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Let’s talk about addiction.
Welcome to the shadowlands.
As we skinny dip into Scorpio season’s black inked waters, we are invited into her parlor—the taboo realms where we might be suckled into the seduction of our addictions.
What we seek to suppress has power over us.
What we have denied grows stronger, an invisible kryptonite that even the mighty fall from grace in its presence.
My name is Heidi Hinda Chadwick, and I have addictive tendencies. I am pleased to meet you. Please pull up a seat, my friend, and lean in close.
I used to always be one for the extremes—the all or nothing. The middle ground of grays and meh and boredom. A life less than ordinary, chasing extraordinary tales in some insidious unconscious game. Seduced by razzle and dazzle, glitter and sparkle, rock and soul, and the disco ball fragments of 1,001 incredible nights.
Give me the too intense and the larger-than-life. And give me a world composed of fantastical fanfare, a frolic of festivity, and the furious fever of a far from futile existence.
I have written before about the hungry ghost, the Buddhist notion of seeking to quench thirst and quell of hunger that can never be satisfied; the root of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
It’s a dangerous state of living if we are fused with what is outside of ourselves that we have forgotten that all of it is extra clothing, no matter how fancy or fabulous, a little like those paper dolls I used to love when I was young. And that beneath those outfits, there I am, naked, exposed, raw, and vulnerable. And nothing special.
Nothing special. Ouch! (Says my bruised ego.)
We all want to be something, and in trying to be somebody, we miss the freedom that can only exist when we embrace that we are nobody. Nobody. A fool on the hill. A real nowhere man, living in his nowhere land, waiting for his nowhere plans for nobody.
What is the array of addictions? From busyness, love, shopping, scrolling, being perfect, being right, to f*cking up, to being liked, to playing small, to sex, to martyrdom, to complaining, to being someone, to cheese.
When I was young, I wanted to be a rock star, a famous person. I wanted that fame, all celluloid perfection, and perfect hair, skin—the perfect life. Now I am learning to be imperfect. Imperfectly perfect. The recovery time is tedious, darlings! But I know that it is the only way.
I have always been drawn to the lives of artists; the myth and mirage of those creatures that seem to live in this state of extremes. To feel it all and thus alchemize this into art, music, dance, beauty.
The beauty of a life of extremes.
The artists get a free pass, don’t they? The crazy ones. The eccentric. Wild. Destructive. Mad.
In some insidious way, they get to vomit out their shadows for the glory and entertainment of the public. Sometimes, this truly creates art that transcends and unifies us as creative human beings. And yet, sometimes, what is poured out for us all to see is pure destruction, chaos—the shadow side of the spirit of creativity.
Why? Why am I drawn to this? Of course, it’s shadow unclaimed and the shadow of ourselves—the destruction versus creation, death, and life.
Here we go again.
Addiction is seductive.
It weaves a spell of smoky jazz around us, a blue smoke of tantalizing tease to the death. Still, a mantra that my sister and I sometimes joke about. The last one standing; wasted night out, a f*ck it, yet f*ck you attitude! All very teenager, isn’t it?!
I love my liquor, a smoke of fine hashish, a drag on the cigarette. Late nights and dark corners, the perverse and the kinky. The fascination with pleasure and pain, with the skewed and the salty. The edges. The horror and the madness. It’s all a part of me.
It’s our choice to be seduced by our addictions and the cheap thrills, to be cornered by the turn-on of our shadows. They smell of kink and taste of desire. They ignite the fire in us that sits deep down between our thighs. They sound like freedom, but they are not. They keep us within whipping distance of the great mistress of the funfair, the carnival of our soul.
Since integrating these places more means that I honor them, I see them. They are parts of me that maybe I will never be rid of. Though it’s in the seeing and the accepting that freedom comes. Why? Because from here, we can make choices, and choice is power; it’s the responsibility, true maturity, and true liberation.
I can choose.
I can choose to scroll endlessly until my thumb is calloused and falls off.
I can choose to drink until my eyes blur and my inhibitions disappear with the wind.
I can choose to live at the edges.
I can choose to walk the tightrope of madness and destruction.
I can choose all of this.
And yet, I can know that I am feeding the seduction by doing so. I am taking its outstretched fingers and hand, wrapping it around me like a stole, becoming her. It. Half-asleep dreaming in the real world because the real world is not enough. Is it too much? It doesn’t matter. It’s all a resistance to life. I know that. Yet, I still choose this path at times.
I can also choose to sit, to meditate, to be with myself, and drop into the stillness, silence, and space of being, of freedom—from the seductions that tempt my fate and fortune.
I can choose to fill myself with the emptiness full of soul and love and God that it makes me weep.
I can choose to fill myself with gazing at nature, heart stretching in the extraordinary, unfathomable beauty and mystery of a flower, a tree, a smile, this moment, life.
I can choose to fill myself with the impossible textures of my 48-year-old lived in heart, with its pain and grief and aches and longing and loneliness and dissatisfaction and vulnerability.
I can choose to drink freshly squeezed juice and eat no sugar and stay off the coffee and drink enough water and have early nights because this is how I show my body that I love her. And yet, we can be addicted to the good stuff too.
Too much yoga, meditation, green juice can be just as detrimental as the opposite. So we have to hold the dualities. A life of balance. The dance of moderation. Not be seduced by the holier-than-thou, gold-starred, new age, light being one.
If I am cured, then will my art be lost? No. Our art comes from it all.
If I choose a life of goodness, will I be saved? Unfortunately, no. Ageing, illness, loss, and death come to us all.
If I choose to give up my addictions, will I be holy? Nope. Life is everything and includes it all. However, I’m not advocating for a life of destruction and debauchery, though a little sometimes is good for the soul. For me, personally, that is.
There’s no shame in shadow claimed—no hiding in the seductive places that turn us on. We are complex creatures, dark and light, deadly nightshades, and innocent blooms.
Welcome to shadow season. What’s your poison?