Many years ago, I was a voracious eater of non-vegetarian food, but all that food made me sick. I gave it up.
I loved eating rice and could polish off two-three platefuls at a time. It made me very lethargic and lazy. I gave it up.
A box of mithai, received during weddings and festivals,became my territory. After others had a piece each there was an unspoken agreement that the rest would be eaten by me. And that too, within the next couple of hours. This was beginning to tell upon my girth and so this too I gave up.
Whenever a discussion took place about losing weight or giving up smoking/drinking, I had the ultimate solution to it, which I offered sanctimoniously: Just stop doing it.I had the answer to all addictions and felt very pleased with myself.
But such pompousness on the part of us human beings only invites the Universe to laugh at us, especially when we think we have learnt our lessons and have become masters. And more so, when the learning involves a lesson that advocates avoidance.
The Universe thus brought me to Facebook (FB).
Once, at an extended-family gathering, my son said something funny. I laughed and making air quotes, I commented “like”. The youngsters smirked and the elders scowled. But I was hooked on FB. Before that my opinion about FB was that it was a place where people with tons of spare time lovingly harvested virtual crops, sometimes even at 3:30 in the morning. But, I justified my presence on FB to myself - I was here because as the NaNoWriMo ML, I needed to be on Facebook to be in touch with more wrimos.
On my very first day on FB I saw a question-update posted by a ‘friend’ and I decided to answer it (I can never let a question go unanswered even if the answer might be in the form of a question).
A sort of intellectually-interesting Q&A session ensued. In the middle of the discussion I even googled a bit of information, to be sure my facts were correct and that I was not making a fool of myself. This was an eye-opener. So, FB was not just about virtual farming. Or angsty birds. It was about words. Some people put up fascinating updates and some put up amazing pictures of cats. And there was a plethora of quotes from writers dead and alive. It was a sapiosexual’s dream world.
Like a kid in a candy store I visually, mentally, emotionally devoured those amazing articles, those fabulous pictures, those updates. Some of these I loved, some I hated, some made me think, some made me angry and even made my cry. There was never a dull moment on FB. Hours, days, months flew by.
I was in love.
The words filled a void inside me that I never knew existed. It was a world that I felt I belonged to. I was in the grip of the words and I lived to read them. They were the first things I opened my eyes to in the morning and the last things I saw before going to bed. I began to crave them, every moment. The newsfeed had become a nurturer of sorts. I was lost inside a world that was more real, more beautiful, more connected. A diary entry from that time tells me now that I had become an FB-addict.
But wait! If this was an addiction I had the formula for getting over it. I just had to just give it up, right? But for the first time ever, I hesitated. You either hated FB or loved it. You could not ignore it. Like the million of FB-ites all over the world, I too became a statistic. The Universe got into the act and did what I should have done but was too obsessed to do. The withdrawal was inevitable and cold turkey was a sense of desolation so strong that it felt like it would kill me.
Giving up FB completely was not an option at all, for obvious reasons. But the addiction had to be got over. Restricted use of FB might have worked but like all other rehabs it demanded superhuman quantity of willpower. The better alternative was to cultivate one’s creative self. Addictions actually happen when we avoid doing the creative work because we are afraid /overwhelmed/ think it will be very hard. Sustained avoidance actions (such as overindulgence in eating/drinking/Facebooking) cause addictions.
Addictions are also an offshoot of lack of self-love. Complete acceptance of oneself is a must. As Rob Brezsny says, in his book,‘Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia’:
“Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don't love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.”
I set up new habits. My creative self now comes first. Is it as easy as it sounds? NO!
I trip often, I become weak. I still wake up, and go to bed, in search of the words. And there are days when the craving becomes utterly unbearable. That is when I realize that I am, once again, neglecting my creative self. And that it’s time again for some self-love.