It’s so interesting to see how addiction shows up in the life of an addict.
Recently my mom was retelling a story about how I would eat M&M’s as a kid and go wild with hyperactivity. Meanwhile, the part often missing from the retelling is that they would gift me a large 1-pound bag of M&M’s in my Christmas stocking. This detail is important to provide actual context to the story. My sister would savor her M&Ms and have that bag for weeks if not months. On the other hand, I would devour the entire bag within a day and ride the wave of sugar adrenaline, driving everyone in my family crazy.
I had no control. And bless my parents for treating my sister and me the same and giving us the same gift. It’s not their fault I couldn’t control my impulse to devour, but my sister could. But it’s moments like these when we are causally sitting around the dinner table, and a retelling of my past shows up on display that I can see how addiction was a part of my life from the very beginning.
I spent a lot of time chasing the adrenaline that sugar provided me as a kid. Over time it was redirected to falling in love, the high highs and the low lows, of that new relationship were addicting. And eventually, I landed where most addicts do, drugs and alcohol.
Thankfully I am no longer under the power of alcohol, in one month, I will be celebrating eleven years of sobriety, but that doesn’t mean I’m saved or cured of being an addict. Thankfully I now have the awareness to see it begin, the stirrings. I can recognize the familiar buzz within my body, the yearning for more. And it’s those moments when I lean into my routine, the healthy habits I have created in my life in order to remain sober and on the path of living my truth.
What are those habits?
- Meditation: I start my morning by turning off my alarm and then meditating. Allowing my mind to wander and prepare for the day. Rather than jumping out of bed at the sound of the alarm I’m not immediately racing towards that adrenaline high.
- Yoga: whether it’s 10 minutes or twenty. I need to get on my mat and move.
- Journaling: freestyle and never re-reading. No set time limit, but I require myself to write one page. This practice allows me time to process my thoughts and emotions, and space to let them go so that I’m not carrying the baggage around with me all day.
- Repetition: Making the same thing for breakfast every day and limiting the number of decisions first thing in the morning allows my mind to be more creative.
- Going into bed at the same time. Sometimes I read, sometimes I watch Japan news. But no more phone, no email, no games, and absolutely no scrolling. Being in bed at a particular time allows my body to wind down and be ready to sleep.
It seems simple, right? And guess what- it is! But putting those small habits into practice is hard work. Even though I know how amazing it will feel to move my body and go to bed early, it’s hard to actually stick with it and do it. What has worked for me is to reframe the habits in my mind not as “wouldn’t it be lovely if” thoughts but instead as survival. I need to do those things to survive. I need to do these things to deal with the stresses of life, to remain sober, and to be the best version of myself. And when I look at it through that lens, I am able to see it not as a luxury but as a necessity to living life.