Co-Habitating with My Inner Addict

Photo Apr 18, 3 44 51 PM

I’m not surprised that I’m being pulled to give up my caffeine addiction this week. I’ve been practicing yoga daily for almost 2 months. Every time I get into a regular yoga practice, I get much more sensitive to what is not right in my life. I spend 20 or so minutes each morning focusing on my internal life. The deep rhythmic breathing brings me home to myself, and I have to deal with whatever is going on inside. Any little ripple of discomfort or obsession distracts me and becomes like a foghorn in a quiet night. Allowing my soul to settle and be quiet just for a little bit becomes so peacefully comfortable. Anything that distracts me starts to irritate me. What was taking me away from it for a good deal of time was my obsession with having my caffeine. Sometimes I found myself wanting to skip my practice to get to it quicker. But, I wouldn’t do it. I had committed to doing this. But there was that voice inside that said Just this once it won’t matter. And, I’d think, Who the hell are you – wanting what I don’t want … encouraging me to sidestep what I know to be loving and kind to myself?

I know who it is. It’s my inner addict. Not everybody has one because not everyone is plumbed for addiction. But I do, and I’ve known her for a really, really long time. It’s been a rocky relationship at best. Power struggles define the history of our interactions. I knew her since I was a girl, but I never really met her until I went to a codependency workshop right after I separated from my second husband. At that workshop, they encouraged us to draw a picture of our inner addict. At first, I was a little unsure of what to draw, but my fingers began to move, and she finally showed her face. Wild, curly hair framed a face tense with fear. Bloodshot eyes peered from underneath the blanket of curls. She drew herself hanging on a cross because, you see, she is a martyr …. a victim of her circumstances. It’s not her fault… whatever it is. It felt so good to finally come face-to-face with her. It somehow took her power away to know that she was a frightened girl who had a very skewed perception of reality.

My caffeine addiction may not be as strong or as detrimental as my codependency – my addiction to the possibility – or alcohol, but it is an addiction nonetheless. And, my inner addict is pissed right now. Once more, I’m saying, “No, I’m not doing this any more.” Yesterday, I had a great day with my withdrawal. I still had a headache, and my muscles were spongy and achy, but the roller coaster was gone. I felt more energetic as a whole. But, there was a voice inside me telling me that a cup of tea would take that headache away. Just this once it won’t matter. When she’s desperate and using, her voice is more insistent. When she knows she’s losing her power, she becomes more gentle and understanding. She is kind, catering to my immediate needs for comfort.

A friend of mine described his inner addict to me recently. He said he is insistent that it will be okay to do it this time. It’ll be fun. It’s not hurting anybody. We have a right to have fun. But, after his addict has his “hit”, he goes to sleep for a nap. The remorse, guilt, backlash and hangovers are left for him personally to handle. Then a few days later, here comes his addict again. Where’s my hit? Come on, let’s do it again. In recovery, we personify our disease in the same way that I did by drawing the picture of my inner addict. If I can put a face to it or realize that it’s not REALLY me, it’s easier to put up defenses against it. My inner addict actually IS me because I’m doing this stuff, but who cares if I pretend that she’s an intruder if it makes it easier for me to be congruent with who I want to be. Sometimes the ends justifies the means.

Knowing that I have an inner addict simplifies things for me. It is the way I am plumbed. It doesn’t matter what the substance is, I can get addicted to it. When I gave up alcohol, I took on food. Codependency took control at another point. All along the way, I’ve been addicted to caffeine. I can be addicted to just about anything that makes me feel good and takes me away from myself. It doesn’t matter how long I’m in recovery, I will always be an addict. It is my internal plumbing… it is my story … it is my song.

This morning, I rinsed out my blender from my smoothie, and water started rushing out from underneath the door under the sink. I looked to see what was happening, and the entire plumbing under the sink had come loose. It wasn’t a leak. It was a total fallout. I had to laugh because it seemed very synchronistic that this plumbing issue happened while I was thinking about my inner addict and the way I’m plumbed. I’ll have to get my landlord to come over and fix this. It’s a mess. He’ll get it fixed, but the framework – the plumbing – will remain the same. He’ll have to shore it up so that it can withstand the pressure better. Any weak links will need to be repaired. I’ll have to clean up the mess under my sink. My inner addict will never change. I will always have to be strong enough – or supported enough from the outside – to withstand the pressure. She still hangs … on her cross … with her wild eyes ... waiting for an opportunity to get her mojo back. She’s a little b*tch for sure … but she’s taught me so much. How could I ever, ever let her go?


5 Comments on “Co-Habitating with My Inner Addict

  1. Interesting idea to personify your inner addict. The longer you ignore her voice, the less she’ll talk to you, and the easier to recognize her when she does talk. Reroute those dopamine pleasure pathways! 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. It is so apt for me ATM. Today was my first coffee free day! I did it! I’ve been tying to wind down for the past two weeks as instructed by my nutritionist, but I realised how much of a hold it has on me.
    I so identify with the addict within. I also have addiction issues with alcohol and chocolate. I’m not meant to be having any of it whilst following this strict diet for my health, but the addict within does surface to draw air!
    For me, reconnecting with God has helped so far.
    But, I have to say, being an addict really sucks and I wish there was a magic pill to take all the cravings and urges away for good despite what life throws at us!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Fiona. Stick with the coffee abstinence. Being without it has really helped my anxiety which has, in turn, helped shut up my addict. If I don’t have much anxiety, there is no comfort needed. And, I’m with you on the God key. I know that if I’m spiritually fit, I have less needs for anything. I feel so much more grounded. The yoga helps me sit still while I let him Be God. 🙂 Let me know how you do! I’m on Day 9 of being caffeine-free. Today is the first day that I didn’t have a headache, and I’ve had so much energy last night and tonight. I even cleaned my house BEFORE the weekend! Woohoo!

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