ADDICTION PAST AND PRESENT

I thought about this, last night, and when I awoke this morning it was still on my mind.  The first page of my morning’s devotion, I read this quotation:  “Beset with temptations without number, we must resist firmly or be conquered. Should we come to the close of life with our work undone, it would be an eternal loss.”  There is a text which keeps running through my mind, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Cor 9:27 (KJV) I know what Bro. Paul means because I see myself as being that castaway.

Today thirty seven years ago, the exact day and the exact placement of this day, I looked at my first (ex)wife and told her I loved her so much I didn’t want to chance losing a single minute, by smoking, of life and decided then and there to stop a three pack a day cigarette habit.  Two things remain gone as a result of that decision, she and the cigarettes!  However, it didn’t mean I wouldn’t pickup other habits as time went on.

They say the last person to realize they’re addicted to any substance is the person addicted.  I think this is a true statement.  The (ex)wife after her one day opened the refrigerator I kept in the garage and found a six-pack of beer.  She made a few phone calls and the next thing I know, I was being driven to a place of recovery.  I spent the next few hours trying to explain to these people I was not an alcoholic.  I thought I was there to get help with my interpersonal lack of ability!  Of course, they didn’t believe me.  She wouldn’t answer the phone and I would spend an exorbitant amount of money taking a taxi to get back home.  There was only a can consumed, unlike what an addict would do, and I liked the taste of beer especially having worked in the yard on a hot summer day.  However, she saw something about me I could not see.  I have an addictive nature.

It was that same wife who spent the remaining years of that marriage being involved during my addiction, seriously full-blown, to crack cocaine.  Why would anyone wish to remain with someone who is deeply involved in a substance abuse habit like cocaine, heroin or any other substance abuse?  More times than any, the one who is with an addict suffers the most.  You see, the addict is finding joy even in the midst of their addiction, but what does the partner get?  Absolutely nothing.  Just about everything is taken from them and they don’t have the short-term “feel good” remedy an addict enjoys.

So, while thankful my addiction to cigarettes and crack cocaine is part of my past I’ve contracted another and this one seems to be just as evil, insidious and I think will be just as hard, if not more difficult to stop.  Anything we can touch, ingest whether through our mouth, inhalation or eyes should be considered a “substance abuse” issue.  My new addiction is a combination of bits but it’s generally to be found contained in plastic, wires, metal and blinking lights.  It comes in various shapes and sizes beginning with my laptop and exists in tablets and phones.  Perhaps you share the same?

I thought about it and this is how my schedule for a normal day goes:

I wake up, usually, about 6:30 and begin my devotions, which is done on my laptop.  I read three different books, at one time and it takes me no more than about two hours. Oftentimes I am inspired to write something and it is usually done during this time. It’s followed by one chapter of the Bible, which I’m constructing.  I am not satisfied with the Bible software programs available, so I’m making my own.  And this is before breakfast.

I try to go outside and do an exercise/meditative/prayerful walk for an hour.  It is usually half that time, so on a good day, I’m able to make the full hour.  Where I live where the weather is wonderful year round, I manage to actually enjoy it but for only either that thirty minutes to an hour!  Then it’s back to the laptop where I check my email under two accounts.  I have more than this but generally if someone is going to send me an email, these are where they go.  Oh, I forgot to mention, when I leave the house to walk, I program my laptop to download movies or television series because they’re quite large in size and since I’m not home, I don’t mind the performance being slowed when I’m not actually using it.

When I return home, I go through the procedure of going online to Facebook where I upload my daily devotion for addicts to my homepage and then do maintenance for five groups where I am the admin.  This usually will take about an hour.  I also participate in five other groups.  Afterward, I check my inbox for messages and normally find five which need addressing and then check my record of people having responded to any of my posts or my responses to other’s posts.  There are usually about fifty of those!  I have nearly 3,000 friends.  In the groups alone, if you subtract the ones who are members to more than one, I have about 75,000 individuals who participate in these groups, who are the recipients to my posts and writings who often respond in some way.  It’s now close to Noon.

I then force myself to have brunch, for an hour, well, actually it’s about 44 minutes, the time it takes to watch a program, without the commercials.  It’s the one time I actually don’t “try” to look at Facebook and enjoy my meal and program.  I’m currently watching “Law & Order”.  I’m up to the eleventh season.  There’s another nine to go, or so I think.  Twenty-four programs, per season, times nine, well, you do the math.  After I’m finished with those, I’ll work on their offshoots like “Law & Order – SVU” and “Law & Order – Criminal Intent”.  Then the other programs I watch are “NCIS – Los Angeles”, “NCIS”, “Hawaii 5-0”, too.  I download movies, as well.  I have nearly 100 to watch but that’s the funny part.  You see, I bought a high-definition, 43 inch plasma screen, 3 dimensional capability television about three months ago and I don’t think I’ve watched twenty hours cumulative in that time!  You wonder why?  My laptop downstairs is the culprit.

