You can diagnose something as an addiction when you have two competing responses to being without the object of your addiction. Response one: Inability to function without it and the constant presence of the thing in your mind, like a taunt going around and around and around. Response two: The freedom and personal empowerment that floods you as you live without this thing you thought you needed. Perhaps it’s a two-step process with the two responses following each other.
These were some of my thoughts yesterday as I went without our Macbook again, this time by choice (read this post and this post if you want some background). I think I can say without a doubt that I had (and perhaps still have) an addiction to our computer and the Internet, and the irony in all of this is that I wasn’t doing anything that would be considered “bad” or “illegal” or “immoral.” The word “addiction” sounds like something serious, and our minds go to alcohol, drugs, pornography or sex, and those are serious addictions with debilitating personal consequences.
But they are certainly not the only kind of addiction, and most of us living our happy little lives in suburbia are nursing plenty of addictions ourselves.
The stuff we think we can’t live without. The people we are trying to please. The lifestyles that cost us personally and financially. The way we do things that rob us of our peace and only compound our stress. The attitudes we rely on that drain our joy and keep us from loving others. These are our addictions, and they are emptying us of what is truly valuable.
All of us have intangible things – and real things – that we treasure. I suspect that relationships are at the top of our lists: Spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers, bosses, and the list goes on. Perhaps after relationships come the sense of calling that we can have toward a way of doing things – I don’t want to say work here, because we all know that we can work and have it not mean anything. When I say calling, I mean the thing you put your hand to that energizes all of you, body, soul and spirit, and when you do it, you know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do.
Addictions are the thieves who come in the night and steal our most valuable treasures. In my own life, my computer and Internet addiction kept me from fulfilling my calling in this season of my life. It kept me from being an effective woman, wife and mother. I have not been operating from my full potential of energy, creativity and mental capacity, and it has been so easy to scapegoat caring for my son, breastfeeding and change. Yes, those things were draining, but not nearly as draining as the self-defeat that came from not getting things done because I was wasting time in front of this screen.
I felt powerful yesterday. I told Husband to take the Macbook with him to work because I didn’t want to face the temptation, but he told me he would keep me accountable and to leave it here. Honestly there wasn’t one moment in the day that I felt like opening it. Instead I felt free, powerful, more creative, and some of the tasks I finished are things I have been planning to do for almost two years (like sorting through kitchen drawers). I made a Sri Lankan chicken curry that tasted like home.
Living without addictions gives us back our time, our freedom, our dignity, our creativity, our relationships, and so many other things.
What is something in your life – or a person, relationship, attitude, lifestyle – that you think you cannot live without? What is this addiction stealing from you? How much will you have to lose to give it up?
I dare you to do it – go without this thing, start the journey of getting rid of these ties and see where the road takes you. My guess is it will be a destination more beautiful and peaceful than you could have ever imagined.
- Watermelon Salad This salad makes me think of freedom – light, fresh, summery. It’s easy to pull together, and it does something wonderful with watermelon, which is wonderful on its own, but oh the joy of pairing it with feta. I first heard about this in Melbourne several years ago from a friend named Kylie. I couldn’t imagine the idea of watermelon and feta together, so I had to try it. The salad I made then had chopped watermelon, mint, lots of crumbled feta, lime juice, kalamata olives, and thinly sliced red onions. It was divine then, and a few weeks ago I was reading Joy the Baker who also had a watermelon salad, but hers has fewer ingredients. Reading about her salad made me want to eat a watermelon salad again, so we did it. This one has watermelon, feta, a few Greek olives and lime juice sprinkled over it. It’s fabulous.