Addiction: The Human Condition.

JimiAndMe.jpg
Jimmy Agnew, of One Wheel Many Children, and I during the first event we planned together.

Addiction.
It is the human condition.

 

We are all addicted to something. I have not been addicted to substances, but I identify with people who have been. I have had conversations with those who have been and I understand. My addictions have been to a few actions and emotions. One action was running away or storming out. That was my way to cope with a fight, to run away. Instead of running away it could so easily have been drinking. I became more and more stylish with my running away, designing trips and moving cities in an effort to stay away from being present to emotions of fear and sadness. That’s what substances cover up too—fear and sadness and loss of connection, and the having to confront them.

That’s what addictions allow us to do: addictions are simply self-rewarding habits which keep our minds occupied long enough to ignore what’s going on inside us.

Anger blinded me to them just like a few beers might have for someone else, or sex or TV for someone else. I was for the longest time, and many men can understand this, addicted to anger. That and the negative attitude that surrounded it, those were my MAIN addiction. I was short-fused, quick-tempered, temperamental. But how long could I have continued with that story? How long could I’ve continued telling that story, the one of “Oh, I just have a short fuse.” How long could I say this in order to NOT grow?

As one of many changes I made when I began working with a mentor and meditating like a fiend in the end of 2015, I began to let go of this story. After years and years of feeling the rush of feeling anger, the dopamine surges began to not be enough. My hedonic set-point needed more. But luckily, I didn’t take it to the next level. That might’ve meant harming others or self, or trading up for a substance addiction. No, instead it simply crumpled inward. When I began to want to change my short temper and rotten attitude, it came from a place of burn-out. I was so burnt out with who I had become. So sick of myself. Creating fights and then running from them. Letting myself feel angry just sitting by myself! An idea or memory would come up and I would let myself “get worked up” about it. Needlessly!

Anger in itself does nothing. If it is political and inspires social activism, great. If a parent gets angry with a child over something and it inspires them to develop a language surrounding the thing for future purposes, great. But holding onto anger? It hardens you, spiritually and physiologically. As my spirit and temperament have greatly softened, so have my attitude and body language and words! It percolates up into every dimension of our life!

I am so grateful for the people in my life who, whether consciously or not, gave me Permission to Let Go of that way of being. I heard them say, whether they said it aloud or not, I love you anyway, Cary, and you don’t need that to define you. Character is greater than some recurring behavior. It is humility and self-awareness and loving acts done regularly. Character is growing and dynamic, incorporating a look back at old ways of being only for “educational purposes,” and to provide us with gut-wrenching and beautiful contrasts to who we have become.

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2 thoughts on “Addiction: The Human Condition.

  1. Appreciate your honesty, & can relate to the experience(s) you are describing. Especially resonant for me: “As my spirit and temperament have greatly softened, so have my attitude and body language and words.”
    What started as a necessary defense mechanism/coping skill in my case eventually became an obstacle to learning how to live life skillfully. It’s taken me almost 50 years to figure this. Glad you’ve come to it sooner!
    Doesn’t it feel wonderfully freeing to at last begin to let it go?!!

    1. Sue B, thank you for your comment. I’m glad this writing reached you 🙂
      At the time the big realization finally hit I had just turned 27, and I thought that that was actually a long time. At that point, I felt as if I was “catching up” with other people. I simply assumed most people “had it figured out,” that they were in touch with themselves and treated others nicely because they truly wanted to. Now I know it’s more nuanced than that. I now believe that most of what modern people do in their personal lives comes from a place of defensiveness. If that transmutes into being nice to others and helping others, I believe it can still be from that place, unfortunately. Coping mechanism only do that: they allow you to cope. But coping cannot be sustained. Coping is not thriving.
      Yes, it is so incredibly freeing to let go of that self-defense, and to be open and available for others without competing or judging!

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