I am an addict. Often this is a word loaded with negative connotation. And why shouldn’t it be? I admit that I struggle with nicotine addiction, of which I am usually winning the battle. I say nicotine, but really I just like smoking things. That feeling of inhaling, filling your lungs, followed by the slow creep of an altered state. Oh yes, I am addicted. Of course I feel no shame here. We are all addicted to various things. Some of us have an addiction to crochet (yeah, looking at you, Amber). Some of us gambling, sex, cooking, sports, even the Dali Lama warns about becoming addicted to meditation when it’s new to the mind, saying in the book Tibet, Tibet, “”In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself.”
But, why would he say that about a system which is based around bringing inner peace? Is there a hint here? A hint that the Dali Lama knows fulfillment from what brings one peace is a slippery slope. The feeling of being at peace is in itself a perception based on brain states. Thus susceptible to the concept of being an altered state. Addicted to inner peace? What does that even look like?
I’ll present a possibility. If one finds inner peace through prolonged meditation, and every time something stressful reared its ugly head, you sought that refuge, one would soon find themselves denying their problems, or at the very minimum avoiding them. Genuinely difficult obligations to friends and loved ones could be shunted aside questing for Nirvana. The social toll on a local environment, which then spreads to a greater community problem is a possibility under these circumstances.
Far fetched? Reaching? Maybe. Addiction to inner peace isn’t really what my point is here.
I am an addict.
My addictions run deeper than “smokes and road beers.” The addictions which have caused me the most turmoil are the ones within me already. My largest daily struggle is with emotional addiction. This is likely one of, if not the most, understudied form of addiction.
That statement is only a theory. So, I entered “emotional addiction” into Google’s search bar and got this:
Two entries in “84,200,000 results,” awesome.
I guess maybe it isn’t an issue? I didn’t really consider these two entries “reliable” sources, and everyone else seems to focus on the psychological issue of what addiction can do to the mind. I understand why that is so important, and I want the field of neuroscience and medicine to continue to study them, at in increase even. Yet, I also want us to recognize that sobriety may be an illusion of norm. Brains are constantly changing, so what is considered normal or “sober” must be quite flexible under these circumstances. When you become extremely excited by something, chemicals flood the brain changing the way you behave and respond. When a person is laughing at their hardest, they are virtually incapable of responding “normally” to stimuli. A person lost in fantasy about a potential new love interest can sit through a conversation without hearing a word of it.
If texting while driving should be illegal, so should daydreaming and driving, or laughing and driving.
I seriously crave my emotional highs, and lows. No two ways about it. This first came to my attention nearly a year ago. One of the many factors which led to my counseling sessions is my addiction to anger. I didn’t like my rage, but I felt righteous and strong during those times of intense anger. I knew I could alter reality with the slamming of a fist, a wrathful gaze, and/or the launching of a bookshelf. I knew why god destroyed man. When I am in that state, I want to see the world on fire all around me. I want suffering. “Become vengeance, David. Become, wrath.”
Conversely, I also crave my sadness. When I feel my most vulnerable, when I feel my weakest, is when I am often most inspired to create and self affirm. I want that sadness trigger. Feeling the tears roll down my cheeks and the constant nose drip reinforce the emotional pain with which my perception is sometimes in constant contact. This turns into MMs, articles, drum lines, study, and research. I love all of my art, but feeling so much sadness all the time will have serious adverse physical effects. No to mention psychological effects on those depending on you, depending on you to show them joy too.
The obvious solution is balance, but true balance is an unsustainable goal within a mental system. Indeed, likely within every system. Every bridge will fall eventually, and one cannot stand on their head forever. Even locomotion is obtained by continuously falling forward and catching yourself. The very process of walking requires imbalance.
My approach is similar to that of walking. I let myself fall. Realizing that I must also catch myself. I will do it on purpose these days.
I can usually feel the sadness coming.
Yesterday, it was a picture of my recently passed and most loyal friend, D, which appeared as a memory reminder at the top of my FB app. The picture was of Darian at one of my shows from seven yeas ago. He looked so happy, and I am sure he was, to be at a concert that his friends were playing at was one of his greatest joys. Understanding that this was going to be a rough one for me, I set myself up countermeasures. Opened my office computer up and loaded documents to edit for the press site. I also covered a part of my bed with research and study material. Rather than spin out, I would have genuine loci for my response to a brain state.
As I am an addict, I will not just hop out of a sad state. I will spend hours on the edge of my bed, tear after tear, replaying the trigger event or thought, like a junky with an always loaded kit.
Using the principles of meditation I have harnessed for years, once I have acknowledged my state of being and noticed a reflective moment—clarity—I try to move to my balance behaviors already enabled in my comfort zones.
I fail, a lot.
I try to repeat the process. It isn’t just sadness. I will spend a whole day imagining possibilities that flood my brain with dopamine. I feel like I am figuring out the worlds problems, locked in with laser focus to idea after idea, while the whole day spins a way, no dishes done, no laundry folded, no money made. When I come to, as guilt and depression seep in over the neglect of my responsibility, the sadness battle begins, but we are all busy. The type of self-care I was able to deploy yesterday isn’t always available. In this way, I have to be ever vigilant.
This is why working “regular” jobs has always failed for me. Imagine trying to regulate the scenario I just depicted behind a liquor store counter or in a cubicle. I fall to dependency, depression, and anxiety within a couple of years, or as quickly as three months. Everyone questions why someone of my talents struggle with resources, as I have all the pieces for success and at times have been considered successful. Always a falling house of cards without acknowledgment of my problem.
I like to think I work very hard at my trade, artistry. It isn’t currently earning me enough to be sustainable in the long-term, but that is what hard work will often bear out, if you know yourself, at least at some seriously uncomfortable levels. I see myself more clearly than ever before, and at that too, I intend to keep working very hard.