Alison's Insights

Accepting Mid-Life Addiction Recovery One Slow Deep Breath At A Time

Selfishly Creating A Following

My husband and I are mesmerized by a new TV show called, “The Following” which stars Kevin Bacon. The dark storyline is so well written, we’re literally at the edge of our seat through the entire show.

Every Monday night we set the DVR at 8pm so we can watch the program uninterrupted. Although I spent decades in the advertising business and have a profound respect for what goes into a television commercial, for a show like “The Following”, commercial breaks must be avoided.

The story focuses on a good-looking, well-spoken, well-educated, mentally manipulative serial killer. As each episode unfolds, we see how he has come to collect a “following” of other heinous murdering men and women. They all appear to be everyday people, leading everyday lives. Problem is, their addiction is to take lives. They get their fix with each killing.

I believe I now know why I’ve become so fascinated with the program. I’m captivated by this man’s ability to maintain a perverse hold on the minds of others because in truth, I worked hard to perfect that art myself. To be clear, I most certainly wasn’t on a killing spree and don’t even remotely understand the underling elements of a serial killer, cult leader, I did indeed orchestrate a “following” of my own.

For years before getting the help I needed to overcome addiction, I would seek out other like-minded people, surrounding myself with others who drank like I did or ate like I didn’t.

For example, when I was managing a large group of people, often as the lunch hour approached I knew just the right words to use with the right staff members to join me for the mid-day break. As the boss I’d pull a group together with a plan to have a “working lunch” which was the well-known code for “we won’t be coming back to the office because we’re going to have drinks.” Once at the restaurant I’d deflect attention from my lack eating by talking a lot and assuring more drinks were ordered than food for me. Looking back fun was had by all including me but the truth is, I used my scheming ways to take those people hostage to fuel my addiction needs.

The more I watch “The Following”, the more I bear witness to how a human being can make the most horrific behavior seem rational. How a quick glance, a soft sexy smile or the wink if an eye at just the right moment can provide a powerful return on investment.

I shudder while watching this extremely provocative show, never knowing what the killer’s next move will be or how those held captive will find their way out. Which is just like how I never knew what my next move would need to be but if I stayed just drunk enough to not feel hungry, I figured I had nothing to worry about.

As I write this I’m realizing why very subtle instances like this TV show are opportunities for me to be reminded of the woman I once was. Perhaps the shudderI feel has more to do with gratitude for releasing the mental grip I held on others and finding a way to break free from myself.

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One thought on “Selfishly Creating A Following

  1. That’s so true! I have done it too – training others to see me as helpless when I didn’t want to be held accountable for my actions, when I didn’t want to be held to my greatness! We train people how to treat us, whether we want to be seen as powerful or a victim. That reminder is crucial to ensure us to be mindful on how we are training those around us.

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