I have an addictive nature. The worst thing I’ve ever been addicted to is cocaine. Cocaine is not a very fun mistress. She’s demanding and expensive. Oh, but I do love her in all of her forms, especially the chunky, rocky one. I love the way she makes me feel invincible. Up we go!
But, I’m done with that now. The most hardcore substances I ingest these days are the occasional alcoholic beverage and delicious nicotine in cigarette form. I’m working on kicking the latter, but it’s really, really hard, so get off my back. I’ll quit when I’m ready.
I’m aware of my tendency to get addicted to things. As silly as this sounds to say, I wasn’t always aware that I’m an addict. Really, I thought that I could just smoke crack cocaine and walk away from it. Silly fish. But, that’s the mindset of an addict. We say ridiculous things to ourselves to justify our behavior and do it one last time. Just once more.
We make stupid wagers with the universe; if that cat reaches the light pole before that car at the end of the block does, I get one more hit. And if the cat suddenly changes direction, it was the other light pole we meant. Or we’ll make another wager that we know will happen. We flip coins knowing the outcome we’re hoping for and if we don’t get the outcome we want, it’s best of three. If not best of three, it’s best of five. And so on until we get the outcome we want as if it makes any difference. We do this because, deep down, we know that what we’re doing is wrong.
But, that’s the mindset of an addict. If you crawl down far enough in that rabbit hole, everything else just disappears. Your job, kids, pets, hygiene and all other obligations just melt away as long as you can keep scoring. That’s how I ended up a homeless prostitute in the middle of a Michigan winter. It’s just that easy to let it all disappear.
Knowing that I’m an addict, I have to be very careful about the pastimes I undertake. I’ve gotten addicted to everything from crack cocaine to buying shoes. I get addicted to all sorts of things you wouldn’t even think people could get addicted to.
I’ve been addicted to video games. When I was playing Borderlands the first time, I sat outside with my laptop on the weekend for about ten hours straight. My roommate came home around ten at night and flipped on the lights. I had been sitting in pitch dark for who knows how long. My legs were numb from not having moved and my fingers were absolutely frozen. I hadn’t fed my animals. I hadn’t fed myself. I couldn’t even remember the last time I got up to pee. That’s the mindset of an addict; everything else disappears.
I’ve had to be literally dragged away from a craps table in Las Vegas by a friend of mine because we were supposed to leave for Los Angeles about three hours before. I was down several hundred dollars and I thought that, if I could just play a few more hands, my luck would change.
Sunday night, I hosted a semi-regular poker night at my house with five of the boys. I was the only female, as usual. It was a $20 buy in. I had only $40 in cash because I knew if I had more than that, it would probably be gone by the end of the night. At first, my money just slowly drained away until I only had about $10 left. I won a couple of big hands and was up. Way up. I didn’t count, because as Kenny Rogers wisely tells us, “You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”
By the end of the night, I ended up with $8 of my original $20 stake. I considered that a win. I didn’t spend the other $20 to buy more chips and I still had some money left of my buy-in. I’d like to tell you that I walked away with $8 because I knew “when to run,” but really, I walked away because everyone else went home. If they had been up for it, I would have continued playing until I was playing on IOUs. That’s the mindset of an addict.
Being an addict isn’t much fun. The problem is that you never quite know what you’ll be addicted to next. I’ll never smoke crack again, but what about Borderlands or Mahjong or Candy Crush Saga? Those kind of addictions can be almost as bad.
I have to manage my addictions. I allow myself 40 ounces of coffee a day, but never after 3 pm. I allow myself to play stupid games on my phone, but only during breaks at work. I allow video games, but only on the weekends after all my other chores are done.
Addiction is a lifelong struggle and we have to be ever vigilant lest an addiction slip into our lives unnoticed in a form we didn’t expect.
Hi, my name is Goldfish and I’m an addict.