In the Ted Talk shown below, Johann Hari, shares his take on addiction, which has plagued his family for years. The header reads “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.” Being married to an alcoholic, I was intrigued. The first 20 years of our marriage were tough. I felt no connection, was lonely and tired and defeated. I finally left.
There’s more too it, of course, but we spent the next year hanging out once in a while…maybe once a month or twice a month. The following year, I felt some things shifting. My feelings were changing. I was enjoying life…engaging in life…and we started doing more together in this space. We tried new things together. We went new places together. We laughed and we cried. We talked about things that had happened in the past and where we were really going and how we felt. In 20 years, we’d never done this. Never.
Certain that we were still heading for divorce and looking for something different than we’d had in the past and not sure where we had found ourselves in the moment was real or would last, we explored other relationships. Eventually, those faded away and it became the two of us. Only the two of us. Happier together than we’d ever been and happier alone than we’d ever been.
It’s a small piece but worth noting…in 20 years, I really never got to play. I was the designated driver ALWAYS. I was the one who cared for the kids. I was the one who made sure everything was taken care of at home. It was just me. It never felt like he was there. He will tell you he was and physically that’s true. But he never felt present to me. I also want to give him a lot of credit for being a hard worker…he has always been a hard worker and has always wanted to take care of us financially.
When I see us know, both separately and together as a couple (yes, we are living together again as husband and wife and have been for about nine months), the big thing that is different is connection. Connection to who we are as a person, who we are as a couple as well as connection to nature…to what makes us happy…to what feeds our soul. We’ve found all these things we have in common that for 20 years we didn’t realize (I know, that’s crazy, isn’t it?) and we truly enjoy life.
And he has become the designated driver on many occasions. He has taken care of the grandkids right along with me (our kids are grown now). He isn’t hanging out in the garage every night while I sit alone in the house. He is able to have a beer or two and stop.
And we play. We work hard AND we play.
And, when I look at what’s different…it boils down to one thing.
I believe Johann Hari is correct. The opposite of addiction is connection. When we choose to engage and connect, the addiction falls away. Whether that be alcohol, eating, exercise, working…whatever…it falls away. We may still engage in those activities but the level changes. Of course, it isn’t a simple task. Connection is scary. It requires commitment and desire. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable and get hurt. It requires a desire to love and be loved and an openness to do both.
Has my husband quit drinking? No. Does it bother me anymore? No. It’s not my deal and it’s never a problem. The shifts in both of our lives is truly amazing…a miracle one might say. I love that I can count on him in so many ways where I didn’t feel that before. I love that he has become the man who says all the right things when I’m hurting. I love the desire I see in his eyes to make me happy, take away my pain and to take care of me.
And it’s all because of connection. Connection individually. Connection as a couple. And connection with the world around us. I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires as we continue our journey and hope that more are able to find a connection that feeds their soul in the way no addiction can ever do.
I hope you’ll watch the video and share your thoughts below.