Is there a support group for that?

My freshman year of college, a new friend said to me “You have an addictive personality.”

Thinking she meant that it was easy to get hooked on my fun and vibrant attitude, I cheerily thanked her.  That’s when another friend raised and eyebrow at me and said, “That’s not a good thing.”  After I stared at her blankly for a second she told me, “All that means is that you have a tendency to get addicted to things easily”.  As sad as I was that what I originally thought was a compliment turned out to be a criticism, I couldn’t exactly be offended.

She was right.

My addictive personality has made itself known in different ways throughout my life.  Sometimes through food or drink.  My senior year of high school, if I walked by my homeroom teacher and wasn’t carrying a Diet Coke, she would ask me what was wrong.  Sometimes through a television show.  My early teen years were spent living and breathing Buffy the Vampire Slayer – watching, reading about, chatting about [this was back in the day of AOL chat rooms] and talking about all things Buffy.  Sometimes [and this is going to sound way more creepy than it actually is] through people.  Usually this manifests itself in not-so-obvious ways – I would do anything they asked me to at the drop of a hat, regardless of whether or not it was reasonable or practical for me to do so.  I would cancel plans with other people just to be with them.  I would go out to dinner even if I had just eaten, just to join in the social activity with them.  I would go out of my way just to walk by their homeroom just to chance running into them.  This wasn’t usually in a romantic way either.  Something about that person would make me feel like I wanted to be part of their lives, but they also made me feel like I had to work for it.  It was never something they did or said or a personality trait of theirs.  It was my own perception and insecurity based on my own interpretation of their personality.

If that makes sense.

Thankfully, I’m a lot more emotionally and socially stable than I was in high school.

Now most of my obsessions/addictions are short lived and/or healthier, though still intense.  For example, some time earlier this year, I discovered the show Skins.  It’s a show in the UK that recently ended [though they’re coming out with a US version soon!] and had been on for a few seasons before I had discovered it.  I started watching it one day, and got hooked.  Every waking moment I had at home was spent watching Skins.  I spent an entire weekend doing little else besides watching it, only breaking to eat/shower/clean when Megavideo would cut me off after 72 minutes and make me wait 51 more before watching again.  I barely spoke to anyone, barely slept, I just threw myself entirely and completely into watching the entire series.  I put my whole self into this show, my time, energy, emotions, everything.  Then it ended. Just like that. And I snapped back into reality.

I find myself doing this with relationships also.  Romantic and platonic.  I will put my whole self into our relationship.  I will give you everything I have – my time, energy, emotions, everything.  All of me, until there’s nothing left.  If you’re giving back? Even a little? We will thrive.  The second you stop giving back, I quickly become exhausted.  The wearier I grow, the less I’m able to put into the relationship.  It eventually withers and dies.  Like a child who carries around a toy long after it ceases to function, I will be in denial about the relationship being over for a while.  In time, I will have to accept and grieve the loss.  I will then move on.  This is long process, however.  Though I can become ‘addicted’ on someone almost instantly, the process of me letting go is impossibly long.

And sometimes what happens next is what I like to call the Diet Coke Effect.  This metaphor will not be exact. Work with me.

I didn’t have Diet Coke until high school.  Then, when I finally had it and realized that I liked it? I became kind of obsessed. Addicted, if you will.  This went on for a while.  Freshman year of college, my friends tried to intervene.  They tried to limit me to only 6 cans of diet coke a day.  This was hard for me, which just shows you how much I drank.  I went through phases where I would try to quit or try to cut back, but kept failing, relapsing within a few weeks.  Earlier this year, I tried again to quit. Cold turkey.  I told myself that if I could quit for a while, I would allow myself to have Diet Coke on random occasions such as when I’m out to dinner or when it involved rum.  So that was it. For a few months, I kicked the habit.  Then, having set the parameters, I was able to have Diet Coke once in a while.  Now, I have a health relationship with Diet Coke.  I don’t NEED it and when I do have it, I am able to control the amount that I have.  It even tastes a little different. It’s like I see it in a new light.  It’s no longer my life blood.  It’s just a beverage that I can interact with like a normal human being.

So sometimes after the aforementioned death of a relationship, I can revisit it and have a healthier relationship with that person.  Sometimes I can’t.  I guess it’s akin to the difference between a Diet Coke addiction and a drug addiction.  One you quit because you realize you’re dependent and it’s not the healthiest thing ever, but you’re able to have some now and then.  The other was just bad for you in general and clouded your judgment and made you do stupid things you normally wouldn’t do, so it’s best to just quit it entirely.

Then there are things like internet addiction that you just accept as part of your life and don’t have any intention of ever changing.  This is the kind of addiction you don’t even fool yourself by saying, “I could quit if I wanted to!”

Hell to the no. I would die without Hulu. I would cease to exist without Facebook.

Speaking of which, I missed Castle this week.  And I could really go for a Diet Coke right about now…

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~ by Valerie Anne on 11/10/2010.

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