well, I’m not quite sure. Repitition, perhaps? A modified mantra? Partial lobotomy? Who knows. But I guess I’ll just keep plugging away.
I mean, “giving up the ghost(s)” must be easier than battling one’s demons, right?