When the Struggle Becomes an Addiction

Growing up, several disappointments caused me to construct a wall around myself to dull the impact of any future letdowns. For a long time, that wall was my Employee of the Year, never calling in sick or sleeping on the job. I programmed myself to believe that happy times were earned by bad experiences and if something good was to happen, then impending disaster waited around the corner for me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. But what I thought was a stealthy source of protection actually dismantled my ability to embrace blessings and happy moments in my life. This may sound insane, but I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to struggling. Yep, the support group, 12-step program type of addiction.

After I finally had my first paid piece published (a goal that had been set years prior), I barely acknowledged the fact that I’d finally accomplished my goal because I was worrying about hypothetical backlash from my family and inconsequential opinions of complete strangers. I couldn’t resist manufacturing a struggle-filled worry session instead of simply enjoying my moment.

scared

Me, too afraid to celebrate good news

Before I quit my 9-5 to pursue writing full-time, I envisioned my last day on the job as a par-tayyyy filled with celebratory Tuaca shots that would leave me doing carpet angels in the middle of my living room floor. Instead, my struggle mentality lured me into stressing over whether I’d be able to make a living writing and wondering to myself how long my husband would  support me before this idealistic “chasing my dream” notion got old.

Ever since I can recall, I dreamed of traveling to Hawaii. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit two islands during my honeymoon. One day, between winding around curves on Maui’s beautiful Road to Hana, and snapping pictures of waterfalls and seaside cliffs, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of not belonging, like I didn’t deserve to be there.

My husband looked confused and told me, “Our money spends just like everyone else here. You wanted to see Hawaii, didn’t you? Just take it in and enjoy it,” he said, reminding me that this was something I’d been blabbing his ears off about since we met.

I look back on the beautiful photos from my visit and regret not embracing what should have been a moment of pure joy! Sure, some pretty effed up stuff happened in the past. But today my increased level of self-understanding tells me that not every moment has to involve a struggle.

Meanwhile, I’m working on de-programming my debilitating train of thought by celebrating victories, big and small.  The end goal is to learn to fully relax and let the sunshine from happy moments flood my insides. Doing just that has been–you guessed it–yet another struggle, but I refuse to settle. Truth is, I’ve been about that struggling life for far too long and I’m finally ready to sober up.

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Kenya is a freelance writer and copy editor from Dallas. She is contributor for HelloGiggles and Apartment Therapy. Her work has also been published on JET, xoNecole, Elite Daily and Bustle, to name a few.