The Addiction Theory

Kat Vuletich
and her mews Mack

Here’s my thoughts on addictions. It’s about emotion and risk. And Love. There is this little book I read in college, a collection of letters back and forth between the writer Rilke and a protégé of his. His advice about poetry really struck me. Do not write love poems. He reasons that this is too emotional, too subjective to provide a good subject for poetry, good poetry. Huh?
But I get it. Love is about the loftiest high and the most dismal low. It’s risk, the biggest risk if we give our all, we throw ourselves over the brink and believe we will “fall” forever in that blissful swim of love and adoration and giving.  Then– SPLAT– we hit bottom. And believe our broken selves will never mend, will never heal. We’ll never love again … And … We do. Maybe. Maybe we hold something in reserve, and we rappel down that cliff with anchor and pitons guarding against that horrific fall, or rather the sudden stop at the bottom of the abyss we call love.
So, guarding ourselves from being hurt, we invest that risk, that thrill of free-falling, of giving our all in something a little safer, a little less devastating to our hearts … maybe we only have to deal with a hangover, or the stupor of coming off a high, or an empty wallet until the next payday, or …
I’ve heard people talk about substance abuse as a way to escape the pain, pain of life, of routine. I guess. These people generally don’t have love in their lives, or what I mean is they don’t love, they don’t engage in love in that wholehearted way. They might think they do, or they might pretend or mimic. Most addicts are adept at using those people they say they love and cloak their vampire-like bond with the words and acts of love. But their hearts aren’t in it. If you could put the choice to them: your next high/drink or your lover?  Guess which one they would kick to the curb.
I submit that we need risk. Risk in the form of love, its joy and pain fully realized. We must gamble our hearts, our emotional selves in this venture we call life. Experience life in love’s gliding glory and spiraling failure. Or, we are driven to seek this elsewhere, in different forms, unnatural forms. Our souls know when we defraud this need, substitute what our human experience requires with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or whatever pitiful, inadequate indulgence we engage in to spare the full exposure and risk of our hearts.
Think about those people who aren’t ruled by addictions. Do they love, live with their whole selves? Do they suffer the pain of love? Soar on its wings? Do you?
So, love like a sappy teenager, full of ideals and courage and innocence. With the blind belief we all felt our first time when we happily pitched ourselves over the edge of the abyss and welcomed the velvet envelope of love.
Accept the shock and shatter of the pain that engulfs us when we hit bottom. Walk through the numb grief back to sanity. Heal. Engage again. Leap. Our souls need it.
It’s like those Direct TV commercials: When you won’t fall in love because you’re afraid of the abyss …
You marry for other purposes. But you need risk. So you gamble your emotions in other ways.
Then you get into trouble with debt, or other lovers, or alcohol, or drugs. You lose your spouse, your house, your job, your car, your freedom. Don’t fear the abyss. Fall in love (and get Direct TV … just in case).