I AM AN ADDICT
I am as easily addicted today as I was twenty years ago. There’s just something about my personality that drives me to repeat certain behaviors over and over again.
I wonder if it’s because I’m searching for a feeling, and, when I get it, I want to repeat it?
There are destructive ways to produce that feeling: through alcohol, drugs, and video games are three examples.
There are constructive ways to produce that feeling: through writing, exercise, and love are three examples.
ADDICTS ARE MOTIVATED
The fact that I am an addict means that an inordinate amount of planning goes into me achieving my goals.
If the goal was to be high off weed, then everything else came second to that high. Forget school and work. College was something I could skip without any (short-term) consequence. If I had to go to work, then my trips to, from, and possibly even my lunch breaks during included smoking.
Getting drunk provided total obliteration. Weed allowed for functionality, but being drunk doesn’t fly at work or in class. It was never a problem for me to find friends to go drinking with in college from Thursday through Sunday. I found out soon though, that most people don’t want to do that Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday as well. Although I had no compunction about drinking alone, I did find myself campaigning for weekday drinking buddies.
Then there’s the money. When we become addicted to any drug, we need money to support the habit. We often have to make choices, like ‘food or scotch’ or ‘savings or weed’. Or perhaps we have to lie. Maybe even steal. Maybe even steal from someone we love.
It sounds bad but, it’s not a logical decision. Lying and stealing are simply obstacles in the way of what we need. Nothing more. We do it once, it gets easier and easier to do.
THERE’S A YANG
I do believe that as powerful as any force can be in one direction, so too can it be manipulated in the opposite direction.
I’ve given up the days of constantly getting drunk and high. I’ve learned lessons, and worked through issues. Yet, as I mentioned above, I’m still an addict. The search for that feeling never went away. I simply find it in other places now.
For example, simply ‘going to a gym’ is not OK for me. I had to build my own gym, inside my garage, to meet my specifications. I tried at least five gyms, traditional and non-traditional. I needed my own schedule and the right equipment. My wife thought I was absolutely nuts when I started hauling all sorts of lumber and steel into our house, but, I my heart was set on it.
My entire week is planned out in an inter-twined manner so that my sleep, diet, work, reading, writing, play time, and exercise all have their slots. No detail is overlooked; when I defrost proteins, when I recuperate … you get the point. It’s really not that different from planning how I was going to secure my next high. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what it is.
It’s just a different type of high.
WHAT IS THIS ‘FEELING’?
It’s possible that when I was depressed, I was either: searching for any feeling at all, or; searching for an escape from terrible feelings. It could have been both.
I did re-discover my ‘base set’ of emotions after years of therapy. I think that now, what I’m searching for is something more; something existential. Meaning, mastery, insight, change … things that are hard to explain.
What I can tell you is that each of the things I do yields a little bit of this, and, it does produce a ‘high’. Like, the high I get after a set of heavy squats, or after publishing a scary post.
Yours is probably different. That’s OK. We’re all individuals. What I am proposing to you is that, you can find yours without the drugs.
TRANSFORMING BAD TO GOOD
I didn’t just wake up one day, quit drinking, snap my fingers, and become a blogger. In fact it took many years after my worst point until I started pursuing more positive endeavors. I also still drink, though, under much more control. Except at weddings.
If you relate to any of the feelings of addiction I described above, then you probably already know that you’re never going to find what you are looking for that way.
At first, you will find that blissful period during which nothing else matters. All worry, external and internal, is vanquished. The only problem is, is only lasts for a few minutes. There’s a crash.
You’ll need to consume more and more to get it back each time, and each time the crash gets longer, while the moment is more fleeting.
Get yourself treatment and help. There’s still time to change paths.
You can re-create that moment in other ways. I suspect that the deeper your drive to get obliterated, the deeper your drive to be constructive is.