30 Days of Jung — Day 10: #Addiction #Morality #Psychology #Irony


Day 10! I’ve made it 10 days! I’m a third underway! This is great! Today’s quote is like yesterday’s: simply good.

Welcome to Day 10 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
C.G. Jung

Oy. Let’s get on this. End the count at 1,160.

Hello, my name is Molly and I’m an awarenessaholic with a specialization in tongue-biting and nag-suppression.

I try to be good about it. I don’t talk much about the lapses I see when other people become totally unaware: when they yell at traffic, yell at their kids, comment about how someone is dressed, or groan about something and then take a swig. I just take notes and learn. I’m no better; I groan about something and stomp around, grouse or hole up in my office and write about Jung. Sometimes I hop on the rowing machine or beat up our heavy bag. Usually, I try to just chill out though, let the moment pass.

Sometimes, I do get involved if it’s over the top as in the time I saw a woman rage on and physically abuse her three-year-old daughter for showing off her own belly button at the take-out line in a Red Robin restaurant. The little girl was clearly in pain and the mother was unconcerned. It felt like it was a habit. People in the room were visibly disturbed.

I was totally aware of what I was doing, in fact I was aware of the surge of adrenaline coursing through my body and amping up my larger muscles when I calmly approached her and said,

“Hey. Look at my face. Are you looking at me? Can you hear me? I’m a mom too. Please stop freaking on your kid, it’s just a belly button. If you do it again, I’ll do it to you and we’ll have ourselves a problem.”

Her response: “I’m a nurse, I know what I’m doing. I’m not hurting her.”

My response: “You’re a nurse? That’s supposed to impress me? Remind me to never need your medical expertise. Lighten your tone with your daughter and loosen your grip on her blanched forearm. Now.” She did what she was told and then she sneered at me. The toddler rubber her arm, looked at me and hugged her mother’s thigh.

After they left, a muslim woman came up to me later and told me she would pray for me because she wished I was there for her when she was that young girl and her mother slapped her across the face and into the next room. She showed me the scar on her cheek from the ring that cut her. I tensely smiled and nodded almost imperceptibly; I was was ready to rumble quite honestly, but I appreciated her prayers.

I used to be held that way by my mother. It hurt then and I can remember it now. My dear husband tried to stop me from walking into a parking lot one time by bracing my forearm and I almost flipped him. That’s when I realized: I better start paying attention to what I’m feeling. Then that’s when the awareness bus came and took me away to AwarenessLand, a fun-filled carnival experience for all people who would like to know better.

So thinking about that Red Robin incident: was I unaware when I decided to approach? Even my husband was going to say something, but he saw the cut of my jaw and the blaze in my eyes and knew I was going to say something after the third time the mother slapped the child on the top of her blonde head. For my husband, it was a matter of preventing a cat fight.

So I try not to be the morality police; I try to let people make their own mistakes and not do unto others as I would have them do unto me, but … it’s hard. I don’t have all the answers, all I have is my experience and my perspective and I hope my wits. I’ve been on a therapeutic journey of late to better sync my emotional side with my intellectual side.

For years I thought everything, I did’t feel it. I rationalized and intellectualized so-called grievances and offenses and branded them as reasonable or not. That perspective gave me a quick albeit insufficient solution to what I perceived as major problems and once the problem was “solved” I filed it away.

The game changer for me came up when I was stuck: when I could not make my emotions agree with my thoughts. This happened about a year ago and the process to rewiring my emotional assessments with my logical appreciations has been exhausting but I’m seeing the payoff now. I’m not so stuck anymore and I can make assessments faster and act on them rather than wonder if what I was doing was “right” or “morally correct.”

When it comes to behavior and synthesis, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The one the works is the one which brings you clarity or peace.

So my “result” has been “morality” in the vein of “mindfulness” and “self-awareness.” Yes, I treat it like an Olympic sport sometimes, and I know it drives some people nuts. They ask me, “Why do you have to think so much about these things? Why can’t you just let this go?” but to me, I need a deeper appreciation. And it’s not so bad that to process it all, and I’ll tell you: I know when people are into it or they aren’t, but I have yet to find someone who isn’t interested in a conversation about being a better person. Sometimes I let it go… it will come back in another form (it always does) and maybe I’ll try it again.

I’ve known addicts of many stripes. They are all the same: they lie, they barter, they hide and cheat and steal to get a fix. I am a recovering addict of chaos. It sounds funny, but it’s true. I would create problems in order to solve them or have relationships with certain people (as a commenter said, “you can smell your own”) in order to stir up crap in my life so that I could be unhappy or troublesome and then complain about it or blame it on other things: I’m tired, I drank too much last night, she cut me off, he didn’t thank me…

I HAD NO CLUE. I have since cleared my life of all those people from my past when I was unconscious (what term “unhealthy”) and if there are still hangers-on, I have developed tools to help me deal because many people, even if they’re chaotic, have wonderful qualities too.

