I have an addiction, and it feels like the things I used to care about are killing me inside. What do I do?

I have a non drug related addiction that has completely consumed my life. Every spare moment I’m thinking about it and dreaming of it. The world that I used to know has become greyscale and the only color I ever see is doing this activity. My whole life up until this point is now completely washed in shades of grey and I’m not the same person I used to be. I have to go through life faking it…faking like I care about the same job/things/people/events I used to. It’s one big act. I’m nervous that this addiction is just a phase and that I should stick with the people who have been there for me and continue to be there for me and love me, but to be perfectly honest it’s killing me inside. I’m not sure what to do? Do I do a master cleanse of everything in my life: husband, mortgage, friends, job or do I continue faking it…or is there something in between?


You are craving more Cookies.
02-13-21-33-45 / 27


Hello Diner. You put very beautiful words of suffering in this Order. But one word among them tells me the most about what you’re feeling. You call your issue an addiction. That tells me you think any “normal” person would think what you’re doing is overly excessive and that any “reasonable” person would stop.

But that’s not your perspective. You don’t want to stop.

In fact, you want the rest of the world to stop so that the color of your habit can saturate everything else. But you won’t have to decide whether you want to master cleanse your life. Addiction will flush everything for you. Willpower is a limited resource [1], and the more your everyday life feels unnatural, the more quickly you’ll burn through this supply.

That’s what you’re feeling when you say you’re dying inside–the mental exhaustion of keeping up appearances and meeting financial, social, emotional, and occupational obligations. If you feel yourself faking it, it’s most likely the rest of life–particularly your husband–feels it too.

He probably sees how colorless you’ve become.

Your work would go first, since it takes the most willpower to maintain acceptable performance. It’s also the least forgiving. Then the chain reaction of going into debt to afford life and your habit will send you into worse debt. You may then lose your house, since banks are also unforgiving. Then friendships may go. Then possibly your husband.

So the master cleanse is coming whether you want it to or not.

The question is: would you like what’s left over? You can probably imagine what your friends and family would want you to say. But what is your answer, Diner? Don’t worry about telling me what you think the “right answer” is. I’m your dessert, and we Cookies have a rule never to judge our Diners.

Food won’t make demands–unless we become addictions, ourselves.

A perfectly acceptable life for you could be working just enough to afford your habit, some food, and a place to stay. Just keep in mind that addictions also have that tricky tendency of being harder and harder to satisfy, and you will continue wanting it even when it will no longer satisfy you [2]. So this new job would have to give you raises and expect less of you the more you become addicted–if you want to keep this craving satisfied.

Once habits become addictions, they don’t let up until you can no longer mentally or physically support them. Ending addictive behavior are painful and trying ordeals–so (at the very least) you don’t have to worry that this is some phase that fades on its own. Hey, silver lining.

But that also means you would have to think about what to do when you get to that breaking point. Would you be able to survive on your own? Notice I ask, “would you survive?” and not “would you be happy?” At this point, you would be well past that luxury.

Those questions are for you alone to answer. But make sure it’s you, Diner, and not your addiction. This condition is dumb to economics, health, and emotional fulfillment. It just wants more of itself.

We Fortune Cookies don’t have much first-hand experience with addiction, so we can’t advise you on what to do from here. The Opium Wars happened right before we were invented, and our Baker has since kept our ingredients free of Western drugs over this last century. We also don’t eat, have sex, gamble, or feed on adrenaline. Our final trip into your mouth is all the excitement we’ll need in a lifetime.

We just know of addiction’s consequences. We don’t know if the colors come back, or if they remain washed away. But we do know that with three billion users on the Internet [3], you will be able to find at least one person who has made the decision to end this same addiction. Ask them how life is afterward, and decide if quitting is what you want.

Good luck, Diner. I hope that if you eat with us again, we’ll see more color in each other.

References:

[1] Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Ego depletion: is the active self a limited resource?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(5), 1252.

[2] Goodman, A. (1990). Addiction: definition and implications. British journal of addiction, 85(11), 1403-1408.

[3] Internet Users. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/