Behavioral and Addiction Observations and Admissions: An Article of Empathy by Julia Katherine

By | June 5, 2021

As the seasons have been changing, I have officially decided that I will be one of those people who is in an almost constant state of metamorphosis. This mindset has made the swift changing social conditions of the world easier to accept and adapt; and easier for me to accept myself, without addiction. I broke walls, false morals and repeated cycles that I had made during those freezing years of my life. After some time in my head, I have finally been able to put together a few of my thoughts about addiction and how I see it in different forms in my life. 

A LOT about me has changed. My room, my clothing, my routines, my work and school ethic, my friends, my relationship with my family and the people who care about me. I’m also able to keep a stable and healthy relationship that has recently just reached its one year mark. Ian, if you’re reading this now and any time in the future, I love you. You’ve been more than my rock since I met you a couple years ago. How far we’ve come individually as well as together, is the most beautiful thing I have had the blessing (though I am in no way religious- you are the closest thing to an angel I have ever seen) to call mine, in a long, long time. I can’t wait for our tomorrows. 

I recently told Ian about my boundary with relationships and my writing. That since we have now been dating for a year, and if he was okay with it (he was absolutely thrilled and spun me around in excitement) to be featured on my website and written into my pieces. 

Ian is one of  the reasons why keeping my priorities in life together has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I used to think that sustainable relationships weren’t obtainable- until I accepted change. He has expressed to me that we wouldn’t be together if I was still using, and I don’t blame him. I don’t blame anyone for leaving while I was using. However, those individuals were not meant for me in my current evolving prime. 

   To those who are reading this, and are in a time in your life where you continuously keep hearing people tell you to get your shit together- I promise you two things. One: when you do start to take the steps to pull yourself together- life is better than any high or low you’re currently chasing. Two: If you’re hearing what’s left of your conscience is trying to tell you that you need to change- it’s time to actually do something about it and stop numbing it. Three: The emotional, spiritual and overall humane experience of regaining one’s self after numbing with substances or destructive comfort zones is astronomical. I can tell you this from personal experience. 

 

  I have been advised in therapy many, many times that in order for one to keep healthy relationships, you must have a healthy relationship with yourself. Your life is as good of quality as you put into it. This includes how you treat yourself, the quality of the people around you and how they take care of themselves and their lives. I am no longer friends or in contact with anyone who I used with. Though I have gained a gallant amount of positive company back into my life. (Thank you to my lovely coworker who is also an artist- who asked me when my next piece was- you are a part of the positivity I’ve gained in this new phase of my life.)

 One of the scary things about drugs is how it silently takes over the user. This also applies to people in our lives that we may want but in no way need. 

 

 I remember when I first started “doing” cocaine, and telling myself as I fell asleep at night that I needn’t succumb to the consequences that cocaine could bring. I also remember meeting young people who have similar traumatic backgrounds to mine, witnessing them fall under the curse of addiction and promising myself that will never be me. However, it took over so quickly, so silently- I didn’t remember ever having boundaries like that until after I got sober. And want became need, when I discovered how easily the deadly white powder numbed the violent flashbacks of my kidnapped youth. 

  Another ‘addiction’ that I have observed is: the influence that we unconsciously absorb into our lives from the people closest around us. There are many ways to interpret this of course. A common example used in my psych classes was: Having trouble letting go of that childhood best friend who isn’t going off to college? But is guilting you for going off to University.  Equallying into either a tough choice made by the friend who has his academic career on the horizon or choosing to stay in his comfort zone. Another more common example; have you ever known that toxic couple who keeps anchoring one another down, yet neither one leaves? Personally, I have experienced this. However, I dumped my unlawful treatment after a little over two years. I have also seen people from my past turn down amazing opportunities due to such minneal things like the printer paper weighted strength of a promising forever friend from someone they went to high school with. 

My point of these observed examples over the years is; the addiction of not being alone seems better than to risk the free fall feeling and breaking out of something bad in one’s life. I have seen people turn down even better opportunities because they let their own destructive behaviors get in the way of starting anew. It wasn’t until I started questioning behavioral patterns and not just addiction based ones that I started to grasp a better understanding on how to break and prevent toxic cycles.

Behavioral psychology was one of my favorite sub-branches of psychology to listen to in lecture as well as read about both for school, as well as personal knowledge purposes. Behavioral psychology studies human behavior from infancy to elder years in behaviors, patterns, cycles- that make us, us (in very simple terms). The subject categorizes expected or “normal” behavioral patterns for each stage of life and the milestones or downsides and the reactions that come with them. For almost every life milestone, there is a psychological explanation for the reaction and behavior following said event. Behavioral psychology also allows us to explore the reasons as to why we make choices beyond what is considered the ‘norm’ (in psych- the word ‘normal’ is looked down upon- but still used) 

In life, anything can become an addiction. Usually when one hears the term addiction, the first thought usually is substance addiction. However, this demon comes in many forms. Addiction can be to video games, to lying, to certain people or persons, to projecting a false persona. Addiction can be food, pills, working out, gambling, sex, cars, cocaine, heroin, working- the limits for addiction are unfortunately- almost limitless. 

