Since writing my previous posts about how I believe my addictions are linked to my personal traits and foibles (great word foibles, worthy of Miranda Hart), I’ve been thinking more about how I am and how I was and how this influenced my drinking and drug use.
The character trait I’ve been thinking about most is greed, what Merriam-Webster defines as ‘a selfish desire to have more of something (especially money)’. Money was never a big one with me, except in so far as I needed money to get what I wanted (needed?) But I was always greedy, at least from as far back as I can remember – greedy for toys, for sweets, for anything that gave me pleasure. And I’m still that way. I have an e-reader and I’m forever looking for new books to read, even though I’ve got more than I can read in a lifetime. The same with music, or podcasts. What I want is all of it, all the music, the books, the podcasts the ……. Well, you get the drift.
So I was thinking about how greed and my addictions fitted together and I see that, in my addictions, I was always greedy. I can remember spending evenings at a friend’s house where we would sit around sharing a joint. Where other people would be satisfied with a few smokes I wanted more. The same with alcohol; I was a greedy drinker, trying to suck as much Carlsberg Special or vodka or whatever I could get hold of down my throat, at least until the shakes and the terrors eased off. But I suspect that addicts generally are greedy, although I can only speak for myself.
It was as though I could never get enough, even though I would usually fall into a drunken stupor. Then when I came round I’d be off again, looking for more, more, more.
There’s a little voice in my head that tells me, ‘more is better’. I’ve never understood moderation in relation to pleasure. It’s that classic saying that if one is good then ten’s going to be ten times as good.
Today things are different. I’ve still got that little voice now and again and I can still go on an e-book or music binge but it doesn’t take over like it did. I have things in my life which moderate the urge, things like family, responsibilities, self respect and the need to be contributing to life not taking from it.
I’m not perfect. Far from it. I don’t think I actually got rid of one character defect. The difference is that the character defects are no longer in charge. I’ve often had the thought that what’s changed is that, when I was in active addiction the addiction was running things and the healthy part of my personality was locked away inside somewhere, occasionally wondering, ‘How did I end up here. I’m a nice person’. Whereas now it’s the other way round with the addictive, selfish, dishonest part locked away inside. But, it’s like a friend of mine, also a recovering addict, is fond of saying about addiction, ‘It’s like a sleeping tiger. If you’re not careful it will have your head off’. Nice thought.
Here are links to my other posts on addiction