How To Play Addiction Like A Piano

by Bill Brenner on January 6, 2010

The author admits that when an obsessive-compulsive person puts down the addiction that’s most self-destructive, a few smaller addictions rise up to fill the void. But what happens when the money runs out?

Mood music:

I hear it from addicts all the time. They put down the thing that’s caused the most chaos and heartache in their lives, but then they find themselves latching onto smaller addictions to fill the hole. Chain smoking, for example.

That hole inside is what compels us to harm ourselves in the first place. Fail to address the source of the pain you’re medicating and the demons will be back. You end up pushing down on all the different addictions like the keys on a piano.

I’m lucky in many respects, because I started dealing with my pain source years before I even tried to address the addictive byproducts. I also have a powerful ally in God, and got a lot out of praying the Rosary on the hour-long commute to work this morning. I can also indulge in some perfectly harmless and always therapeutic metal music.

But truth be told, I still struggle with other addictions when the big one is under control, just like everyone else. They are the less destructive kind, but troublesome all the same. Especially when you can’t afford them the way you once could.

My addiction to coffee is well known. No apologies there. At this time, I have no desire or plan to kick it, no matter what the therapist tells me. It’s cheap. It doesn’t impair my ability to function. It’s really the most harmless addiction I will ever have.

The computer, the BlackBerry, the social networking sites — all addictions. But like the food this is a tough one, because all of those just happen to be vital tools of my trade. I can practice putting them away on nights and weekends, but banishing them completely is simply out of the question.

I also have a habit of spending money on stupid things when I need a quick fix that’s no longer satisfied with food or alcohol. Maybe it’s on a book I’ve already read and really have no reason to buy. Some of the desk trinkets were most certainly purchased on a spending jag.

Now we’ve arrived at the problem.

I have massive urges to spend money these days, but I have a powerful reason for mostly abstaining. Unlike previous spending sprees, the money simply isn’t there. OK, it probably never was there. But Team Brenner is down to one steady salary and a spending binge now could keep essential items from being paid for.

This isn’t a complaint. In fact, it’s a gift. Not one I wanted, but one I need. If lack of money is what it takes to put down another addiction, so be it.

Erin is worried about the money supply, as am I. We haven’t struggled to make ends meet in a long, long time. But we both chose this path willingly because starting the freelance business is something Erin simply must do, just as I simply had to pursue the career I’m now enjoying. I don’t regret it for a second, and in the end I know all will be well.

God’s Plan can certainly be infuriating at times. But I’m going to keep following it to see where it leads.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann January 6, 2010 at 3:57 am

Great read as always… Now you have me asking “what are my addictions?” reading this blog is one – I look for it every day and was a bit bummed when you took some time off from it!

Erin Brenner January 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I like the image of playing your addictions like a piano. The result must certainly be better than my image: playing whack-a-mole with the darned things. Better to play beautiful music with your imperfections than beat the crap out of them.

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