Addictions come in all shapes, forms, guises and disguises, masquerading as health, mental well-being, orderliness, or full-blown acting out.
It's important to recognize an addiction not to punish yourself or counteract it with a different addiction, but to strive for freedom in your life; including freedom from the compulsion toward action that signifies addiction.
Last night I attended a small reunion of campers from when I was a child. It was a lovely, intimate gathering in a quiet-ish room in the back of a crowded and boisterous bar.
It had been so long since I had been to a bar in the middle of New York City that as I sat in my car (yes, I drove my own car in Manhattan and even found free parking!) waiting for it to warm up I couldn't stop staring at the swarms of people dressed in the highest heels and shortest skirts, the most dashing suits and polished hair, running in and out of cabs, rushing for the door of the bar, rushing to meet their friends, buy their drinks, dance on the dance floor.... I couldn't help but begin to make the connections in my mind between the exorbitant amounts of money they would spend on alcohol and the association it had for them about sex.
The hot bar, the hot clothes, the alcohol, the money spent, the sex had or not had, but posing, nevertheless, quite poised, should the opportunity arise. As I sat there observing, it felt like addiction to me.
This is not what makes our culture of spending go around, I thought, is it? Or isn't it? I thought of Las Vegas, of people glassy eyed, pulling the lever, pounding their coins into the machines while women in incredibly high heels and incredibly short skirts feed them alcohol.
The addiction/spending/sex cycle feeds a need for instant gratification that may cause the adrenaline to pump and feel exciting in the moment but which, ultimately, may fuel an emptiness that can't be filled or, worse, may destroy the very lives of the players.