Working through addictions can hard, especially depending on what the addiction is. Some are much harder to remove than others. While some are as simple of never consuming or doing again the thing itself one is addicted to, others aren’t that simple.
Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking a cigarette, having a caffeinated beverage, eating chocolate, and gambling all fall under one side of the spectrum in addictions. For me, those were easier to remove the phenomenon of craving that went with each of them. Why? Because I didn’t need any of them to function in this lifetime. None of them were life essential and after removing them from my system and going through withdrawal for each, life went on.
Unfortunately, my addictions transferred to ones that weren’t as simple as to just remove them from my life. What about overeating, codependency, and sex and love? A human being has to eat to sustain life. Unless a human being goes into the wilderness or a monastery to be away from people, being in connection with others is next to impossible to avoid as well. And as for sex and love, I have found this is a part of being human and even with long durations of celibacy and withdrawal from others, the drive never went away.
Codependency for me is something that took an intensive amount of therapy to get to the source of why it was that I ended up in relationships with others that I felt I couldn’t survive without. Ultimately it was the fear of being alone. No matter how bad the relationship was, I seemed to always stay in it because the idea of being alone was worse. Working through this one is an ongoing thing for me. Spending time alone and doing things in life by myself is a big part of my recovery with codependency. I’ve learned I can be happy by myself doing things such as puzzles, watching movies, reading, writing, going to the beach, and even traveling. Making sure I spend time alone and learning to have a healthy relationship with myself has led to me being able to be in healthy independent relationships with others.
Overeating is a little more challenging in that I know starving myself won’t make it go away. Slowing down in my life through meditation and working with a counselor helped to see this addiction and its triggers a little clearer. For me at least, the main reason why I overeat was to feel an endorphin rush that I got from the food itself. I know that might sound crazy but food can make one feel good when eating it. I love pizza for example. When I have a single slice I really enjoy it. It’s when I have a whole pizza in one sitting when it becomes a problem. Economics labels it as the “law of diminishing returns”. With each amount of consumption, less satisfaction happens. Sadly though, an addiction based mentality doesn’t think that way, they think more is better and creates more of that good feeling. Being mindful as I eat is the only way I know how deal with this. I watch my portions. I try to stay away from buffets. And I do my best to eat as healthy as possible. I’d rather overeat carrots and get a little bloated then eat several large fries at McDonalds and feel depressed the next day.
Then there’s sex and love addiction. I put this last because it’s the hardest for me. To be sexual truly is a part of being human for almost every person in this world. To fall in love with someone is many a person’s dream. Even worse, one can’t go anywhere today without seeing sex or love plastered in your face. Billboards and signs, racy commercials, TV shows and movies continuing to take it one step further and push the envelope, and God forbid one mistypes on an internet search tool that might result in over a million pornographic websites returned in the listings.
Unfortunately, my first sexual/love based experience in this life was when I was molested at 12 years old. While I had been attracted and also a friend to this much older adult prior to the incident, I never deserved to be taken advantage of by this person and I was never given any counseling around it after it happened. To make matters worse, my family never helped me to understand my sexuality or my hormones that I was feeling which had preceded even before that tragic event. So I was left to believe that what I experienced was normal. My life pattern became a stream of dominant, abusive men that I allowed to take advantage of me both sexually, monetarily, and emotionally and sadly, I felt excitement around those terrible relationships because it was my “norm”. When someone came into my life that really was a healthy person who could love me for me, I’d run away. True love was foreign. I didn’t experience it as a child. Deep sexual intimacy was also foreign. I had never experienced it from the time I first had a sexual encounter nor in any of the people that followed.
I’ve been working on removing the effects of this addiction for the past nine months. I’ve lived for more than 27 years of my life with that addiction in charge of me. It’s been over nine months now where I’ve not let it be in control. There are many actions I’ve had to take to no longer have it in charge of my life. Cutting ties with those that triggered me was one of the first things I had to do. I had so many people in my life that were either lustrous objects or friends with benefits. All of them are gone now. Staying away from any type of pornographic material was another. Sadly it’s everywhere now. So many magazines are incredibly racy now and like I had already mentioned, it doesn’t take much to find images on the internet. I avoid today the places that triggered me as well like bars, or rave scenes, or house parties. I used to fantasize and daydream sexually a lot in my life as well. I don’t anymore. I don’t allow myself to. All of it perpetuated the downfalls of this addiction.
I am happy to say that I am finding a lot more freedom today from the burdens of this addiction and really an addiction based life. My body is still recovering on every level from living so long in so many addictions. I know it takes time. Snapping my fingers and wishing all of it would just go away hasn’t happened and probably won’t ever happen for me or anyone else. Removing any addiction takes a lot of hard work, prayer, meditation, and focus. It is possible to find freedom from any addiction. From my own experience, the solution was putting God at the center of my attempt to heal from any one of them. When I tried to find healing on my own, it never happened and I just went right back to any number of them. Living in God’s will or as a 12 step program puts it, a Higher Power’s will, has brought me more peace than I ever experienced when I was active in any addiction.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson