The simple answer is, it's addiction if you have done this behavior before to ease the pain. What pain? Any pain. We all carry it. We all have leftover hurts from childhood we wish that our parents would have taken care of for us. But they didn't. That left them in our hands... our young, innocent, barely functioning hands. 'Cause let's be honest - decisions we made about how things work or how to fix things that we made at the age of 16 could easily be classified as totally ignorant of how the world really works. It might seem like the right idea at the time.... but then as you get older, you have to come to terms with the fact the behavior you're doing to ease the pain is in and of itself a problem!
Welcome to addiction.
You know, it's easy to spot addiction when it's right out there. Nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs. Those are all no-brainers, right? Anybody could spot those without a magnifying glass. But what about other behaviors? Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Addiction to food. Addiction to sex. Addiction to exercise? A little more difficult to pin down at first glance. A lot of these things are normal and even great behaviors we all do as humans. It's when they cross the line that they become trouble.
So what's a good definition of that? Well, in my mind, an addiction is any behavior you do compulsively, over and over, expecting to result in your ultimate happiness - aka, to "cure" you of your pain - and you throw yourself into it without caution, without conscious, rational thought, and it's like someone else is driving the bus.
Well when you're in the grips of a compulsive behavior there IS someone else driving the bus. It's you, but it's a younger, more hurt, more scared, part of you that is replaying a tape from long ago, crossing its fingers and hoping that this time it will work, this time you get what is you really NEED.
People look to all sorts of outside sources for a "cure." Food, shopping, booze, running, sex, stealing, etc. All these items are outside of oneself. Here's the bad news: they'll never fill the hole inside you. YOU are the only one that can fill it. YOU have to do it yourself. Rhianna wrote a song about trying to fill that hole and how she realized it was her problem and her hole to fill.
That's a downer you say? Yeah, it can be, if you take the time to understand who you let the drive the bus for so long. Your younger self. Not the older, wiser, adult one. No. That's not how it works. The older, wiser adult gets pushed in the background because the NEED to cure the PAIN is so damn great.
Let's face it. We're scared of our pain. Scared it will bowl us over and lease us shattered, empty and broken. But the truth is, we're already all those things. We just aren't dealing with it. We're slapping on a bandage that can't possibly contain it, hoping and praying for a miracle this time. But this time is just like last time. And realizing that is the way out.
Happiness lies outside the circle. You have to make it yourself, but at least it's yours. It's not the fake happiness your fourteen or six or eleven year-old self thinks it deserves. It's a more whole, more controlled, more stable happiness that perhaps doesn't glow quite so brightly, but at least doesn't continue to make the hole bigger.
More on addiction later,