After lunch, I read another Bible chapter adding to my developing work.  I began half way through Psalms when my current program crashed losing all my work from Genesis!  Twice!  So, now I’m developing my own program which is safer, easily backed-up and I do this every hour, on the hour, the last being 4 pm.  In the afternoon, I read a book, PDF file, which takes me another hour.  There’s another book, fictional, which I enjoy, which I devote another hour.  It’s nearly evening now, and while doing maintenance periodically on the groups, as needed, a little writing on my book’s sequel, this takes me through my day.

During the evening, I allow myself digital game playing whether Facebook or other.  I listen to digital music, yes, you guess, also on my laptop.  It’s my hobby.  I currently exceeded 11,000 tracks which I enjoy, catalogue and maintain.  I forgot to mention, my library of books exceed 100,000 and that’s just the classics.  I also have every work of Mrs. White, which I currently read as well as most novels published up until 2013.  I would imagine my digital book library is about 250,000 books!  I wanted to spend my retirement years working on my music and book hobby, and I am, so this consumes a lot of my time, and I enjoy it.  An addict always enjoys their addiction.  I’m a witness.

This comes that time of the day which an addict finds difficult.  It’s called, “shutting down”.  It’s difficult, for me to turn off the pc because I think I might miss something.  The last bit of actual news, comment or question, someone might ask me.  My world is global.  While I’m awake my friends on the other side are sleeping.  When they’re awake, I’m still awake with them and find it difficult to turn my laptop off and head to bed.  If given the opportunity and could manage health wise I’d be there the entire time, just as I did with crack-cocaine which prevented me from sleeping while using.

And like an addict, social contacts are nil.  I’ve never been one for social amenities, meaning, I don’t say, “Good morning, evening or good night.”  I seldom ask, “How are you?  How was your day?”  Meaningless drivel to me.  And those who send me an inbox beginning with the words, “Hi.” Or “How are you, my name is …” is usually met with, “How can I help you?”  It’s my shortened version of “make it quick and meaningful otherwise you’re going to receive an abrupt response to end this non-conversation!”  Only those who’ve I’ve known in Cleveland, New York or who’ve managed to actually become friends and true acquaintances will ever get a genuine response, from me.

My whole world is involved in this:  reading, watching, game-playing, listening, contact with others via text/skype is all done electronically.  I suffer from withdrawal should there be a power outage.  Yes, I’ve taken steps to rectify short-term outages and still maintain my online presence.  I find it difficult to realize how life was before a laptop.  If I can’t find a book online, I don’t read it in its conventional form. I used to own cassettes and cd’s, but don’t have a single one today.  I don’t use my phone for actual phone calls.  No one touches me and it is for certain I don’t touch anyone…

Why?  Because, I’m an addict.

My whole life is wrapped around this medium and I don’t know how to stop, just as I didn’t know how to stop using cigarettes and crack-cocaine, who acknowledges it was only the power of God and a willingness on my part to overcome this addiction.  I decided to stop buying cigarettes no matter how easily available they were.  I got tired of dealing with dealers and dodging police which helped with the crack-cocaine, but none of these apply when it comes to this new addiction of internet/computerism.  I think I just made up a word.  My definition would be:  “One’s who life is consumed by computers.”

My world is one of virtual with no reality involved.  Sure, friendships are made and even as per the many comments I get about a particular writing I might’ve shared, I will never meet these people in reality, even in that day, because I’m the guy Bro. Paul spoke about.  I’m the guy who’s involved in God’s work which never really takes place within my own heart and life.  Goes to show you God can used anyone, this I know, because He continues to use me, as often worthless as I am, with all my lifelong addictions and experiences I give to others, but never taking anything for myself.

I’ve decided to be cremated when my time comes.  It would be a thought to have my laptop, phone and tablet placed within so when I awaken I can see what it was that kept me from making it into the Kingdom!  However the case, Paul made another statement and as long as I have breath I will try to realize this one,  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8 (KJV)

So, while many are being “thankful” about the many things they’ve experienced, received or known.  Me?  Well, I began that way, too, but it’s how I end which concerns me.

Happy “Thanksgiving”.

 

November 27, 2014

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