I had a new friend point out that being connected to my iPhone all the time is not a good thing.
I had been telling him how I am now addicted to Netflix: I think of it on the way home, the same way I used to think of smoking a cigarette.
I have been addicted to tobacco, 39 years; alcohol about 15 years and marijuana about 15 years with a few years in there where it was not an everyday and several times a day habit. I have struggled with food ever since I began trying to quit smoking, maybe 33 years ago. I don’t eat emotionally anymore but I did for most of my life. In fact as a freshman I would go to three fast food restaurants in a row and eat till I felt sick then get high till I embraced the void.
One of my other good friends mentioned how few of us truly change. We shift things maybe, rearrange ourselves inside and out—who are becomes a sure thing at a young age.
What we do with who we are is where we find what we are made of in life.
Years ago I read a book titled ‘Addiction and Grace’ or something to that effect. I was relieved to learn that most of us have addiction. It may not be the self-destructive kind I have embraced most of my life. Some of us are addicted to thoughts, to control, to nasal spray and to exercising.
The funny thing to me, it’s like when I could no longer deny alcohol was killing me spiritually, drinking to oblivion night after night, year after year, I can now no longer deny the anxiety I feel if I don’t check my iPhone. I can no longer deny the emptiness I am escaping with television and Netflix.
So what drives addiction?
I cannot speak for everyone, but for me I think it’s an overwhelming need to connect. I find my sense of self is stronger than it used to be. I love who I am.
In AA we say we drink because of a spiritual need: hence the first step of turning our will and our power over to the care of God or a Higher Power as we understand it.
AA helped me get sober and stay sober. I don’t live in perpetually recovery in AA but I live in a perpetual state of wanting to deepen who I am by furthering how I am.
I want to grow.
I want to be free of anxiety and angst.
The good news about AA is they don’t take roll and I know it is always available if I want or need it. I am one of the lucky ones because I find I don’t need it as a rule.
Hence I say I don’t live in perpetual recovery. I paid my dues. I know the program. I know it works. It’s part of me because I went all the time for years. I have been sober since 1990.
Smoking is gone. It was a fluke of a decision in that I did not think about doing it when I did it for long but knew when my living situation changed and I no longer lived with a smoker I could quit, and wanted to quit.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I gained weight that I am losing.
Yet I am still as addicted as I ever was just the form has changed, the effect is the same.
I escape feeling.
I feel less alone.
I crave for the calm I feel when I teach and practice yoga— all the time.
I want peace.
I meditate on occasion, in waves. My teaching has grown.
Now I want to learn to live beyond addiction.
I don’t know if it’s possible but I am nothing but tenacious and I don’t give up easily.
So thank you Mick. You opened me up to more by pointing to my present.
The gift that keeps giving—now—won’t escape me forever.
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Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: elephant journal archives