addiction or bonding

July 15, 2015

in johann hari’s TED talk (which i’ll try to link to but having not attempted such a feat of electronic wizardry before, and being largely electronically a luddite, i make no promises.  i’m sure you could look it up yourself, if you’re keen) he talks about the seeming failure of addiction being linked to chemical hooks.  he argues instead that addiction takes the place of humans bonding to the meaningful things in their life.  we are a species hard-wired to make connections.  we need to feel value in people, relationships and things like jobs and hobbies, we need to feel valued ourselves and we need to have a satisfying bond to our life.  if these things are missing or taken from us thru trauma, isolation or something of that ilk we replace our bonds to people with bonds to gambling, alcohol, cocaine, smart phones, shopping, pornography or a myriad of other ‘addictions’ that generally end up creating new or stronger, perhaps more insidious, isolating bonds in our brains.

our addictions spiral us ever inward to ourselves and away from the people that love us and the things that we would otherwise want to be present for.  except, at least in the case of drugs, in portugal, where in 2000, every drug; from cannabis to crack, was decriminalised.  yay, let’s all move to portugal!  portugal’s experiment (from the little i know of it) is running strong with 15 years of success measured in big reductions in the number of addicts, drug-related crime, recidivism and increases in employment and general well-being for the population.

if you are loved and remembered and thought of, if you enjoy your family and friends, have a job you at least don’t mind getting out of bed for every morning, if you find satisfaction in your past-times and pursuits and these things keep you present and engaged it seems you are likely to avoid damaging addictions.

at the end of march 2013 i was wondering where the cameraderie of the school gate had vanished to.  in 2012 and the first couple of months of 2013 walking percy to and from school introduced me to many families who became friends.  we were a happy little bunch of chatterers and strollers.  i bet those there still are, actually i know they are thru my addiction to facebook.  but in our change of location our, or at least my, circumstances and happiness changed too.  over two years later i am confirmed in my thinking that the ‘bored 50s housewife’ who hit the liquor cabinet a little too frequently was not so much a myth or a stereotype, but a real-life bonding response to a lack of connection to much anything that would keep their life interesting.

yes, the 50s housewife had her hubby and her kids, as do i, to keep her busy and connected.  i would strongly argue that these are not enough.  they are future-framing and present-enabling and sadly, not sufficient to render mute the need to bond and connect with people outside the family unit and the physical home.  i am isolated and lonely.  (i came with relish to our new country and our new adventures, easily i would do it again, even knowing what i know now.  of course with wonderful hindsight things would have been done differently.)  i am lonely because a partner and two young children cannot alone, fill the need i have for bonding and friends.

i can recall with precision the last and most recent time i stood in physical proximity with a friend and spoke with them while we looked into each other’s eyes.  you can too, probably… it was this morning, or yesterday, or at most last weekend.  for me it was october 2013.  for one week we were back in oz for my fathers demise and i spent a few hours with my addiction-stoppers, my bonded mates, my friends.  prior to that it was the 2nd of march 2013 when we said goodbye at the airport.  it seems i’m not such the loner, perfectly comfortable with my own company, in need of no-one person, i previously believed i was.  the history shared between us is the common ground i need to tread on to keep me upright and steady.  the shared experiences and the in-the-know jokes and the smiles and the touch and the promised future are things i haven’t experienced in over two years, and it’s driving me to addiction.  my near painful pragmatism wrapped around with manic optimism (believe it or not) keeps me from hunting down the local drug peddlers.  alternatively, i’d appreciate a call, a letter, even a postcard from you.  i miss you guys.

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