Have I made it my life’s mission to educate people on awareness? I can’t lie. I try whenever I can with my boys and whenever it’s welcome with others. But sometimes, it’s not welcome, and that’s when I’ve joined the “tongue-biters” club.

Thank you.

21 responses »

  1. Here’s what I think: You have a delightful writing style and are doing a brilliant job of making Jungian theory accessible to lay persons! Well done. Looking forward to Day 11. Jeanie

  2. I was so looking forward to today’s installment 🙂 I am a little (OR A LOT) bit of an awareness addict. My struggle is keeping that within my personal space. Some people just want to muddle blindly through life, and that is there choice regardless of my feelings about it. And this, if I allow it to teach rather than tax me, will only enhance my own awareness. So, I will aspire to join you in the “tongue-biters club.” Thanks, Molly!!

  3. I had a Red Robin moment not that long ago. A mom was freaking out in the dressing room next to me, yelling and berating her kids for basically nothing. I knew that if she talked to them like that in public, I could only imagine what it was like at home. But I had my daughter with me and I knew if I said something and didn’t like her response, I might really lose it. And that would not have been good for anyone. I started to think about what the result of this abuse might look like in the future and started to cry. I hugged my daughter and told her how much I loved her. And I prayed for those little girls.

  4. Day 10! How is time going by this fast?

    I read once that art was all about creating problems. Maybe our writing and art-making is the sublimation of our desire for chaos? Maybe we have turned our unhealthy/unacceptable impulse into something more socially acceptable. We can create chaos and problems and solve them without harming ourselves (hopefully, although some of this stuff is pretty emotionally hard, isn’t it?) or others.

    This series is helping me connect some dots, Molly. Thank you for that.

  5. Brava! You did what so many of us wish we had the strength or courage to do……I hope that if I ever have the misfortune to witness something like this that I can summon some Molly moxie! Thank you for taking this series on……many of us will benefit from Jung’s and YOUR words…..


    • Thanks, AC. I was in a mood when I saw all that happening and I was fresh off the tennis court in a tank top, court skort, etc., so I was looking pretty intimidating physically and she was in soft shape and so I am thinking that my physical presence and emotional intensity at the moment played a role.

      As I think back on it now, I could have been softer and perhaps more diplomatic but who knows how that would’ve gone down.

      What impresses me now, 6 years later, is the courage of the Muslim woman who showed me her scar. Who knows how I appeared to her, I suspect not brutish but … ? Y’know?

      I thought for a few weeks about that event. I wonder how they are all doing now ….


  6. I so definitely identify with this post on so many levels. I have addictions. I haven’t conquered them, but I’m aware of the influence that they have over me (although I did conquer caffeine almost 5 years ago, so go me!). I too, was one of those who created chaos in relationships. Especially in my teens and early 20’s, u can specifically remember choosing romantic partners that I knew would treat me like crap. So I could cry and be the victim. It wasn’t until I realized that I was doing this because of victimization’s toll on me that made it a comfortable role for me to be in. Oddly and paradoxically, being the victim was where I felt safe because it was familiar territory. But then going back to accountability, you only have yourself to blame when life and love is crap because you CHOSE crap. It doesn’t matter why you chose it, much like an addiction doesn’t matter what form it takes. Addiction is addiction and choices are choices. Anyone who says otherwise is falling on excuses in order to further their own agenda of not being culpable for their life. And I think everyone knows of an instance where there has been an addiction to something “healthy” that when the addiction is introduced, creates an unhealthy atmosphere. Awareness is the only tool that can prevent it.

    You’re on a role! You are inspiring me to take on a writing challenge of my own. And quotes are such a great launch pad. Loving your stuff!!

  7. Unfortunately everybody has their triggers. Probably this poor woman was slapped around when she was younger and is continuing the pattern. Sometimes the best approach is not to scold which can make things worse but say something like “Lady you must be having a rough day. I’m uncomfortable with the way you’re treating this kid. Could we talk for a little while?” Maybe this sounds kinda wimpy but being sarcastic can just make things worse. Not being a parent myself, but having worked with plenty of them. It’s usually not a good idea to get in somebody’s face unless you can do it firmly and calmly. Good cops know this.

  8. I love that you said something to that woman. I also love your awareness and how it translates into your writing. My mother-in-law is an addict of chaos. Could you please share with me your 12-step recovery program so I can pass it along? Great post.

  9. Jung is one of my favorites… and he has a connection to my most favorite, life saving book….

    I was just a couple months shy of my 18th birthday, my first year of college; I witnessed, I mean watched this man being abusive towards his young child –I wasn’t the only one who stood there doing nothing. I will always, aways regret standing with those people doing nothing for a child who had no voice.

    So, reading your words, through my filter, I kept thinking, I do not subscribe to the ‘mind your own business’ way of thinking, I subscribe to mind your business… and if you are not minding your business, and then as a result it pollutes my space, I’m more than likely going to say something –of course, now, Jung quotation, ack, I am off to chew on them words… “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” ― C.G. Jung –I need a bag to punch. 😉 Great post.

Whatcha Think, Smahtypants?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s