“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” Jean Kilbourne
When I say the word, your mind instantly jumps to drugs, alcohol, and other substance abuse. A valid starting point, as we have all seen the awful effects these things can have on the lives of loved ones. But if you think they are the only ones struggling with addiction, you are very quick to judge.
Addiction takes many forms.
The actual dictionary definition is as follows:
-noun: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
So maybe at this point you are trying to think of broader examples. That morning cup of coffee without which you cannot function. Sugar, or any other food you eat way too much. The smart phone you feel naked without.
We hear the negative side-effects of these things all the time. Too much of anything is a bad thing, right? I think often our vices spawn from things that really aren’t considered bad for us, and so we don’t even notice it happening.
I’ve come to realize there was a time in my life when I was addicted to television. It wasn’t that it consumed my life, but rather that it was what I turned to when I needed to feel better. It was my fix.
Now, I know I’ve mentioned on here before that I study film. I want to write screenplays some day and make my own movies. I love the art of film and filmmaking, and have dedicated many hours of my life to learning about it. That is a healthy interest, and that is not what I am talking about here.
I am referring to the days of high school where I had to very deliberately put one foot in front of the other to make it down hallways and into classrooms, past thousands of people I was too numb to see. When I made it through a lonely lunch and consoled myself with the fact that in just a few more hours I could sit on my couch and finish the third season of Growing Pains, or whatever other old show I was binging on iTunes. That was the thought that got me through the day. I could watch TV when I got home. And I would. I would sit on that couch for as many hours as possible before I actually had to do something else. And it made me feel better. Not good. But it wasn’t about feeling whole, it was about not feeling empty.
[Tweet “It wasn’t about feeling whole, it was about not feeling empty.”]
I like to think I’m doing better now. I kid to myself that I have complete control over my feelings. But I do try to be conscious of why I do the things I do. Why I’m watching this season of Doctor Who for the seventh time. Still, no one is perfect and it’s not hard to run into a relapse. It helps to at least recognize you have a habit controlling you.
When people get caught in an addiction, it’s not simply because they tried something at some party once and ever since it got in their system they just can’t get enough. No. Addiction stems from trying to fill a hole. To cover it, smother it, hide it so you don’t have to look inside. Holes are deep and dark and scary. It takes courage to stick your head in and define your missing parts.
Luckily, there was a man years ago who had holes put in his hands and feet and side so that our holes can be made whole.
Not to turn this into some “Addiction Recovery: Come Unto Jesus” post, but isn’t it wonderful to know that we are not in this alone.
“And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” Mark 5:34