Addiction surrounds us. Food addiction. Pornography addiction. Substance abuse. Alcoholism. Workaholics. Compulsive hoarders. Sex addiction. Human beings are primed for addiction. And this month, in an effort to take down stigmas, to collect more stories, to help us feel less alone in our addictions, we are thrusting the spotlight squarely upon addiction.
We want your stories - are you an addict? Have you been an addict? Are you the adult child of addicts?
We use the phrases, "TV junkies" and "TV addicts" or "I'm addicted to TV," all the time. We say things like this to indicate that we watch a lot of television or movies. And we do - hours each day - on average.
The problem starts when watching television keeps you from living your life.
When you wake up in the morning then go to bed in the evening without having been outside. Sometimes for days in a row.
Or when you rarely gone to the kitchen for food. If you do manage to get food, you eat it in front of the television.
Your eyes turn glassy. You can no longer have a coherent conversation because your brain has spent hours upon hours mesmerized by the waves of the boob tube.
Here's the thing - I may be a television addict, but I'm a discerning television addict. High-quality programming. Well-written dialog, convincing narratives, beautiful set designs. Excellent, award-winning movies, indie flicks, documentaries. No shopping channel or reality TV for me. Does this make me any less of an addict? No.
Why do I have a television addiction?
Why did I take two sick days last week so that I could watch 12 seasons of a British mini-series from 10 years ago? Why did I cancel my social plans to continue watching it, and, when it was over, move on to another show?
Because it's the easiest and cheapest way for me to dissociate. I may be a television addict, but I can still say that I'm "drug-free." Last week, when I took my "sick days," I'd been in the middle of a rough week, trying to handle feelings about a recent ex-boyfriend.
As a kid who had to deal with child abuse at the hands of her parents, I deftly learned the art of dissociation. When I dissociated, I learned I wouldn't have to feel any feelings at all. I could space-out for hours, losing hours at a time.
You could tell me someone ran over my dog and I'd dissociate from feeling any sadness or grief. I'd think, "huh that sucks," and move on. I was a numb zombie automaton most of my young life.
Years and years and a lot of therapy later, I learned how to feel, and how to deal with my feelings. Sort of. I learned what grief is, how to feel it, how to let it happen, and let it go. But I still struggle with certain types of feelings. Anger is one so completely foreign to me that I shut down when I begin to feel it. Shame, especially.
Instead of consciously being aware of these feelings, my body takes over and turns into a dissociation machine.
The TV is switched on. I get lost in whatever I'm watching. The second it's over, I become incredibly anxious that I might actually have a coherent thought or feeling, so I turn on something else. I'm never really sure what feeling I'm trying to escape because I don't want to know - I assume it will be too difficult to deal with.
So what starts as a few hours of, "I don't feel right, I'll relax with TV," turns into a whole day, turns into three straight days I don't leave the apartment.
Does this sounds like an addiction to you?
Hell yes it is! Right now, it's out of my control. My television addiction affects every aspect of my life and the lives of those who need/depend upon me.
How do I stop? I'm told what every addict is told:
"Wean yourself off."
"Just do something else."
I have no doubt I can. I just have no idea how.5 Comments