Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time To Revisit Addiction. Yes, Mine.

Around this time for the last many years, I have communicated in some fashion about how 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 years ago, I stood in a cold garage with Tina Katz, cigarette and wine glass in hand, and told her that I needed to quit drinking. She cried. I cried. And a month later, by some miracle and with the help of a 12-Step Program, I did it. 

Since then, I have worked diligently to uncover all the slippery slopes in mind that tell me that what I am doing is normal, no big deal, everyone does it. I believed monstrous lies about myself for years so I am aware that I can be easily cajoled into messed-up thinking by my desirous, sneaky narrative-maker.

I also spend a ton of time analyzing that which keeps us in stuck and unhappy patterns. I study movement, somatics, neuroscience and trauma therapy. I work in real time with people who trust me to see their best self and help them move into it. I am considered an educator in this realm. 

I have been reporting for the last year about the effects of dopamine on the system. Dopamine releases in the body when we seek a reward, something pleasurable. Opiods are released when we get the thing we wanted, the reward itself. Current research shows that we are shifting toward wanting the want; that we are becoming increasingly addicted to merely being in search of pleasure.

Facebook, texting, tweeting, emails all fall into the category of dopamine driving activities. And the more information we seek, the faster we seek it and the tinier the pieces and parts get, the more excited we get. I can feel it in my own system when I am waiting for Facebook messages to load or to see a new text message. My breath stops, my brain goes pleasurably numb and I am no longer in the here and now. I am in the world of "Something Exciting Might Be About To Happen." And while I have loved every little bit of info you have given me in the last year, by text or status update or checking "like," nothing transformative has occurred. In fact, I am pretty sure I am devolving.

Since I live alone and am a writer (meaning I spend a shit ton of time staring at the computer), I have spent the last year justifying an INSANE amount of time clicking around on Facebook. I can barely finish reading an article without thinking about posting it. Truth be told, I can barely finish an article. I went back to re-read a few articles about dopamine and addiction and my eyes blurred out after two paragraphs. TWO PARAGRAPHS.

And while I love looking at your babies and your wedding photos and your hilarious updates (for real, some of you are breathtakingly funny), I know it doesn't mean that I really know anything about you. And vice versa. I like to present a cheery disposition online because, in general, that is the truth. But I can't tell you how many times I've been told, "I know what you are up to from Facebook." And I have felt dispirited by that, lonely even. I am crafting a version of me for you to see but it is a marketing-oriented avatar. It doesn't tell you anything of how I really truly feel. I doesn't speak to the vast spaces of time in which my lonely avatar watches your lonely avatar, sharing what we ate for breakfast rather than what we lost or yearn for. 

More important, I can feel my mind beginning to fragment in frightening ways. Words come out of my mouth that I didn't intend. Names are hard for me to remember. Meditation is helping me to be more present but to what? 

I so badly want to write a few more things that matter and this does not mean status updates. I so badly want to connect deeply and meaningfully with people, to make a difference in the lives of others. And I am as certain today as I was 15 years ago that I have to make a profound and fast shift in my day-to-day habits.

So I gotta gotta gotta get this monkey off my back. I am trying to figure out if I have to go cold turkey for a time or if I can regulate my online time. There is stuff I want you to know - True Body Project events, etc. And when I am in Asia in a month, I will want to look in on what is happening back home and tell you about my work in Cambodia and Indonesia.

(And I just want to report that the idea of posting this and not being able to check back over and over again to see who "liked" it or even read it makes me feel like crying. This is not a good sign.)

But I know the power of saying the words out loud, speaking the truth. So I say them here to you and you and you.

I have a problem. I need to spend more time offline than on. I need to work to preserve the quality of my mind and re-value my time so that I may continue to grow and help others. 

I will let you know how it goes, via these longer form posts. And for now, I'm hoping I don't have to quit the brave new world of social media forever. I just have to get my act together. I'll let you know what that looks like!!


  1. Well, I read it and was impressed with your clarity of intellectual thought. Clearly, when something no longer serves you in a positive way, it's an addiction. Hell, it's an addiction all along but we only turn the corner once the negatives REALLY get our attention. So here's your comment. I hope I'm not being an enabler ;P