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June 30 • Breathing Problems

Day 722

Trying to explain my addiction to the unconvinced is a difficult task that I do not often attempt. Even discussing addiction in the abstract with someone who has never experienced it is many times a fool's errand.

I do not claim to have found the insight that has been eluding the world for generations. But I have stumbled upon a way of considering my addiction that speaks to that part of me that still hesitates when I approach the 'A' word.

I am not addicted to milkshakes, but now and then, the thought of that frozen delight crossing my tongue sounds like it's the only thing that will satisfy me. Most of the time, that moment passes long before I find a place to take care of my desire. Every time, whether I get my mouth wrapped around a milkshake or not, when the moment is passed so is the sense that I need it.

When I was acting out, letting my mind cross a line of thinking about sex would set in motion a series of events that would only be resolved by a sexual act. It rarely took more than a day to make it happen, but the more I would fight it and the longer it would linger, the sharper and more demanding this compulsion would become. And if the act were not satisfying, the need would only increase in intensity and domination of my conscious thoughts, until I would again give in by visiting one of my go-to places, an Emergency Room of sorts.

I've been wondering whether to add oxygen to my list of addictions. When I hold my breath, as I used to do in a variety of silly children's competitions, I know that after a minute or two, my body starts letting me know that I need to stop this and breathe. So I take a big gulp of air and get on with life. When I began training for my scuba diving certification, I found myself playing those games underwater. When under the sea, I do not have the option of a big gulp and going on. My body is screaming at me, telling me that I am going to die if I don't take a breath, but I also know that if I inhale before reaching the surface or getting my lips around a regulator attached to tanks, death still awaits in the seawater that will fill my lungs. The only good option is to get to the surface at a safe speed and breathe in the God-given oxygen.

That is as good of an analogy as I can remember that describes what I was feeling. As surely as my body was telling me I needed air, my mind was telling me I needed sexual activity. The deeper I sank into addiction, the more I considered breathing it all in without any effort to surface, knowing the risk of self-destruction was imminent.

Note: I just went back and read what I've written. I doubt that this entry will add to the conversation of explaining addiction, and I am disappointed in my inability to write in profound perfection on the subject. However, the waves of memories are crashing on the shore of my recovery as I am carried back to those days of helplessness by these descriptions that still seem fresh. In a rare experience, they even draw me in for some reason. It feels like comfort, but it smells like my addict trying to make the scent of shit fill my nostrils with the aroma of roses. Damn, he's clever.

I'm not through trying to find better words to describe swimming in the abyss, but I'm through for today. I need to breathe.



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