I’ve been trying to draft this post for five days. Each time I start, I think it’ll be easy, then I freeze a few sentences in. Wait, I think, doesn’t this make it sound like I have a little bit of a “problem”? Do I really want the whole world to think that about me? Isn’t addiction one of those things you can’t talk about lightly, because 1) Real addicts will be insulted and 2) your next employer will find your blog and worry you’re not trustworthy?
Anyway, I am going to say it. I spent so much time playing Zynga Poker last weekend – I don’t think 20 hours would be an overestimate – that I felt really out of control. I kept feeling worse and worse, too. I’d make myself stop playing for a little while, go pot some plants and play with my pets. Then I’d get really emotional and not want to deal with the feelings, and go running back to play poker. It was not pretty.
I haven’t ever been really, deeply addicted to anything, to the best of my knowledge. But I have, over the years, quit a few vices. Some were chemical and some were not. One thing I can say with certainty is that the chemical cravings and the not-chemical cravings all had the very same effect. I would imagine physical addiction feels somewhat different, but someone who’s been there would have to say. My addictive tendencies – and they are passed down through a long line of addictive tendencies – seem to be more of the “behavioral” variety. Whenever I try to figure out the difference, and do actual research on the difference, it’s somewhat reassuring to find out no one really knows.
And isn’t that the wonder of the human brain? All these miraculous ways we can become amazing people, and all these miraculous ways we can destroy ourselves.
So when I got the most recent brochure from Yogaville on Monday, this jumped out at me:
An integration of Ayurveda and Yoga, for a holistic mind-body-spirit approach for all those affected by addiction and self-destructive behaviors.
I thought, “I should really go to that.”
There’s no way I’m going to that, sadly, as much as I think it could be a really good thing for me. I’m really broke, for one thing, and for another, I would feel really silly showing up for a week-long recovery retreat, with the Tiger Woods of the world trying to piece their lives back together, and say, “I’ve been having some issues with Zynga Poker.”
However, it was a case of pointing me in the direction of a much-needed lesson, because it reminded me of this article I read in Yoga Journal last year.It only registered vaguely with me at the time, but now, re-directed to it, I found so much reassurance. Even though I have a fair amount of experience teaching yoga, including gentle yoga, I have a really hard time being truly gentle with myself. Addictive behaviors are a form of self-abuse, of not feeling good enough, and wanting to quieten that feeling – but really making it worse.
Practicing yoga is the opposite of that. In a yoga practice, you meet yourself where you are, even if you feel rough around the edges, even if you feel lonely and ugly and unloved. You meet yourself where you are, and say, “Okay, this is how it is right now. This is who you are. This is what you’ve got, babe.” You take a breath, and accept.
And that’s how healing begins.