“Everyone is addicted to something.” The words resonated as though my friend had looked into the depths of my soul and read it like a book. Until that day, the thought had never occurred to me. I believed that the term addiction was reserved for drug addicts and alcoholics. It pertained little to none to us “regular” people. Now, I believe quite the opposite. Addictions live and breathe in everyone, and I would even venture to say that almost all of them threaten daily to eat us alive, to destroy us if we do not recognize them and address them.
The problem is that we easily see the effects of drug and alcohol addiction. We watch it tear apart families and attack individuals. The effects are apparent. However, most other addictions are just as deadly. I battle two beasts that society has accepted and applauded – success and perfectionism. I excel at almost everything I touch, and I learn from failures. Even if I do not succeed at first, I find my flaws and fix them. All the while, I maintain a positive, bubbly persona and a pleasant smile. I juggle my responsibilities. I create an interactive classroom full of differentiated, student led instruction. I throw myself into coaching track and field – my first true love. I strive to read books to my children daily, work with them on writing and sight words, and teach them to live a life for Christ. I exercise daily with my husband. We are trying to set aside time for daily devotion. I support him in all that he is working to achieve…
But at what cost?
I scream at children and my husband when they do not get it right the first time. I have maximized my night sleep time at 7 hours, as I have no more time that I can squeeze from my day or extend my morning to reach 8 hours. If I put a nickel in a jar and create a savings account for every time I say, “I’ll be there in a minute,” and take at least 20 more then budgeting would no longer be an issue for my family. I am inconsistent, promising I will be places and do things that I have no time to do. I over-promise and under-deliver. Yet society deems me a “success.”
I followed my passion. I do exactly what I was made to do. I am living the dream. I embody my “ordinarily extraordinary” title, but if I cannot control this addiction, then this addiction will control me. We will kill each other because we cannot coexist.
And I’m not alone.
Everyone is addicted to something.
So I thought I would share some ideas on how I am battling addiction, some things I have found that worked so that maybe together we can win in this battle against addiction.
1.) Admit that you have a problem. Everyone is addicted to something. I know I have said that three times, but I cannot over-stress its significance. Everyone has something they care too much about. Maybe that something is your job. Maybe that something is your house. Maybe that something is control. Maybe that something is cleanliness, or perfection, or success, or money, or sports, or social media, or video games, or shopping, or fashion…or your children…or your spouse. To love something or someone is absolutely okay, but there exists a thin line.
If you are still trying to figure out what you are addicted to, let me point you in the right direction. Before you go to sleep, that thought that plagues you, that haunts you throughout the day, invades every part of you even when you are completely involved in something else.
That is your addiction.
2.) Recognize when you are in danger. I know when I have fallen prey to my addiction. I can tell almost immediately. It drains every ounce of my strength. I have to struggle to smile, not to look completely exhausted. I snap at the people I love the most. I just want to be left alone. I feel the disease at the core. In those moments, I know that I have lost a battle.
3) Develop a plan. My plan – I sit it at the feet of Jesus and leave it there. I drop whatever chore or lesson that “needs” to be done and begin to play with my children, sit with my husband, or pick up the phone and call my sister or a friend. I intentionally disregard the laundry, dishes, or sweeping and mopping. I use the “boring” lesson from last year. I decide that the students can pick their own groups because I do not have the time to create perfect heterogeneous cooperative learning groups myself. I pray about it, and I let it go.
Your plan of action is your best defense.
This week my addictions dealt me some mighty blows. And I felt every one of them. Unfortunately for them, I have learned that I love the life I live without them. So when my addictions come in to wage war, to create chaos and take back what they feel belongs to them, I take a deep breath; I smile, and I escort them out.
“You don’t have to internalize chaos. It will go on without you.” ~ Buddy Wakefield