I started writing this post in my car while stuck between two countries. I mention this because I think it’s appropriate given that today’s post is about addiction.
Addiction is a borderland.
Yesterday, I was hit by three different iterations of addiction. The first was a friend who keeps losing themselves in their relationships and sex. The second was a family member unable to stop using drugs.
The third was me being reminded—as I often am by other addicts—of my past struggles with self-harm.
Addiction is a borderland. It’s a liminal space where time becomes non-linear and there are no sharp edges to hold onto.
I forget sometimes that I am an addict. That I will always be an addict. I go for such long stretches of time feeling stable that it now catches me off guard when something shifts.
Yesterday something shifted. Combined with the other two conversations I was having, I spun out in a way that I haven’t in a while. All the anger I have been working on processing in micro-doses came rushing back.
Only unlike previous times, I was able to listen to my anger.
There was all of the heat but none of the self-destruction.
Anger shows up when we need a temporary boundary. It’s a stand-in in moments when we feel unsafe or threatened. The practice is not to ignore anger; it’s to listen to the boundary it’s asking us to set.
Addiction is a borderland. It’s always accessible which means that it is a daily practice to not let yourself cross back over.
And it gets easier.
It gets easier when we learn to ask for help. When we accept that healing is not a solitary act but a community one.
When we give ourselves time to process our emotions. And sit through the discomfort of wanting so badly to indulge our desires, harmful as they might be.
It gets easier when we can turn to our craft—in my case, writing—for solace and clarity instead of to the myriad of numbing mechanisms available to us. We could spend our whole lives running from what feels unbearable if we wanted to.
We have that option.
Addiction is a borderland. You also have the option of choosing to rebuild the boundaries that separate you from this no man’s land.
To start now and start today.
To reach out to someone who might be able to help.
To leave what’s no longer working even if what will work is unclear.
Addiction is a borderland. And it’s not where you need to be stuck anymore.
So where do your addictions stop and you begin?