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In April it will have been four years that I have not taken a drink. By this I mean, it's now August, so I am three years and four months into my life as a sober woman and sobriety has taught me more than I ever thought possible.
For one thing, it has taught me about addictions of all shapes and sizes. Struggling with the reality that it's difficult, if not impossible for me to just drink a little (some surround sound speaker system opens up in my brain which tells me to "get more" when the bottles are empty) has awakened me to all sorts of messages and mixed messages sent by this media saturated culture of ours when it comes to addictions to food, addictions to dieting and addictions to sex, drugs, and perfectionism.
The fact that obsessive, driven, extreme modes of operating and behaving are rewarded in our culture by the media (lots of attention for those at 80 pounds, and even more for those who die too soon) and our employers (staying late again! Good for you! No rest for a workaholic like you!) and even our families (he's on the soccer, football AND the debate team - plus he's taking AP Biology and applying to colleges early!) it's no wonder we become addicts in all types of ways.
Slowing down and taking stock of our actual feelings may mean less productivity, less extreme achievement or beauty or fitness, less extreme sports, less shiny hair, and, let's face it, the flip side of this coin may mean less nervous breakdowns, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and dysfunctional behaviors.
While the current economic crisis is deadly and devastating for so many of us, in certain ways it has forced us to examine our 1980's hangover from the addiction to speed, money, and easy spending. We are now sobering up, trying to get off the sauce of foreign oil, credit cards, big, fancy, gas guzzling cars and doing whatever we want, whenever we want.