Vices come in all forms. Substances, people, things, and attitudes. Having an obsession over something that provides you with temporary relief is a very subtle foe to combat. I’ve realized with a little time in sobriety, the subtlety of obsessing can be a deep and never ending abyss.
Looking back on when I still drank alcohol, that obsession was fairly obvious. It was easy for others to see it in me, and, once I decided to open my eyes, I saw it easily too. However, it’s not quite the same when it comes to obsessing over feelings, work, or time. We have all sorts of different terms for this, and we throw them around with humorous intent. But, it feels pretty damn serious when you’re in the middle of obsessing about it.
I distinctly remember the first time it dawned on me that I was actually “obsessed” with time, and was neck deep in future tripping. This was about August of last year, and I woke up at 7 am on a Saturday. I had a huge list of work tasks that had been looming over me for a month or so. I had totally loaded my plate way too full.
I stepped outside for a morning smoke before starting to work through another Saturday morning. I burned through three cigarettes in about 15 minutes. While I was smoking, I started mentally anguishing over all of the things I needed to do hour by hour that day. Then I went through the next day, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next… I got all the way to Friday of the next week when I just snapped out of it. I realized I felt exhausted. I had just mentally lived through an imaginary anxiety-filled week of my life in fast forward. NECK deep in future tripping.
It was then that I finally understood what obsessing really meant. So, I did what I had been told to do. I just talked it through to myself out loud. In other words, I prayed about it. I just asked myself to let go of it. Did it immediately go away? No. But, no obsessive feeling immediately just vanishes. However, glimpsing the possibility of it being absent gave me the path to eventually let go of it. It gave me the permission to move yet again closer to a more balanced and level state of mind.
People develop addictions, “crutches”, and debilitating habits for an unlimited amount of reasons and sometimes no apparent reason at all. In my own reflection on the issue, I found that many of my own struggles came from relying too much on one thing. Booze, cigarettes, coffee, work, time, people, music, on and on and on.
We can take alcohol for example:
- Someone’s reality becomes too much to handle.
- They want some form of relief from the reality.
- They start drinking here and there to gain relief.
- The occasional happy hours turn into nightly routines.
- Their tolerance rises.
- Their drinking increases.
- They neglect to notice that they are ingesting a depressant on a regular basis.
- They become depressed.
- They try and relieve the depression the same way they’ve been getting relief…more booze.
- The booze starts to chemically alter their body, and their brains reward centers.
- The irrational brain starts associating safety and security with drunkenness or booze.
- The rational brain becomes confused, and sometimes just shuts off for some.
- They either continue down the rabbit hole, or eventually they or someone else gives them help to end this cycle.
Keep in mind, I am of the opinion that someone can go through this cycle or at least part of it without becoming an “alcoholic”. The same can be said if you reword a few of the sentences and replace “drinking” with “working” or “ casual hookups” or “drugs”. The theoretical person isn’t automatically a “Workaholic”, “Sex Addict”, “Drug Addict”. However, it is highly likely that if they keep leaning too hard on that particular thing for a long enough period of time they are guaranteed to become one of those things.