I never know what to say when people talk about trading one addition for another addiction. Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? And if so, are people with addictive personalities attracted other extreme things to replace the initial addiction? If there is such a thing as trading one addition for another, can I run myself into happiness? Can I run until I reach total bliss and true enlightenment?
When I saw the other day that Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose, I have to be honest, I shrugged, oh well. I know that is horrible. Judge if you must, but addicts and alcoholics die all of the time, and if I wept every time one did, I don't think I would be able to function. A day or two later, I saw that that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had 22 years clean and sober. I must admit, this got to me. It scared me.
I'm really not that into movies, theater, or acting but I can relate to this addict. As a clean and sober human being, I understand the anxiety and depression that goes along with this brutal disease. I have known so many that have died from the disease of addiction. The key word is DISEASE. While one may have the initial choice to use alcohol or drugs, those that have the disease of addiction cannot stop. It is not a choice. They need help, support, and treatment. The treatment one receives can come in the form of a 12 step program, religion, therapy, whatever. I pray that those that need help get there quickly and with as little damage to themselves and others as possible.
Can a person enter the world of endurance and trade the original addiction for this new addiction? I think not. While I do buy into the idea of an addictive personality, trading addictions seems like a bunch of bullshit. I could run my brains out. I could run until I vomit and collapse. I am still a recovering alcoholic and addict. Nothing I will ever do during the entire course of my life will change this. I can abstain from alcohol and drugs. I can pray for a daily reprieve from the depression and anxiety that comes from this disease. But, no matter how long or how far I run, this disease it right at my heels. And the moment I believe that the disease is gone is the moment my life will go to hell.
Running and yoga have undoubtedly changed my life. I am so blessed to have the ability to engage in these activities at a very intense level. The demons that have shown themselves to me during exercise are brutal. Maybe that's why I run. I run to feel those demons. I run to leave them on the trails. I move through the pain rather than choose stagnation and death. Nothing I have ever felt while engaged in endurance sports comes close to the hell that I have survived. And that is what addiction is people. It is hell.
It took me many years to understand that to move through pain is to feel it. There is no other alternative. So, no, I have not replaced my addiction. I have found a way to feel. I have found a way to live. Fear is no longer an option. Avoiding fear, avoiding emotion, and attempting to control is like having a fist fight with the ocean. Swing away bitch. Keep swinging. How's it working for you? You need more? Ok. Still fighting? Sometimes I have to collapse to understand.
Again, please understand that addiction is a disease. I have chosen endurance sports as a way to live. I have been blessed with life. And life, for me, sometimes means pain. So, no… I haven't replaced the old addiction with a new one. I've used a new way of living to keep me from engaging in the futile existence I once knew.
Bottom line, if you need help, ask for it. Running is great, yoga is cool, but addiction can be deadly. If I can be of help in anyway, or just listen please reach out to me.