I’ve been thinking a lot about addictions lately. Even before Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. I have never been the addictive type. My history is so clean I would have made a great political candidate, if I didn’t dislike politics so much. But Richard Rohr, my spiritual guru, says that everyone is addicted to something. So I’m trying to be honest with myself about what that might be.
At times my hobbies have been like addictions. When I first started knitting, I would crank out so much stuff that I made all my Christmas gifts in a month and still had scarves to give away. Same thing with making jewelry. I sold a lot of what I made, but all my profits went towards buying more beads. And I can sing Karaoke for hours. I hosted a small Karaoke party over the summer and we sang for 6 hours straight.
But knitters tend to be fanatical bunch. Jewelry makers can be, too. And for a Filipino, my Karaoke usage is average, at best. Plus these hobbies tend to go in phases. I’m in a knitting phase now. I would describe my interest in these activities as obsessive rather than addictive.
The next addiction candidates would be tennis and sugar. These two things are a consistent presence in my day-to-day life, and I cannot imagine living without either of them indefinitely. Giving them up would require some kind of intensive inpatient treatment program, and even then the probability of relapse would be high.
But playing tennis and consuming desserts has not significantly impaired my functioning, and I’ve been able to cut back. I am only playing 3-4 times a week to prevent injury. And I don’t eat 3-4 desserts a day any more. So I would classify myself as a heavy user but not an addict.
As I was thinking about this post, one of my FB friends messaged me and asked me to write something about codependence. And that’s when it hit me: I am addicted to unhealthy relationships. Ostensibly because I want to help people, but needing to be needed is a form of addiction, too. In the post on solitude I talked about how ashamed I feel for tolerating so much crappiness to avoid being alone.
Based on my experience as a therapist, I know that many people have the same problem. Often clients come in for a relationship addiction. Their friends and family are sick of listening to them. They know they should break it off, but they can’t. They live in secrecy because they’re still in contact with the other person. If someone came up with a detox program for unhealthy relationships, they could probably make a fortune.
I guess in a way I have completed my own self-imposed detox program. And for the first time in 30 years, I did not use another relationship to ease the pain. I rank this accomplishment right up there with defending my dissertation. Maybe even higher. Because after my dissertation I got depressed because there was nothing left for me to accomplish. But as far as relationships are concerned, it’s all up from here.
Interestingly, I started this blog right before the breakup. It wasn’t conscious, but I guess at some level I decided that the energy I was investing in my relationship would be better spent writing. And blogging helped me tremendously during the breakup process. I don’t think I could have made it this far without it.
So until someone comes up with a detox program for unhealthy relationships, I would highly recommend intensive blogging as a treatment strategy.