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Tango: addiction or obsession?

January 16, 2011

They say Tango attracts the commitment phobic. Those who haven’t quite made it up the aisle or down the registry office. Those who prefer their relationships short and sweet, moving on swiftly to something and someone new.. Dancing provides an opportunity to experience someone’ intimate energy in close proximity, to get to know their bodies, how they move, twist and turn. But there it ends, on the dance floor and  you find a new partner, someone different, with a whole different set of quirks and idiosyncracies.. Maybe you can dance better or worse with them, but its just different and thats the thrill and the excitement.

At the Milonga you dont’ have to do so much talking, bonding and making relationships, although of course that does happen. But you can come, watch the dancers and just dance. You don’t even have to make conversation inbetween. I like that sometimes just holding the embrace between songs and then resuming, sometimes we chat too much and surely a silence sometimes is preferable to idle chit chat… to misquote Pulp Fiction, you know when you’ve found someone really special, when you can just share comfortable silence with them..

Sometimes the music does all the talking and the brief pauses are there to just savour the moment between…

For me, also trying to face my comittment issues, I find that the tango gives me a chance to make and keep a promise. For you, for this song, in this monent I am yours, fully and totally. I give myself to the man, the music and I am totally committed to making the dance work.

I’ve also been thinking about whether or not Tango actually qualifies as an ‘addiction’  or is it more of an obsession? This excerpt from  Dopamine Dialogue has some interesting things to say about it…

Euphoric Recall (also called “war stories” or ”staying in the high”)

Oftentimes, people with addiction disorders report having vivid memories of their first using experiences, sometimes dating back to very young ages. For example: ”When I was little, my mother gave me whiskey with honey and lemon to help my cough and I remember REALLY liking it and wanting more.” People with addiction disorders are also known to tell what are called ”war stories” in which they reminisce about getting high – they relive the moment through talking about it in detail. This is called “euphoric recall” —  in other words they are recalling the euphoric experience. When a person with an addiction disorder talks in detail about using experiences, their brain actually releases a little bit of dopamine in preparation for the use, like salivating. This then leads to a craving or a stronger urge to use the substance and the person is more likely to go to greater efforts to ensure that they do indeed use. This is how the DRIVE of addiction is formed. The brain becomes trained with the first intense flood of dopamine and is driven to repeat the experience again and again because the brain associates the use of the substance with reward and survival.  It is no wonder that relapse rates amongst people with the disease of addiction are estimated to be at the very high level of about 80% – or 8 out of 10.

After this drive has kicked in, the only way to stop it (prevent relapse) is to 1. Abstain from using or engaging in the pleasurable experience (which is difficult because there is this pull back to doing it) 2. Allow time to pass for the brain to heal from this flood of chemicals (most studies report that the brain jump-starts the healing process at 90-days without use) 3. Learn how this disease works and get really good at recognizing when these types of situations are coming on.

Obsession, addiction or… What do you think?


Good Times?

January 15, 2011
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I don’t want to sound like it’s all bad living with MB.. Far from it, he is great fun. For starters, we laugh together all the time and despite his more unsavoury habits like constantly nipping out the back for a cig and being glued to FB, he’s immensely good company. The kind of person you want to have around because he’s interesting.  He has interesting things to say about most things and is interested in things that most people aren’t.

He loves to talk to people and find out things about them and I guess, because he’s reluctant to talk about his ‘past’ or perhaps wants to keep certain things about himself under wraps, he prefers to center the conversation around the person he’s talking to. This is an immensely attractive characteristic, and it wins him fans. I see this when we are in company,  he’s a charming, witty raconteur and people like to be around him. I don’t need to worry about him being out of his depth or uncomfortable, he can schmooze with the best of them.

As for us, we are good together.  We ‘fit’ they say.   You know when you just like being in a person’s company? like looking at them and listening to the sound of their voice?  well, that’s me and MB.  I could listen to him read off a cereal box because he’s so animated and engaging and funny when he talks. He gestures with his hands, his voice gets louder and his big bambi eyes get even bigger, particularly when he’s excited about what he’s talking about, which is often. I love this about him, that he gets excited and finds things to be inspired by.

The downside of course is that these burst of activity are punctuated by snoozy, methadone-y sleeping.. He needs lots of sleep… I’m getting used to seeing those eyes slide closed and his voice starting to drawl a little. Instead of getting annoyed by it, I now find it rather cute.

As well as being funny, talented etc and a mine of useless information, he’s also a great editor and, just recently, has been helping me to get my PhD finally done and dusted. The last week has been me and him sat hunched over the kitchen table together discussing the finer uses of the apostrophe and the correct way to insert a gerund. He’s been in his element –  bossing me about correcting this and that,  but immensely pleased I think, that I’ve written this stupid thesis. He wants me to be a Dr.

