I’ve been intrigued with addiction lately, especially with addictions that are socially accepted or not even recognized as addictions. There’s the names that are given clinically to those who are addicted to drugs, or sex, or food… but what about addictions that are so slight but persistent that we don’t give them a name and go on living attached and dependent? When we don’t acknowledge them, we get to hide behind them. There’s a worldwide addiction to oil and plastic. There’s a nation-wide addiction to fast food and convenience products.
I noticed my addiction to coffee when I felt down in the dumps and had the thought that coffee would fix my unmotivated and tired self. Now, of course this happens all the time and I’m sure that I’m not alone that coffee seems like a good way to fix feeling tired and unmotivated. What I see as being problematic is when something I want becomes something that creates more wanting in the future. The high of the coffee makes me especially low later, which then is later fixed by more coffee. Caffeine IS a drug, and pretending that it’s different from any other (cigarettes, alcohol…) feels just as ridiculous to me as thinking about how long it’s taken for tobacco users to admit to cigarettes impacting their health. Of course we all have choice and responsibility for our own bodies, so my daily dose of caffeine, or someone else’s use of cocaine is in the hand of the user. I merely want to put light on addictions so that we can see what we’re doing and (if we are committed to it) choose to act against it.
Now, broadening even further– I see addictions to lots of stimulants beyond the drug or body chemical reaction. Addiction for me used to be plucking the hairs from my chin and shaving my legs. I used to spend sometimes an hour ensuring that I got every little spot. It got to a point to where I was shaving obsessively because I didn’t want anyone to see that I grew hair as I did. All in all, shaving and plucking became an addiction because I couldn’t stop. I became dependent on hairless living and made it into a part of who I was.
I went on a strike from shaving just to see what it would be like to not be burdened with the dependency of it, and realized what time it took out of my life, and what pain it caused me. I had no idea of the burden until I tried a shaving cleanse. I experienced the same thing with eating meat. I stopped eating meat when I realized that I was addicted to it. I tried being vegetarian for a month, and that grew into a few months because it actually became easy. Meat wasn’t a necessary part of my meals like I thought that it was.
Experimenting with cleansing (maybe a cleanse from searching for approval, maybe a coffee cleanse, maybe *gasp* an internet cleanse) gives you great freedom! Suddenly you can see what it’s like to not depend on it or hide behind it. It’s not your security blanket, or your fixer-upper. YOU get to decide what that is for you. I am a firm believer that everyone needs some sort of “home base” or place to rest comfortably, so I’m not saying “give it all up and live constantly uncomfortable and unsatisfied”. What I’m saying is that perhaps what you think is normal and necessary, is actually eating away at you and you don’t even realize. You can choose a new “home base” or safety zone. Maybe you’d rather your safe comfortable thing be drinking wheatgrass, or maybe you’d rather have your zone be sitting in a park reading. We all have something that we think is necessary. But maybe that necessity is actually raking havoc on your health, or your self esteeem. Maybe this necessity is causing you to be stuck.
I invite you to look at what you depend on and try playing with stopping it temporarily. If you can’t stop, look at why. What bigger part does it play into your life and what are you getting out of it? It might be hard to see what it is when it’s so pervasive. What are you losing out of this necessity/dependency? I know that when I shaved my legs I was getting approval, and I got to be comfortable with people around me. I was losing an authentic love for myself and my natural body by forcing my body into a standard that I couldn’t easily meet. I was losing self esteem and losing hours in my week that I could put to something I was more committed to.
I’m letting go of coffee this week and seeing what it’s like on the other side.What can you experimental cleanse can you try out? What are you resistant to letting go of?
Beautiful mug in the photo is from Appleware Pottery, where I get all of my stoneware!