Shabat Thoughts: Addicted
I know all about addiction and how it affects a home. I grew up in a household where addictive personalities reigned. As an adult I found myself caught in a repeat pattern. I have fought addiction three different times. No, four. That's why I'm writing this post now.
First let me share with you what addiction is: a behavior that controls YOU. You can't stop drinking, eating, using drugs, seeking out porn sites, indulging in sexual misconduct, shopping, stealing, gossiping, complaining. Obsessive Compulsive disorders are generally addictive behavior as well. So you see addiction may be physical or it might be mental/emotional/spiritual. Yes spiritual. When you deal with any issue that breaks a commandment or affects your walk as a Christian, it is also a spiritual battle as much as it is a mental one.
Over the years I've been caught in addictions and in co-dependent relationships. Co-dependency is a sick form of relationship that allows another to continue in destructive behavior while you 'help' them. You tell lies to cover their behavior. "Oh he's sick today. He can't come in." You fix problems caused by their behavior or run to rescue them. You take on the role of making excuses for how another acts and try hard to be the peacemaker, the one who smooths down ruffled feathers. Essentially you enable the behavior to continue unchecked.
This week while browsing through Facebook I came across a shared post from a friend. What it said, shook me to the core with it's powerful truth. I can't find the quote again though I've tried but in essence it said that you weren't really being a good Christian if you kept forgiving someone's behavior without explaining why that behavior had to change. Mind you this point was doubly driven home for me that particular day because John and I had just been speaking of it. I'd read a verse in my Bible which said that if a brother or sister in the church was behaving in immoral or destructive ways that they were to be brought before the elders...not for condemnation, but for instruction and help to change their behavior. In other words, forgiven, but admonished and encouraged to change.
When I passed the baton of prayer to a pastor friend last month, I told him I needed to distance myself to heal. I could clearly see the addictive behaviors at work in the other half of this equation. What I didn't see or recognize until this past weekend was that I was in an addictive pattern once more. It's not a situation I can walk away from entirely but it is one where I can limit time spent. However, I didn't do that. In fact, several times a day I 'ran into' the problem head on. On purpose. I choked and sputtered and cried out over the new developments and then I'd remember that I'd turned over the baton and calm down. Then I'd check to see what had happened in the last few minutes. Over and over and over. I was feeding my personal addiction: reacting to arbitrary behavior.
In the last few years I've spoken to cutters. These are people who purposely cut themselves in order to focus on physical real pain rather than the emotional pain they feel. Eventually the cutting becomes a sort of addiction. There's an adrenaline rush that goes along with the pain. My behavior was no different. The adrenaline rush I got had become a familiar staple of my day. So when I backed off the issue, I soon developed a desire to check in and get that rush all over again.
Once I recognized the pattern on my part, I had to change. First I shared with someone I trust deeply asking that they help me be accountable. I prayed that God would help me to quit cold turkey. Have I been tempted to find out what's ongoing since then? You bet I have! In three weeks now I've 'checked in' only once. I didn't react to any statement or action but I sure found myself bogging down in those "If she says..." "Well if such and such happens..." I remind myself that I'm fighting an addiction. I have to start again. I have enough experience with this at this point in my life to be pretty sure how to go about it.
Are you addicted? Is there a compulsion that drives your life? Are you ready to give it up and live free? For me it works like this: Pray. Quit. Pray each and every time I'm tempted. Even if it's five minutes since the last prayer. Distract myself with better activities. Learn to recognize triggers. STAY AWAY from them. Pray. Pray. Do this all day long. Go to bed and sleep. Begin anew the next day and the next, until you find you are no longer driven by that need any longer. And if you need help, share with a trusted proven friend, who will pray with you and hold you accountable. Go to a counselor or professional who is able to guide you. There is NO shame in asking for help. None in going to counseling or rehab. The only shame is knowing you need to do so and refusing.