Choice in the Matter.
People ask me all the time about the level of discipline it takes for me to go from my normal weight of 150 to my competition weight of 135 every single year.
And tell them that the only discipline I have is to not buy the shit I’m not supposed to be eating when I shop for groceries.
If it’s not in the house. I can’t eat or drink it.
If it’s in the house odds are I’m eating it and I’m drinking it.
Simple as that.
Okay, keep that in mind while I switch gears a bit...
There’s something interesting about the people in my life...
And it’s that a lot of them, especially the ones closest to me are either in recovery or were touched by addiction in other ways.
The man I look to as my meditation guru for almost ten years, Noah Levine, has been in recovery for decades.
The woman I chose to be my yoga teacher (and I’m honored to be her student) Stephanie Snyder has been in recovery for decades.
Before I even knew what narcotics were I attended narcotics anonymous, originally as part of my degree program.
But I somehow felt even then, before my first sip of whiskey, before my first Percocet that those were my people
To admit and acknowledge the struggle and the suffering took a courage and a level of personal responsibility I had not previously known.
As difficult as some of the stories were to hear, the strength it took to make it to that meeting to tell that same story was just as present. And in the midst of all that suffering I could leave a meeting feeling empowered.
But then I took my first sip of whiskey, popped my first Percocet and for a while I thought that for as long as I could get them I’d take them.
Because every now and then I sometimes stop in the middle of something (never at the track though) and think “a (insert drug of choice here) would be nice right now”
For absolutely no reason at all.
Other than I still occasionally crave them after NOT having any at all for a very long time.
I have a friend who’s 37, never had a drink, never took drugs (outside the occasional ibuprofen). Because of a history of addiction in his family.
Which claimed the life of his father.
He picked up my just opened bottle of wine, examined the label, smelled it...
Put it to his lips...
And I lost my damn mind.
I snatched the bottle.
Screamed “what have you done! What did you do! Why!?”
Ever calm, he grabs my shoulder and says “hey I only pretended to drink it! See?”
And he shows me that old thumb over the opening trick.
I calmed a little but still walked back to the bottle
And poured it down the drain.
Now it was his turn to be shocked.
“I’m not going to be the reason you develop a problem.” I said.
“You can’t be”, he responds “it’s my choice”
Which opened an interesting discussion. He said that he used to believe that he didn’t have a choice and that the only thing keeping him from addiction is NOT ever opening the door at all by not drinking and not taking drugs.
But that’s changed for him. He said he no longer believes that to be the case. He now believes that having a drink or taking a drug is a choice, every single time you do it.
Therefore, according to him, developing an addiction is a choice.
Maintaining the addiction is a choice.
I asked about the role genetic predisposition plays in drug addiction, but his stance remained the same.
Honestly, I don’t know where I fall on this issue.
I told him that I thought the reason I haven’t had any narcotics or Xanax is not because I’m making an active choice to not indulge but because I can’t get them.
But he explained that I’m smart and resourceful and if I really wanted them I could figure out how to get them.
Which I guess is true.
So that means...I’m choosing not to feed the craving.
But when I was feeding the addiction it didn’t feel like a choice, it felt like I was on autopilot with coordinates set to the bathroom cabinet
That held the bottle,
That held the pills,
That quelled the storm.
Walking away from an addiction is for sure a choice, an ongoing one...
But is being an addict a choice to?
Or is it a disease?
And can disease be triggered by choice?
If so, at what point does choice cease and the disease progresses of its own accord?
Are individuals ever actually without choice?
Blogger’s Note: as my practice of meditation and yoga gets deeper my awareness increases. And I can now trace my cravings back to a source, and that source is often my mind latching on to something in an unhealthy way. FOR ME the difference between addiction and recovery is mindfulness. When I’m not present I reach for things out of habit, I order “my usual” drink without thinking about it. But this is my experience I can’t speak for anyone else.
The mind is like the force (Star Wars reference) controlling it requires training. How you train it is the deciding factor between transcending your current situation or succumbing to it. Pay attention.