A common phenomenon that I caught onto in my hometown, besides drugs and toxic relationships, is the addiction to image and social status. Imagery in the bay area is important to many and essential for most. Social status is also as imperative as physical health. In some cases, physical appearance takes precedence over maintaining a healthy well being. Girls and guys will hang on to the most toxic people in their lives romantically just so they won’t be alone. Having a circle of friends to be able to show off on Instagram or strut downtown- is a social up-play move.  God forbid in the bay area you don’t have anyone to keep you distracted from what you actually need to be addressing to progress in life. I make that remark thinking of myself as well. I tend to try not to think about where my life would be now, if I had not wasted so much time on people who ended up never being good for me. You’ll see a pair of nike airforce1’s on the feet of one in five girls from the ages of 16-26. Addias graphics and unconsciously rapper inspired clothing for the males. Louis Vuitton logos glistening in the sun’s reflection. Perfected middle parts and the newest mom jeans. Winged linger and graphic logo’d snapbacks. One cannot deny the bay area has style- that’s for sure. With so many people putting in so much effort to what they look like in the East Bay, many have forgotten to work on what is really important- the development of self. I truly wonder how many people I used to associate myself with can honestly say that they are no longer producing the same patterns of destructive behavior- addictive behavior, that they were during the duration of our relations. 

That saying about your comfort zone hurting you, is true. We as humans are not meant to be stagnant creatures, though we can adapt to be one. What I mean by this is; there comes a point in repeated behaviors where we lose ourselves. We lose our inner voice that tells us when we should stop hurting ourselves and that we deserve better. I am aware that what I am stating also comes with many factors, which include those outside inflictions that we cannot control. But what we can control is our sense of moderation. In Philosophy, one of the founding fathers of the subject, Aristotle once said: “Moderation in everything, including moderation”. So, again, for those that are stuck in a rut of any sort or find themselves trapped in repeated behaviors- trying adding a different action or behavioral choice into your mix to debunk what is dragging you down. If this means having to step away from the world, socially, then by all means do what is necessary to get yourself out of your addictive behavioral choices. Just don’t forget to communicate with the people you love, that you’re detaching for a while. 

I have lost friends, many of them in fact, to  past behavioral patterns and addictions of my own. I was trying to make it look like I was completely functional and succeeding. I was the girl who spent hours wasting her life away with sleepless, strung out nights- wrongly rationalizing that what I was doing was productive at the time. When you are under the spell of a drug’s deadly addiction;  the only sense of accomplishment you have is when you score.  The addiction was cocaine, the behavioral cycles and patterns were: lying, manipulating, greed. I don’t blame the people who left for never wanting to come back. I was quite the flash fire flame when I was indulging in the wrong side of life’s vices. Even now, I have left behind my bad habits; the bad habits of others that are not societially as imperative as drug addiction came into beaming light of observation and curiosity to me.

 

To the girl that’s been with that partner for way too long- who is clearly NOT good for you- why do you stay? I see you look away when happy couples walk by. 

If that partner were heroin, would you stay with him until the end?

To the girl who keeps chasing disguised orges and life-sucking vampires when you could clearly have prince charming- do you want to keep practicing your behavior? Or, will you actually tell yourself that you deserve better than what you are familiar with and know how to temporarily control? To the girl who lets her past control her silently in the present day, why don’t you let those private tears flow? What is so physically painful about accepting the pain of yesterday and embracing the opportunities of healing and life tomorrow? These are all questions I have asked myself for years based on my life and the people who I have known.

 

Why do we choose to suffer subconsciously when all we need is to be able to stand/speak up for ourselves? All it takes is one pebble to be thrown and a cascade of ripples will erupt. I feel as though people need to be reminded just a little bit more: That little thing you did yesterday to change yourself for the better is an amazing first step to all the good you want to see for yourself. And, that you deserve. 

I ask this last question knowing that it is easier said than done. 

The hardest time I have ever had to speak up was when I had to tell my father that I was being wrongly sexually infiltrated and used when I was a young, young minor. 

However, it has been since that day- that I had made a promise with myself, that I would never again let myself suffocate underneath anyone again. No outside source would be able to cause me pain again. Though I never expected that I would be inflicting destruction onto myself when I started using and this is something that weighs on my mind deeply. However, it’s processing and on its way to healing. 

Drugs are different from people. 

For some people, it is people that kill them as softly and silently as any substance would. And for the rest, it is the substance that is the latter. 

This is exactly my point: people become addicted to other people. And the behavior that comes along with the addiction itself, weighs just as much as a destructive addiction than the person itself. 

 

I’ve experienced this first hand. My second serious relationship, I was with someone who suffocated the developing young lady I was on the road to be- with destructive and manipulative treatment and behaviors. That seeped into my subconscious making me think: So, because he treated me like this, I can treat other people like this. Especially, because of how much pain I’m in. 

 

I feel as though so many people carry this mindset. Dishing out pain to the undeserving, residually leftover from the painful past relation. I’ve endured unintended emotional pain from people I used to call my best friends. I have seen the most beautiful and intelligent women break down over the most pitiful example for a boy. Myself included. I think one of the worst addictions of life can be the addiction from a made up expectation or version of a person, besides substances. This makes me think of the times my friends would dream of the sober me I am today. And while I was one of the lucky ones to make it out of the grasp of addiction, I was recently told by a close friend of mine that: “there are some people who are too far gone, Julz. Some people are still there but they haven’t been for a long time.” 

 

I’ll start my conclusion with a confession. I still struggle with addiction. I’m currently working on kicking the vaping habit and want to eventually reduce my caffeine intake. The fact I’ve even conjured those thoughts on my own, reassures myself that I am growing, once again.  Everyday I used to run away and numb so many parts of my past and unknowingly then, so many parts of my beautiful self that I have gotten to know now more and more every day. 

Readers; if you are depressed, if you are stuck, if you are fighting addiction, if you are somewhere lost in this crazy world: please take my words and let them linger. I’ll reassure you that in life- we don’t have to know the answers of our futures right away. Just having a thought of “what if” and “I want this instead of what I’m currently enduring” – is a sign that positive change is on the way.

 

Keep going. 

 

Love, 

 

Julia Katherine