Sunday, April 05, 2009

Addiction in an April Blizzard

I love April blizzards.

Everything is in a rush toward summer: the grass greening, bulbs shooting up, the air softening. Then suddenly: a pause. Just for a moment. As soon as the snow stops falling, it melts, and the rush to summer is back on.

Yet, a pause…

Like the pause at the top and bottom of each breath. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. (If you’ve never paid enough attention to your breath to experience the pause, try it.)

For a moment the rush of breath is still. In that moment, there is nothing to do. Nothing to get. Nothing to release. Only rest. Only openness.

Only surrender.

“Take pause.” That’s what my friend says, the one who is holding my hand as I climb up from my reading/internet/video addiction. She says, “Take pause, and just notice" - The first and second tools of recovery.

This friend knows from addiction.

I first told her about mine last September. I said I knew it was destroying me, and I wanted to tell someone. But I had absolutely no intention of giving it up and didn’t want to hear anything about that.

She said, "You don’t have to start by giving anything up. Just pay attention. What does it feel like when you first move toward using? What is going on around you? What messages are you telling yourself? What does it feel like when you are using: in the beginning, and then as your lack of control becomes apparent? How do you feel afterwards? What messages do you tell yourself?”

“You don’t have to do anything else right now,” she added, “Just notice.”

After six months of noticing - and a horrendous two-week, 24/7, reading binge - I was finally ready to quit.

Then my friend offered tool #2. When I felt that desire to use, even if I’d already decided to go for it, just pause for a moment.

Just pause.

Even for the briefest of moments, put off acting on the desire. And continue to notice.

That helped. It really helped.

A Sunday morning blizzard in April: time to take pause. And notice.

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