Monday, September 10, 2007

Addictive Personalities

I believe that I am an addictive personality. It is easy for me to get sucked into addictions, and I’ve spent my adult life finding ways of controlling these addictive tendencies. One way that I have kept things under control is to make rules for myself. As long as I stay within my rules I feel that I do not have a problem.

One example of this is drinking. I know that I could quite easily become an alcoholic, and at one point in my life, probably was close to being an alcoholic. When I caught on to that, I established rules for drinking:
1. No drinking alone. If nobody else is around, don’t even think about it. I break this rule every so often, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, but I know I’m breaking it and get back into it soon after. Also, when I break this rule I follow rule #2 as if it would kill me not to which I fear just a little that it might.
2. No drinking to the point of hangover the next day or losing control while drinking. For me, given how little I drink means that I can handle two drinks, maybe three, over an evening. As soon as I start to feel like I’m losing control I stop unless someone is with me that I know 100% guaranteed will protect me from myself, meaning someone who doesn’t enjoy seeing me get that drunk and will be the voice of reason to get me out of there, take drinks away from me, whatever it takes.
3. No hanging out with drinkers except on an occasional basis. If everybody else is going there it is much harder for me to stay in control.

For the past 20+ years this strategy has worked for me, and kept me in line. As long as it’s working why change it? Good plan. And one of the red flags that popped up for me with BJ is that he drinks, not excessively but drinks, on a fairly regular basis. I’m afraid the temptation would be too great for me. It would be too easy to excuse myself with him and fall into a pattern of drinking more than I should more often than I should.

Another case in point is gambling. I love to gamble. I absolutely adore gambling, but I am rational enough to know that gambling for someone like me is an absolute loser’s game. The casinos have the odds stacked in their favor. It’s the only way they can stay in business. So again I have set up a series of rules for myself about gambling.
1. No gambling anywhere except Nevada, Puerto Rice, cruise ships, and foreign countries. This rule allows me to have a little fun on occasion but since I don’t frequent any of these locations with any regularity it prevents gambling from becoming a habit.
2. Enter the casino with a set amount of money, no credit or debit cards, and once that money is spent it’s time to go back to the hotel room. This ensures I don’t lose a lot, don’t talk myself into spending just a bit more, and don’t play big money games so I can maximize the time I get to spend at the casino.

For the past 15 or so years this strategy has worked for me, and kept me in line. As long as it’s working why change it? Good plan. And one of the red flags that popped up for me with BJ is that since he separated he heads out to a casino not far from him just about every weekend. I’m afraid the temptation would be too great for me. He would want to go out to casinos, and I would either give into temptation and go and risk giving in to a gambling addiction or I would refuse to go and he would go alone leaving me at home pissed off that he would go without me.

There are other potential addictions that I avoid, but these are the ones that I felt could be impacted by a real life long term relationship with BJ. BJ doesn’t have a problem with drinking or gambling. There is no reason he should have to restrict his behavior just to help me with my weaknesses. W, on the other hand, is only an occasional drinker so it’s easy not to drink with him around. He likes to gamble too but he shares my concerns about the lure of it being too attractive so he’s happy to follow my rules (except that he fudges on the second rule sometimes, but not so much for it to be a huge problem). So in this sense, in moderating my addictive personality W is a better match for me than BJ. Perhaps in this case the age difference and the parent/child dynamic actually works in my favor although yes I understand that it would be better if I could just get a grip and take care of myself without relying on others for help.


Al Laddin said...

In the circles I travel in (AA and other recovery programs...gosh, I OUGHT to be more squared away, huh? Now THAT'S a blog series!) the conventional wisdom is that after a break up, divorce, etc. it is best to WAIT a year before a new involvement. Does that happen? Sometimes...mostly not, us humans being who we are. But I have been batsh*t crazy sometimes after leaving the house. Sometimes acting out ALL over the place.
I'm just sayin'...more chips may need to fall...and we can eventually become the better self we want to be...if that's really what we want.

Kisses and a great big virtual hug!

Stinkypaw said...

You relying on others shows that you are aware of your weakness and are willing to do something about it - good for you!

Funny (not really) how drinking and gambling often go together as addictions. I think you are doing something really good for you, it may not feel like you are, but the fact that you want to protect yourself from "temptation" because you are aware of your weaknesses shows maturity and knowing of yourself. You're not the one you needs to get a grip here...

Serenity said...

I very much admire the thought you have put into all of this and i think your rules show common sense.
hugs to you for all of it dear.

Trueself said...

Al - You? Crazy? Say it isn't so! LOL

SP - Yes, I am very aware of my weaknesses. I guess I never thought of relying on others to help me through them was anything other than another weakness. My parents were very big on teaching us that it is a weakness to ask for help or accept help from others. It is a learning process for me to find out it's okay to need help, to want help, to accept help. I'm getting there though, slowly.

Serenity - Well, I always figured that by following those rules (even if I bend 'em a little on rare occasions) I could keep myself out of trouble. Having seen what alcohol was starting to do to me when I was drinking waaaay too much, I don't ever want to go down that path again or down the path of any addiction again.