Did you ever try to stop your addiction – right here and now, “cold turkey” – whatever the addiction may be?
Many of us try to do just that, and when we do, there’s an interesting phenomena happening.
Once we recognize that our repetitive practice does in fact fit under the definition of “addiction”, and further, once we recognize that a particular addiction is our adversary, a schism occurs and we become split:
One part wishes to be allowed to continue its practice of indulgence through addiction, while the other tries to overcome the impulse and eradicate the practice. One part is the adult, who knows that the practice is self destructive (to whatever degree), while the other is the child, which exhibits wanting. The adult has its reasons/excuses for aborting the practice, while the child has its own reasons/excuses for continuing the practice. Sometimes the child, just like any regular child, “wants just because it wants”, without any reasons or excuses.
Then there’s the will, or the judge. It oversees both parties, listens and finally decides. The adult has our own wellbeing as its goal, while the child uses tantrums to achieve its own goals.
Being the judge we get torn between the adult and the child. What may initially start out as minor wining, could quickly escalate into ear wrenching tantrums that may seem to increase exponentially by the moment.
Amazingly enough, we are completely free to choose whose side to support. Mentally at least, it is as easy to side with one party, as it is to side with the other. Yet the tantrums have an extorting power which is violent. And just as we end up so many times, giving in to a child’s tantrums, we do the same with the child within, who’s craving its substance of addiction.
The interesting phenomena that occurs, is that each time that we succumb to the child’s tantrums, in effect we give it more strength, so that the next time its tantrums will be more violent than they are now.
Likewise, when we patiently and lovingly, with understanding, say to the child: “I know that you really really really want (the substance of addiction), but it is bad for you, and I’m not going to allow you to hurt yourself or me” – the tantrums will become more and more violent, as they always do. This may go on for minutes, hours or even days, and it is most certainly heart wrenching, just as it is to see any child suffering.
At some point however, the tantrums begin to subside, as the child cries itself to sleep and we get relief – a wonderful experience.
Every time we choose the latter option, we effectively make sure that the next time there are tantrums, they will not be as violent as they are at the present. It doesn’t mean that the judge will not experience emotional pain and pity over the child and consider siding with him/her. It may take quite a few such trying experiences, in which the judge sides with the adult, under very violent tantrums, before the child’s tantrums become less violent.
Each time that the judge sides with the adult, the judge too, from its own perspective, becomes less prone to be swayed by the child’s violent tantrums, even when they are very difficult to handle. The judge begins to see how the child doesn’t have the maturity to protect itself and so the judge gradually realizes that only he/she can protect the child from further self-inflicted damage and pain. When this happens, even if the child’s tantrums are very violent, the judge gives the child a loving hug, and says: “I know that you are hurting. It will hurt for a while, before it finally relents. You will have to be patient”.
Just about anything in our life, could be an addiction, not just drugs and alcohol. Addiction can be to: work, sex, shopping, seeing the doctor, eating, drinking any non alcoholic beverage, taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, TV, internet, Google, need for love or pity, need to be approved of, rituals (both religious and non-religious), habits, being kind, volunteering and anything else that is part of one’s life. Nothing is exempt from potentially becoming an addiction. NO-THING!
When we wake up to becoming aware of this inner dynamics within us – as laid out above – and we fully realize the power that we have to choose which party to side with – this in itself is a very empowering experience / knowledge / understanding. This awareness is our strongest tool to place in the hands of the judge when the time comes for him/her to make their decision.
You are not alone. The journey is not over, but you are getting better, all the time.