If addiction is defined as a compulsion to do something repeatedly, regardless of the negative consequences, it makes no sense this would be a choice. Especially if continuing to do so hurts the ones we love. Or becomes the reason we live. Because neither of these would we do by choice.
At least not in our right mind.
Addiction doesn’t start out as an act beyond our control. It begins in a slow moving motion and we don’t even recognize its growth until it’s apparent to all those around us. A reality which, for a time at least, we will adamantly deny.
In the beginning, we try something meant to give us joy, and in the surge of its intensity, we never want it to end. The giddiness of that first glass of wine after a stress filled day, or that rush of excitement from a winning hand at blackjack. Then we do it again and we feel joy. And again, we don’t want it to end.
Eventually, we like it enough to create meaning around it.
We host barbecues and football parties, where drinking ourselves to oblivion is an acceptable way to celebrate the occasion. It doesn’t matter the end of the night leads to another blackout. We plan family trips to Vegas, as there is so much to be seen, yet we fail to venture beyond the casino walls because we are one step away from hitting the jackpot. Familiar roads filled with good intention, always leading to a dead end. So close to our incessant desire, yet still so very far.
The broken promise of happily ever after, just beyond our reach.
We ignore those who frown at our behaviors and discount their judgment as simply not knowing how to have fun. What we don’t yet admit is that our behaviors stopped being fun long ago, and we are wickedly close to falling off the edge. Yet we are forever chasing that unreachable joy that swept us off our feet during the addiction honeymoon, where we first fell in love.
What we fail to realize in the blindness of active addiction is not only do we keep doing it for the way it makes us feel, we equally do it for the way it makes us NOT feel. Research continues to show addiction has become a detrimental escape from the unfortunate experiences of our past. An incomplete mourning for the loss of something meaningful that ultimately changes the direction of our life path.
The loss of a loved one, a difficult divorce or an unwanted touch can all take considerable chunks of well being out of a previously unscathed being. The pain of these experiences left unattended can weaken our whole existence and put a halt on our life motivation. Especially when those who love us are unable to heal our pain because of their own.
It is of no surprise that anxiety and depression swarm within the tumultuous relationship with addiction.
At times it is difficult to decipher which one causes the other. And so begins the infinite cycle of turning to addiction to numb the pain, which further ignites the anxiety of our choices and ultimately fuels our depressed state of being. Only leading us to escape into our addiction all the more.
Eventually we learn to hide from all of our fears with addiction because we are mistakingly empowered by how we are feeling in that moment that brings us joy. And we create misconceptions we hold onto that by continuing in our addiction, somehow we will maintain this perpetual happiness. Or at least we won’t think about the pain. At least not today.
All too soon, this relationship with addiction evolves from giving pleasure and avoiding pain to becoming a necessary evil to simply exist. The compulsion sets in and our minds become fixed on our unquenchable urge for that next drink. Our bodies develop a physical dependence that we can no longer disguise.
So we drink to stop our hands from shaking. We do it to feel “normal” again, at least enough to get through the day. We gamble away that last dollar to suffice the unattainable desire to recover our losses. To get back the tax return that was meant to pay our mortgage. Grabbing for what can’t be reached. Searching for joy where it will never again be found.
All to get back that feeling of ultimate pleasure from when we first fell for addiction.
In the end and without help beyond ourselves, the broken state of our damaged brain allows addiction to engulf us with a curse so intense, nothing in our destructive path can stop us from this hell. Not our spouse, our children, our parents, our failing health or our careers.
Not one thing can stand between addiction and our mind.
We have succumbed to this disease bigger than us and it grows stronger than our ability to stop it. We stand to lose everything, yet that might not be enough to end the insanity. The curse destroys all that was good in our lives and renders us hopeless for a better tomorrow.
My personal and still very raw experience with addiction has yet to be shared, but there is no doubt in my recovering mind, the addiction that diverted my path was not there by any choice of my own. My path to destruction crept upon me as the overpowering curse that it was and stole a mother from her children for several months of their lives I can never get back. It rendered me helpless for weeks on end, stealing chunks of time I can’t recall and ultimately ending a career I spent many years building for the person I mistakingly thought I wanted to be. It shook me up, swallowed my joy and buried deep into my unconscious mind all that I once loved.
Shattering the unscathed child I yearned to be and morphing me into a monstrous being my conscious mind will never want to know.
My truth remains that I didn’t willingly choose addiction. Rather the disease of addiction chose me. And it was only through the brokenness of my crumbling spirit and the insanity of my disastrous mind that I found the miraculous strength beyond myself, building the courage to crawl out from under the evil force that bound me. Crushing the curse of addiction.
The addiction from hell, that almost became stronger than my will to survive.
By Kel B.