I would totally be an alcoholic if I didn’t stop myself from drinking. Those times when I had more than a few beers, more than a few cups of wine, more than a few tastes of alcohol, they felt good. And I wanted more, but I’ve held myself back. Because I know something about myself I would prefer weren’t true — I have an addictive personality. When I find something I’m excited about I immerse myself head and shoulders.
Case in point: music. I heard one song by The Cure when I was 18, one song that blew me away. So the next day I went out and bought six Cure albums. I would have bought them the same day but the store was closed by the time I heard that one song. And it wasn’t just The Cure back then. It was David Bowie, and Sheryl Crow, and pretty much anyone who had one good song on the radio. For me it was all about encasing myself in a warm cocoon of their music and never wanting to leave.
Then there’s reading. When I find an author I like I order every single book they’ve ever produced from the library. And if the library doesn’t have a copy, I do my best to find them all elsewhere. My search knows no bounds because I simply can’t help myself. That’s why, just like with the alcohol, I force myself to have only a little at a time because I know if I let myself go I won’t do anything else but read those books voraciously, to the exclusion of everything else in my life.
It’s crazy to put this down here, because I’ve spent most of my life denying these tendencies to others. I remember my mom asking what I spent all the time in my room doing when I was a teenager. Well, I had rigged up a paper bullseye, and I would use the Nerf ball from my basketball set to play pitcher. I would have whole innings, whole games, and even whole tournaments that took up hours and hours, days and days of my time that I could never get back. I would keep records in a little book.
I look back on it now, and it all just seems so sad, but that’s me. It’s always been me. I’m claiming it now because I know how it feels. I know that feeling deep down inside that wants and craves more, that can never have enough if I like something. And I’ve spent the majority of my adult life forcing that feeling down deeper, so that it doesn’t control me. Sometimes it’s really hard to press pause, to avoid that urge to do something that I know will lead to total obsession. In those times I put my iTunes on shuffle, and I write.
But even writing can fall victim to those tendencies. Case in point: this blog. When I first started writing this blog, in 2012, it was all about getting my thoughts and feelings out, which was good, but the catch was I told myself I would write at least once a day. I didn’t think about it then. I was really proud of myself. But even when I had nothing to say, I would make myself write to keep up the streak. I became addicted to being able to say I was blogging every single day.
Until I had to take a step back and reevaluate why I was writing this blog in the first place. I had to scale it back, and now I only write when I have something to say, like right now. I was thinking about addictions yesterday, about 12-step groups, about sitting in a room and saying, “Hi, my name is Sam, and I have an addictive personality. It doesn’t really matter — the thing — because if I don’t stop myself I’ll get hooked on it, and I’ll lose myself in the process.”
And I wonder if there’s an Addicts Anonymous, if all addictions haven’t been split up and categorized, because that would probably be the place for me if all these little scaffolds ever stopped working. But I think, knowing myself as I do, that I would have no use for it after all. Because I would get addicted to not being addicted to other things. Perhaps that one addiction would be enough to sustain me. Perhaps.