Life After Divorce . . . Addicted Versus Desired

By Lindy Earl

To what can you become addicted?  Obviously to some drugs and alcohol.  Caffeine is a drug and I believe one can become addicted to coffee, maybe even chocolate.  On a lesser basis, maybe you can even become addicted to sugar.

What about video games?  There are studies that show the same brain activity evolves when one is playing some video games that emerges during some drug use.

What might some of your family or friends suggest?  Could you be addicted to attention, or television, or exercise, or spending money?  I wonder if some of these things are just desires, or are they addictions?

Not being in the medical field, I cannot surmise what may or may not be true.  Having known people who have had addictions, I do have some questions.

My first would be, what is your response if the action of choice, for instance shopping, is withheld?  You probably won’t suffer physiological withdrawal symptoms, but you might get irritated or even angry.  If you’re used to a large amount of exercise, and find yourself unable to perform typical exercise, I can see that your energy would need to be expended in other ways.

I have also known people who, when they are trying to walk away from an addiction, turn to other, less dangerous addictions. For instance, I know people who stop smoking, but end up gum chewers at the risk of their jaw and teeth.  Seriously, I have seen people deal with TMJ and dental issues due to their gum chewing.  Other people, as they quit smoking, gain weight.

Sometimes, you are forced into stopping, such as when a person leaves you.  I think getting over a break up can be as difficult and devastating as getting over an addiction.

My question is, whether it is a desire or an addiction, if you want to get over something, what should you do?  Here are my thoughts:

Do not go it alone.  There are so many people who have been through exactly what you’re dealing with now.  Make up your mind to be humble, not brave.  Decide to put yourself out there and talk to others when you need a shoulder.

Find a support group, a friend, or an accountability partner.  While you need someone to talk to, you don’t want to tell everyone you know about your situation.  Find a few SAFE people, or small group, and share your story, making sure you are willing to listen to and apply the advice you receive.

Set up a reward or punishment system, whatever works better for you.  If a treat at the end of the week will help you on your journey, then choose something small and reward yourself.  If, however, you do better with the threat of punishment, then prepare for extra exercise or whatever system you choose to use.

Give yourself a break. You need time and compassion and should find these from yourself as well as others.  You are not the first to have this happen.  It didn’t happen because you are a bad person, or silly, or anything else that you hear yourself saying in the middle of the night.  Bad things happen to good people.  Forgive yourself and move on.

Give yourself time.  You did not get into this overnight and you won’t get over it overnight.  Allow yourself time to heal.  In my case, after three years of being divorced my best friend put me on a dating site.  I went kicking and screaming but it was the beginning of my healing.  It would not have worked if I had tried it any sooner.  I needed the time to heal alone before I could be any good in a dating situation.

Know that you are in control and are stronger than the issue you are facing.  That’s right!  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. You’re going to be okay.  Remind yourself as often as you need to hear it.

Whether we are discussing a broken marriage or romance, a lost job, or a serious addiction such as alcohol or porn, you need to first recognize the difference between desire and addiction. If you just want it, that sounds like desire to me (a non-medical, non-professional).  If you find yourself in mood swings and withdrawal symptoms, you may need to consult someone.  If you find yourself really losing it, call someone immediately!

Once you acknowledge the challenge, you can take steps to change things.  You might use the list above or seek other sources.  The point remains, you are in control of yourself and your future.  You can do this.

That’s life after divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

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