Tag Archive for addiction

True Confessions of a “Like” oholic

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I’ve never smoked crack, shot heroin or drank alcohol, but I have an addiction. Out of nowhere, it snuck up on me. Like the abrupt discovery of a fast-moving cancer, I realized, “Houston, we got a problem.”   

I’m a likeoholic and it’s crazy because just 10 years ago I was the woman who didn’t want a cell phone. “I don’t need one,“ I’d  argue. And then I became the one clinging to her flip phone, complete with basic service. “No I don’t send or receive text messages,” I’d say, to the shock of the hearer.  

Honestly, it was sheer bliss living in my cave next door to the Flintstones.  Who cared if the rest of the world tweeted, texted, or shared cyber messages across America?  I was content in the dark, until I tasted the 21st century, and liked it.

The progression was slow. First I upgraded to a smartphone, with a little Facebook stalking. But things began to snowball at the beginning of this year. I started a blog, and social media is a must-have if you’re a blogger, right?

And being the chronically type A female that I am, I dove into the deep end like Michael Phelps: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, oh my! I soon found myself looking like the rest of the world, with smart phone glued to one hand, and the opposite finger habitually scrolling through feeds in the other. I gotta update my status, need to upload a pic, and comment on that photo. Don’t forget the hashtags.  

Did I get any comments today? How many likes? Yes I got a few shares. Like a cyber junkie I now had thoughts competing for real estate in my brain that had never lived in the neighborhood before.

Now don’t get me wrong, as much as I love to see those numbers rise next to that little Facebook thumb, a part of me misses the simpler days. Nostalgic times when phones were used for conversation are becoming a reality of the past. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that long ago.  

And as far as I know there is no 12 step program for likeoholics; it’s a socially acceptable addiction. If someone sat in Starbucks snorting cocaine onlookers would call 911 immediately. In contrast, if every customer sat fixated on their phones for 12 hours straight no one would say a word.

We are a nation perpetually responding to the positive stimuli of social media. Like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the sound of a bell, we get an internal sensation every time we receive a like.  And there is no emergency intervention or mandatory rehab; the responsibility of self control lies with the individual. I have to police myself.  

To which I reply, “Whaaat?!”  With most things, I start out like a horse at the races, boldly proclaiming, “I’m gonna work out, watch what I eat, and be disciplined.” Often I find myself back where I started.

I am convinced the source of my sobriety lies in the why and the what. Why am I addicted?  What am I receiving from this post-like-obsession?  If I’m honest I must admit, it’s affirming to be liked.

We congregate on our pages like teens in high school asking with every update, picture, and post, “Do you like me?” Playing the one-up-game, we compete to see whose vacation, latest accomplishment, and foodie pic is better than everyone else. And depending on the response we receive, there is the potential to become a little puffed up with our cyberspace letterman jackets.

Sometimes I get caught up in it all. But there is a voice of truth gently speaking through the crowded World Wide Web. God, whose opinion trumps all others, says I liked you in your mother’s womb. If you never post another picture, update your status, hashtag or tweet, I will still love you.

We live in a world demanding performance in order to maintain our status of cool, hip, and liked. Yet, all the while we are trying to get affirmation from man we are already accepted by God. Independent from anything we do or say, He deems us valuable, loved, worthy, and important. So the next time I’m tempted to count my likes may I remember I’m loved and liked by God.

When We Find Life in Leaving

phillywiss (17)

Standing over the stove, you can tell she’s in her element. The woman can cook.

She may not be able to recite the recipe exactly, and may have to tell you in three separate phone calls the revisions to the recipe, but cooking is her love language. That and waking up at 5 am to make sure your pants were hemmed when you needed them.

Service has always been the way she supported.

You see her there, dicing the onions, and her hands look tired and worn.  She’s done the work of a hundred men in her time, I’m sure of it. Never met another woman who could do what she’s done; raising five kids, keeping a 6,000 square foot house and owning a clothing business. That’s nothing to thumb your nose at.

Sometimes it feels like she’s a million miles away and she probably is; her story is a beautiful and a broken one. Filled with so much loss and leaving, when you hear about it, it makes your heart feel a physical pain. Most folks don’t know what to do with that pain.

I want to honor her pain by recognizing the way she has fought to show up to her life.

They’re not sure what to tell a woman who started out in this country already misplaced. A refugee from Budapest, her family was supposed to head to Washington D.C. Instead, the government sent them to Washington State. Her stories of feeling “wrong” from the start, with her accent and pierced ears, always did make me think differently about my peers who felt like they were on the “outside.”

They’re not sure what to tell a woman who lost a brother and almost a mom to suicide. Not sure what to tell her when they find out that alcoholism runs in the family and losing twin siblings in a fire must be tough. Not sure what to tell her about depression and anxiety that rears its head often.  Not sure what to tell her about the way her family was ripped apart when her marriage ended.

They’re just not sure.

And, she’d tell you honestly, she has a lot to account for in her life. Years of her own drinking and perfectionism that hurt her and our family. You can tell the moments when she’s sitting with this pain, and how obvious it is that she feels it in her core.

But still, she’s here.

By the grace of God, she still shows up to her life. Even in the most painful moments, when I’m sure she wanted to run away, she has continued to show up.

She talked about the strength it has taken to leave addiction behind.

I remember when she began going to AA meetings on a regular basis. When she took ownership of her addiction and things began to change. I remember what it felt like to start to trust her again, the slow unfurling of the knot that was in my stomach.

Just this year when she was visiting, she told me that it was her nine year anniversary of sobriety.

We sat with that a bit. Quiet, letting the reality of 9 years sink in. And then we talked about what a long road it’s been, still longer to go, yet. She talked about the strength it has taken, does take, to leave addiction behind; to feel the ache for the thing that numbs your pain and then choose to look forward instead of back.

And I just felt so grateful, for this woman who is a survivor in the best sense of the word. You can tell when someone has survived significant things in their life; there’s weightiness to them.  That’s what it’s like with my mom, you sit with her and you know. You feel that there is such a story there, begging to be told.

She has a lot more life to live, so many more meals to prepare. But I don’t want for her story to be forgotten. I want to honor her pain by recognizing the way she has fought to show up to her life, and to believe the truth of who God made her. I’m grateful for her legacy of perseverance in the face of daunting tragedy.

I’m grateful for what she’s left behind, so she can be here now.

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