Several times in my life, I have thanked God that I do not have an ‘addictive personality.’ Witnessing what that’s like up close and personal, I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t me. No drug addiction. No alcohol addiction. No gambling addiction. No sex addiction. Phew!
Victor Boc, author of Solve All Your Money Problems Forever, defines addiction as emotion based demands. On closer examination, using Boc’s definition, there were / are ‘little’ addictions cluttering up my life. I call them little because it makes me feel better, but clearly if they were actually little I wouldn’t be dependent on them. These ‘little’ critters are the sneaky kind. The kind that are easy to ignore because society won’t recriminate me for them or because they seem so benign or because they are so ingrained in my psyche they seem normal.
Let’s start with the smaller ones. For some folks, if you put a bottle of alcohol in front of them, they have to finish it down to the last drop. For me, it was no potatoe chip left behind. Whether single size, family size, whatever size, there was no giving up til the bag was done. When a craving hit, I had to have my salty crunchy fix asap. A nutritionist advised me to stop eating potatoes because my body doesn’t respond well to foods in the night shade family. So I’ve swapped out potatoe chips for rice chips. Same story.
Another one that surprised me was my addiction to sugar. Yes, many of my addictions are around food. The same nutritionist suggested I completely cut out sugar from my diet and use only stevia – not honey, not cane sugar, not agave, not splenda – if I felt I needed the taste of sweetness. I had no idea how hard that would be. I never really considered myself as having a huge sweet tooth, but I always felt, like many Americans, I had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of a sugary treat when the craving hit. One year later, I still find myself sneaking the occasional snickers bar or cupcake or spoonful of sugary peanut butter. And feeling the consequences pretty much right away: the sugar high, followed by the brain numbing lethargy, the bloating, the pain in my joints – especially my knees – from the inflammation sugar causes in my body, the overgrowth of yeast…nuff said.
Food can engender some of the more emotional based responses. It’s something we need every day and as such our perspectives in relation to it can easily get caught up in our emotional outlook at any given moment. I have had to actively catch myself in the act of addictive behavior around food. The other day I was annoyed about something and mid-bag, with my brother Alexis as a witness, I said outloud ‘I am emotionally eating the heck out of these chips right now.’ Baby steps.
After these, my addictions start to get more deceptive and harder to spot. I must admit, I have been addicted to love. Much like with the potatoe chips, it didn’t too much matter the size or the package – ok, bring your minds back from the gutter now, lol – I had to have that high feeling of being ‘in love.’ I would go from relationship to relationship, with barely a breath in between, looking for that feeling. And I would often stay in a relationship well past its expiration date, hoping the feeling would come back. Sounds fiendish, right? It was.
Even more Decepticon-like was my addiction to feeling bad, melancholy, sadness. There was a period where I just couldn’t get enough of it. They say misery loves company. Well, my misery loved its own company. It went from feelings of anxiety and frustration about situations in my life to a friend that would always accompany me to an overwhelming experience I just could not turn off. I would feel sad just to be able to feel something. And it’s one of those fabulous ‘gateway’ addictions that gets the others going too, the emotional eating, being ‘in love’ as an escape route.
At the end of the day, who cares? It’s only rice chips and peanut butter. And doesn’t everybody have relationship trouble? Addiction – succumbing to emotion based demands – acts as a repellant of what we truly want. If I want comfort and assurance and I reach for chips, my net total will be momentary distraction and probably pimples, not the comfort I was seeking. If I want joy and look for it in the next relationship instead of in me, I am actually blocking my own deeper happiness. Reality is always waiting in the wings to check back in once we’re done escaping. The key for me has been awareness, forgiving myself and then changing my perspective about my reality.