Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pretty Little Addictions

Gabor Mate said we are at our most judgemental and least compassionate of addicts when we are addicted ourselves. And our whole society is addicted, in one way or another. If I read the papers I'm fairly sure I'd see reports of societies compulsive addictive behavior.

Anyway! So I'm no exemption, so this year I started kicking my addictions to see basically if I could. It started with KFC, which I ate around 3 times a week. I ate it for the last time on December 31st, 2013. At first I merely compensated for the lost saturated animal fats and salt by eating McDonalds more frequently (I can't recall the last time I ate at HJ's) but this increased my experiences of shame, and with all fast food eatariums one never wants to need to be there as often as the kids behind the counter need to be there to pay their rent/cigarettes. So about three weeks later, I kicked McDonalds as well.

And that was basically it for junk food.

Prior to kicking McDonalds, I also abandoned pornography. I'd posted previously that Porno had become too hardcore for me, the way people were treated in porno videos had stepped up to a level that it was becoming impossible to depersonalise. But then I discovered that tumblr is basically full of butts, very attractive butts, in still photographic images and it was kind of a return to the good old pre-internet days where you hoped to get in the dorm on school camp with the kid who had managed to snatch a Playboy or Hustler. That except thanks to the internet it's like having 10,000 hustler magazines delivered every day. But I just dropped it, from my daily routine. Tumblr is gone. Pornography, nixed.

Australia Day was the last day I drank, and although I've never really been able to handle drinking, I don't really include it among my vices because I'm pretty indifferent to drinking. It's not a compulsion, I seem to randomly go 4 months at a time without drinking, and people I see quite frequently often remark that they've never seen me drink, or never known me to drink. So it don't really count, except in so far as I quit it now, I say no rather than merely not drinking without any conscious reason.*

Then I went camping, and had a good opportunity to kick what I felt was the hardest one for me - caffeine, particulary my sugar filled caffeine delivery system - Coca Cola and Mountain Dew. I had one week to get over the withdrawal then like someone exiting rehab back into their regular environment I was tested by the sudden availability of coke, mountain dew all around me. I have actually declined a free bottle of coke proffered to me by a friend.

It wasn't that hard. This is the concerning thing. I just made a decision, and then my vices are all falling like dominos. I experienced almost no withdrawels, felt better really quickly, esteem keeps picking up. It's been really really easy, to the point that I'm almost getting addicted to quitting stuff.

But you may notice, all my addictions are pretty lame. How is this exercise meant to make me compassionate towards those struggling with addictions to alcohol, painkillers, mdma, heroin, crystal meth... less judgemental.

The hardest thing has been when the thought enters 'well surely I'm not never going to drink Coke again in my life. There'll be some occasion like trekking through South America where a refreshing coke becomes the trustworthy option over tap water or something and it'll be no big deal...' because when I try to contemplate that I have quit something for good the exercise seems nonsensical, ridiculous. It's made me understand why the mindset almost has to be 'one day at a time'

The second thing is, that I'm sure I was only able to quit caffeine because I had the opportunity to remove myself from my environment. I was kind of leaving it till last, but saw an opportunity to be done with it, and did it. But had I not basically left society behind for a week, would I have had the will power to kick a drug ingested by 80% of the worlds population on a daily basis? I can't say, but I could at least guess: not by now.

The other thing, I have to consider is why I'm an unfair comparison to other people's addictions? Why in other words has it been so easy for me? These are my two best guesses:

1. Lack of stressors. Basically since the live exhibition, my life has been free of it's two leading sources of stress. Even so, both my 'major headaches' I viewed as net-positive on me, they stressed me the fuck out, but promoted a lot of growth, perhaps in the same way that drinking non-lethal doses of poison can make a body immune to poison. But by disassociating myself from my most stressful relationship (and hence graduating from psychotherapy) and putting the live exhibition behind me, I simply don't have any stress or anxiousness in my life, therefore, seeking the comfort of refined sugar, saturated fats, caffeine, and the mastarbutory aid of pornography has all been quite unnecessary in a stress management regime. In fact, a stress management regime has been unnecessary.

2. Infatuation. If you haven't been up with my posts, I basically became infatuated, and that means my brain has been getting doses of it's own good drugs for a couple of months. So, put simply, the kick I get from sugar or caffeine is all pretty limp compared to the buzz and excitement that comes from infatuation. It's winding down now to where infatuation has to translate into action, lest it translate into fear and frustration so it is kind of scary to think I may get discouraged, and turn back to my vices.

So fuck, what I'm seeing clearly now, is that the general populace has it arse-backwards. People with addictions don't need to kick the drugs to get their life in order. They need to get their life in order to kick the drugs. I've spoken with those wonderful, amazing people that have beaten serious addiction, and they have to do things to do so that most of us would find unimaginable, or naively simple.

Basically, they have to ditch their entire social circle. To cease associating with other addicts, with other misery, with other pain. So pause for a second and consider who's in the room next to you and imagine having to make the decisions necessary to never see them again.

You could be naive and say that obviously ditching your partner, housemate, family is very different from ditching an addict. But it's precisely your partner, housemate, family that define your sense of normal. They are what make whatever vices or even bad habits you have okay. There's a harder road to be walked, and that's mustering up the will to basically go against the grain of your own social circle. But just imagine how your partner, housemate, family, work colleagues would react if you said 'and tomorrow I'm going to quit my job and become an artist like tohm.'

In other words, to beat addiction is to introduce conflict. Disorder. Just as I realised while away on retreat that being a vegetarian/vegan isn't just a personal decision but a social one. We live in a society really fucken averse to conflict. If somebody is trying to get over addiction, you got to have their back.

*to be fair, I did adopt a conscious rule not to drink with any of my friends that I suspect 'need' to drink for the medicinal anxiety relieving benefits of alcohol, because I am anti self-medicating. This did lead to awkward exposures because for convenience sake I would tell these friends that I had quit drinking, then get busted by them at other social events where the company were to the best of my approximations drinking recreationally.

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