The last few days have been sublime, and its in moments like these I forget all the other stuff, the drugs, the past, all the thousand worries that dance through my head like the fastest milonga…


Speaking of which, Tango has been on MB’s back burner, again, but we have had the occasional practica in the kitchen. MB being of short attention span gets bored after five minutes,  and so we go back to sitting companiably at our respective computers occasionally posting insults on eachother’s Facebook pages.

Yes, of course I wish he’d get out there and get a job and be like any other ‘normal’ guy who wasn’t dealing with  opiate addiction. But then, I’d miss him…and his MB ways…

The Elephant in the Room

January 15, 2011

The Elephant in my room is huge. He wears a mask made of jet black beads that hang over his big bambi eyes, and that makes a soft clacking noise as he swings his trunk so even when I have my eyes shut, I can hear him. This elephant is called addiction and he follows me around from my bedroom to my living room. I pretend I can’t see or hear his groans as he sniffs out anything he can use, nicotine, sugar, alcohol. Anything to pacify the monkey that sits on the elephant’s shoulder…

So it is. I pretend or rather WE pretend, me and MB that some of the scratchy bits in our relationship are our ‘differences’ or that I want this and he wants that. And, it might be true, we are different and sometimes that is a problem. BUT, I can’t ignore the elephant.  Will he ever leave?

I don’t think so. MB doesn’t want him to, and sometimes, when he thinks I’m not looking I see him feeding the elephant, soothing him and giving him what he wants. He’s not going anytime soon, not when he is being so well looked after. Guess I’d better get used to it.

Different Worlds

January 15, 2011

Struggling today. I hate that my boyfriend loves drugs more than me. There, I’ve said it. I’m jealous of his addiction, jealous of what he will do for it, versus what he will do for me.  I think he loves me a lot, but just not as much as he loves/loved getting high.

Mousetraps, memory and muchness

January 15, 2011

MB and I have been wrapped in the warmest of Christmas embraces. Having little money forced us to hibernate, away from the world of enforced jollity, Christmas parties and so forth. (Oh ok, we have NO FRIENDS, and no one invited us anyway…)

So, we hunkered down, with just DVD’s, the warmth of real fires, simple food and lots of chocolate for company over the last few days. And cocooned together in a kind of twilight world of eating, making love, watching endless episodes of Six Feet Under, we’ve got comfortable.

MB has also become increasingly interested in Tango how-to-videos, on YouTube see here and has been carefully studying the Forward Ocho, The Cross and walking in Paralell and Cross Systems.. Being obsessive compulsive clearly has it’s advantages for MB, when he gets into something, he really gets into it. And so it must have been for him with his drug of choice too, although something about the sonambulent nature of heroin gives me the impression that you can’t get too worked up about anything, whilst under the influence.

That’s the difference between me and MB. Energy. I’m amazed by how sleepy he is, I know it’s probably the meds, but he could happily doze until 11am, get up a few hours, potter around and go right back to bed mid-afternoon for a sleepy nap. He’ s like a very cute Dormouse. The Dormouse in fact.

You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’

(Carroll, L, 1865)

The Dormouse had a lot to say about treacle I seem to remember. Right now, I’m struggling, to find a way forward with my life, which seems stuck in a treacle well. Like the three girls that lived in Carroll’s fictional sticky hole, I feel stuck. I can’t climb out, and keep getting drowsily and comfortably stuck further.

It’s as if MB’s meds are rubbing off on me, I feel so warm, happy and comfortable when we are together, as if nothing matters and we can stay, cocooned, stuffed in a giant teapot together…

First Steps

January 15, 2011
First Steps…

MB had his first private tango lesson today and was able, for the first time I think, to understand and experience some of the joy of tango. The walking and connecting part can be the hardest for leaders, but he already has the tools to do that and, more than he realises, is a natural Tanguero He is so gifted, this is the sad thing for me, his gifts have largely gone unrealised. He can sing, play guitar, write, draw and paint. Yet, most of his adult life has been dedicated to taking drugs, so naturally he hasn’t been able to express himself fully.

In the lesson I could see he was nervous, and found it hard to stay present and focussed, essential in the moment, in the Tango.. But slowly M, the teacher, found a way to engage him and I could see by the end, that he was loving it and flowing… He was so enthusiastic when we got home, and wanted to practice and practice. Of course it made my heart swell and I felt so happy. Happy that he had tasted even a tiny bit of what I consider to be the most addictive, and pleasurable of past-times. I think he’s going to be a great leader. He has ‘potential’

So today and yesterday were good days, in which we took tentative steps toward one another again, after another shaky row,  but, as always, I am never quite sure. MB’s ‘xmas’ doses were picked up today, enough to last until Weds next week.  He’s dosed on 30mls instead of his normal 20, I guess he knows what he is doing. He is fine. Maybe a bit sleepy, but affectionate and happy.. Absorbed in his internet stuff…

The relationship stuff is very similar to Tango, negotation of space, the leader inviting, the follower accepting. Dancing in close embrace or open? When to end the dance, or to just to keep going.

Intimacy and, forces repelling. This is the Tango.

Intimacy and Tango

January 15, 2011