There is addiction in my family.
I have known this my entire life. My dad’s parents were alcoholics and then both stopped drinking entirely and now that whole side of the family is kind of born-again and nobody drinks at all. My dad isn’t an alcoholic, but is an addict, just to a different substance. When I was younger, I was afraid to ever taste alcohol (and have still never done the substance Dad is/was addicted to) because I was afraid that just a little bit would turn into a lot and I’d never be able to stop.
I know this is why I never started drinking coffee or anything else with caffeine, and I bet it’s saved me a lot of money over the years. And maybe this is why I never started smoking (though I’ve also always thought it was gross, smelled bad, and expensive, not to mention the health isssues). Again, I was always afraid that the addict genes would express themselves. Luckily, on the other side I have relatives that both smoked and drank for years and gave up smoking with no problem (and now drink only lightly). It’s like an anti-addict set of genes or something.
There have been times in my life when I KNEW I was addicted to something. Luckily, those things have never been particularly destructive. One time, I realized I was addicted to grapefruits – I’d gotten in the habit of eating one every day after school, and so I told myself I had to stop. Man, did I ever want a grapefruit for several days. I even itched a little bit. For grapefruit! Another time, I won a Super Nintendo in a contest and only ever played the game that came with it (we couldn’t afford more games), and after a while I realized I was addicted to playing it, so much so in fact that I had calluses on my thumbs and couldn’t sit in front of the TV (even just watching regular TV) without holding the controller in my hand and playing with it. The day I realized it, I stopped playing the game and never played any video games again. I was too afraid of getting hooked.
These days, I try to be more moderate in my behavior and watch for signs of addiction or habituation on a regular basis. I habituate really easily though, and for me it feels like the first step of addiction – like if I have a drink in the evening a couple of days in a row, I feel that I must skip a day or two so I don’t get USED to drinking. I hate it when the words “I need a drink” come out of my mouth, which almost never happens, and sounds innocuous, but I’m really afraid of addiction, so I always try to amend it to, “a drink would be really nice” or something. And I know I’m at least halfway addicted to the gym, though if I’m going to have an addiction at least it’s a healthy one. I go almost every work day (4-5 days a week, usually 5) and since the weather has been so cold I’ve even been going in on a weekend day just to get out of the house and get some exercise.
Last night I lay in the bed and my legs hurt from pushing myself really hard at the gym the last few days, and I told the Hulk that I wasn’t going today, just to give myself a rest. But all day today, especially since about 1 PM, I’ve been itching – I have been working out in the mid-afternoon this month to avoid as much of the January resolutioners as possible – by 5 PM the place is PACKED. And Hulk and I have some stuff planned for the evening. On the weekends when I don’t work out, it doesn’t bother me so much because I’m distracted by other stuff. But on a weekday? I don’t know if I can do it. I brought my gym stuff with me because it’s always in my bag I take to work that has the laptop sleeve. I almost didn’t eat my lunch when I was hungry so I could go work out first. But in the end, the rational, intellectual part of me knows I need a break if my muscles are this sore and the scared of addiction part of me knows I need a day off so I can prove that I’m not addicted to working out.
Maybe I’ll just do an exercise video at home.