Lately I’ve been thinking about addiction and its role in my life. I’m not a drug addict. I take only legally prescribed medications as instructed by my doctor. I’m not an alcoholic. I drink wine or beer occasionally, hard liquor rarely, not to excess, and only when I know that it’s safe to do so: I won’t need to drive or provide solo care for my children. And while I will admit to trying cigarettes, that was years ago in college, so no addiction there, either.
But I do have an addictive personality. I have a serious weakness for junk food, particularly sweets and ice cream, and I tend to overeat when I’m stressed (let’s not talk about my eating habits since Hubs moved). Any of you who know me on Facebook have probably noticed I play a lot of games there – another facet of my addictive personality. Lately I’ve been more aware of another tendency, again emerging when I’m under stress (and being the only parent in town for three kids is a wee bit stressful).
I’m hiding in books. I’m serious about this. When I get overwhelmed, I retreat into books as a way to avoid reality. I don’t think it’s as physically harmful as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or food. It’s certainly not as apparent to others as my predilection for FB games. But I enjoy reading, and I hide in books. I feel like I have to watch this, because my kids deserve my time, attention, energy. I can’t stay up late reading (which I love to do) if I need to wake up early and get A on the bus. I have to put the books down when the kids are awake, so I can help with homework, fix dinner, change diapers, and do all of the other tasks that fill my days.
Nonetheless I feel this pull to read whenever I can carve the time. I suppose it’s a comparably harmless addiction, but that pull is still there. It makes me nervous. I know that I need the break, that reading can serve a mentally healthy function for me, but I feel like my appetite has to be reined in. Is thinking about this an indication of a problem or merely a healthy response, such that awareness and concern preempt an actual problem? I’m not sure.
My languishing dissertation dealt with issues of maternal guilt, with the conflict between individual realization and familial obligation. My life certainly isn’t a work of Irish contemporary fiction, but I feel like my focus on these topics must indicate something about my life. Is it fear of what could be, or self-indictment of what is?