I should have seen the warning signs.
The need to finish. The restlessness with things left undone, or even unsaid. The easy way I brushed other things to the side, the things I skipped out on.
But I didn’t. I didn’t see them. And now I’m 30 and just beginning to deal with it.
I have an addictive personality.
It’s a real thing. It’s a psychological setback that makes one predisposed (read: more vulnerable) to developing very real addictions.
We know many of the Name Brand addictions: drugs, alcohol, pornography, exercise, work.
But what about the lesser known addictions? Sweets. Sleep. Shopping. Video games. Television. Relationships. Gossip. Adrenaline.
How about approval?
Or even attention, in general?
I know in my case I’m particularly vulnerable to ‘feel goods’. I can’t just read a book- I have to finish it. I obsess over a story until the last page comes and goes, and then I discuss the story, and contemplate the potential (and imaginary) epilogue. I can’t just watch an episode of The Blacklist, I have to binge watch the entire thing and then complain about how the third season isn’t on Netflix yet. I have a serious sweet tooth which is currently being tickled by tootsie roll pops. They’re not even that delicious, and yet I can’t stop enjoying them- to the point where I even feel a teensy bit of shame when I unwrap one. I need attention from my husband in unhealthy ways. I should understand and obey the ‘Appropriate Time For Attention’ rule, but I don’t. Sometimes when we’re both working from home, I’ll walk into whichever room he’s working in, [rudely] take his laptop and set it somewhere else, and crawl into his lap. Sometimes I won’t even say anything, I’ll just cuddle up there and breathe for a minute. And then move on. But I need that attention- I feel it deep in my soul.
Approval? Yeah, that’s a daily struggle. Do I stand up for my very passionate opinion? Or move on because I want my boss/coworker/teammate/apprentice/husband to like me? Do I have a spine? Or do I rip it out and toss it aside at the first hint I may be at odds with someone important to me? Or sometimes just anyone…
I have an addictive personality.
I’m also a user.
I’ll take these tootsie roll pops for the next month or so. And then when I’ve slaked my thirst, I’ll move on to something better.
You see, it’s never the one thing that is enough.
Once Agents of Shield, or Friends, or Dr. Quinn wraps up its final season, What’s next?
What’s that about?
I know these things aren’t as important as, say, people… but it shows a very worrisome trend in my life.
I’ve always been this way.
When I was young, my grandmother had to practically kick me out of the house on summer afternoons in order for me to even see the sun, because my nose was always, always stuck in a book.
I’m a World Champion martial artist. Think that happened overnight? Nope. It happened because I devoted a decade of my life to daily training, and submitted my body to a rigorous schedule, including even the things I ate and drank. I wasn’t so much addicted to the exercise as I was to the positive attention from the male role models in my life. I never got that from my stepdad (or regular dad for that matter), and I craved it to the point of obsession. Winning won me attention, affirmation, and approval. When karate became too much for my body to bear, I moved to dance and yoga, partly for enjoyment, and mostly for positive attention.
If I ever had an injury, the second I was mostly recovered, I would jump right back in at 1000%, sometimes re-injuring myself. One time in high school, after mostly recovering from a serious quad strain, I broke my foot in my first game back, because Home Girl has zero chill.
I need to be very, very aware of what I bring to the table. Netflix binging could easily become food or alcohol binging. Approval-seeking, even in its mildest form, can quickly become obsession. A second bowl of cereal is not a good idea for me. Unlimited time for television watching is not healthy.
I need strong limits and boundaries to walk in real health.
Because the thing is…
abundant living comes out of real awareness and a willingness to limit the ‘good’ so it doesn’t become the ‘bad’ or ‘terrible’.
I know I have an addictive personality. I know I have addictive tendencies. I know I tend to want seconds of whatever releases the next hit of dopamine, and that the pleasure I get from life needs to be regulated so it doesn’t become the goal.
Because I am not bound by my predispositions. I don’t have to fall to any addiction. I’m free. I’m alive. I’m healthy.
And I plan to stay that way, tendencies be damned.