When you think about addiction, you normally think about alcohol, drugs, shopping, maybe eating. I think everyone deals with addiction. I think we all go through waves of addiction – those times where you become absolutely consumed by something. Remember beanie babies? What about Spice Girls gum? I know scrapbooks took over my room for a solid 3 months once. As humans, I think we are constantly moving through these cycles of obsession. This is how you end up with an entire drawer full of buttons.
The actual definition of addiction is: the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. That leaves a pretty broad spectrum of things you love to be considered things you’re addicted to. The definition of addicted is: to be physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects. So that narrows it down a bit by using the word ‘substance’. But I think part of addiction and the process of being addicted to something is that feeling of euphoria when you finally get it. Those few moments of bliss as you hold what you’re addicted to, in your hands, and in that moment, it’s yours.
You know that feeling you get when you start a new relationship? Those first few really great months where you can’t get enough of each other and everyone thinks you’ve fallen off the face of the planet because you never leave your new partners side? Those are great moments in life. Your heart physically aches when you’re not with them and you feel as you’re walking around with a piece of yourself missing. I thought about those relationships; both healthy and unhealthy, my own and others. What I see is a significant similarity between addiction and love.
That’s when I thought about human addiction. Those times, that most of us have found ourselves in, when we are so obsessed and consumed by someone and we completely ignore any physical, mental, or emotional damage it’s causing us. Even though this obsession can cause damage and have potentially devastating effects on our lives. Sometimes we recognize the negativity and we remove it from our lives and never think about it again. Kudos to those who are able to do that. For most, the heart takes time to heal. You go through withdrawal, sometimes you relapse, then you have to cut yourself off all over again and it’s just as painful as it was the first time. You find yourself thinking of that person for no reason at any given time and fight the urge to contact them. Then sometimes you do contact them and it’s like your fix and then you’re good for another few weeks or months.
Like addiction, even when we know a relationship is bad for us, we continuously go back to it, simply because it feels good. We allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, we allow ourselves to feel pain and disappointment as this addiction-esque individual behaves as they always have. Nothing has changed. This time it won’t be better. Just as cocaine doesn’t have a lesser effect on you the 2nd or 3rd time you become addicted, the person you keep going back to won’t get better each time. You know this too. You’re aware of it. But we lie to ourselves, we tell ourselves that as soon as it happens again, we’re done. This is the last time. But you’re addicted. You’re addicted to their love and it’s hurting you.
The universe will give us signs that this person is no good for you. The red flags rise and the sirens go off. But you rationalize through those with the most irrational excuses. You find yourself having to convince yourself (and others) that this person is good. Even when that feeling in your gut is so strong it could jump out of your throat at any minute. You find yourself fighting for the integrity of someone who has shown you anything but integrity. You may even admit that you’re doing this and for people to get off of your back about it. As if somehow being aware of your erratic and neurotic behaviour justifies it.
Then there comes punishment. That pivotal moment when the universe has given up on subtle signs and decides to seriously cut you down. These instances are what I like to call, “learning the hard way”. You just wouldn’t listen to your gut. You were not learning from your mistakes. You would not take your own good advice. So the universe sucker punches you to prove a point. Every time I have been sucker punched, I’ve walked away. No matter how hard it was to abstain and recover. I was too afraid of harsher punishment. So I finally closed the door.
I totally understand why people say love is like a drug. It makes you feel amazing, as if you can conquer the world. But, drugs are bad. If you find yourself obsessed with someone who is hurting you, let go! Run if you have to. Escape from the firm grasp that addiction has on you knowing that addictions never end well. Easier said than done, I know. Love totally f*cks you up. But you can persevere. Grab some band-aids. Hibernate with some chips and classic movies if you have to. Eventually the clouds part and your heart is full again. There are no empty parts or missing pieces. Remember that we teach people how we want to be treated. So teach everyone around you that you deserve to be treated with respect, love, admiration, and graciousness. No one deserves to be treated so poorly that their hearts hurts more than it shines.