If you’ve read any of my writing before you’re well aware that I’m an addict in recovery. If this is your first time reading my words … Hi, I’m Cynthia, I’m a 56-year-old Aussie writer who’s been consistently clean and sober, one day at a time since October 12, 1995.
So, monitoring, managing and facing who I really am as I live my life without the false yet fabulous anxiety-numbing benefits that booze, drugs and ciggies offer … for the past 23 years has been both incredibly challenging and rewarding. The most demanding discipline I’ve had to face is in making sure I don’t swap the witch for the bitch. You know … replace one addiction with another.
Many alcoholics in denial boast about doing “Dry July” or “Ocsober” with the naïve delusion that if they can abstain without booze for a length of time that proves they’re not alcoholic, they kid themselves that they’re just not addicted if they can stop. An alcoholic in the early phases of their addiction can go cold turkey. We can abstain for blocks of time however, once we pick up again we are very soon back to where we started … a pissed idiot unable to guarantee our behaviour. What many do during a phase of abstinence is increase other addictive behaviours so they don’t have to be emotionally present to their emotional discomfort. So, they smoke more, eat more, watch more porn, spend or gamble more, or disappear into a computer screen.
I’ve been running Emotional Fitness recovery support groups at The Royal Brisbane Hospital for the past 18 years, helping people with all kinds of addictions take their brave first steps back into the real world. Yep, break up with both the witch and the bitch simultaneously. Any ethical rehab will ensure the addict whilst detoxing has no access to not just booze and drugs, but also nicotine, caffeine, social media, the internet and sugar. This gives the recovering addict an opportunity to meet themselves and actually hang out with themselves … for maybe the first time ever in their adult life. They become totally clean and sober, blessed with a fresh start from all weapons of mass distraction.
So… if there’s one thing I know for sure from rigorously studying, documenting then sharing my own addictive behaviours for over two decades and learning from observing others its … no matter what the substance or behaviour, regardless of whether it’s booze, drugs, nicotine, food or sex … so many of us addicts put one addiction down, only to replace it with another.
Yup, we just kid ourselves when we swap the witch for the bitch.
And it’s exactly what I had done gradually over the past few years with social media. It had become my new “weapon of mass distraction”. I’d declined from being a healthy social media user into a social media addict.
It has been stated by clinical experts that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection.
An addict seeks weapons of mass distraction to avoid emotional connection. Why? There are a multitude of reasons. The top three are … trauma, neglect and biological genetical inheritance.
I was an incredibly emotionally unfit at age 33 when I got clean and sober. I was high functioning without a doubt. From the outside looking in I had a perfect life. Married to a good guy, financial security, living in an affluent inner-city suburb with two beautiful little boys. However, on the inside I was a secret drinking, drug taking, emotionally avoidant, suicidal wreck.
Not anymore though. Over two decades later, I’ve remarried another great guy, had six books published, have the career of my dreams, live in a darling old inner-city Queenslander home, have had an amazing fairy-godmother/sponsor for the past 23 years, a couple of true friends, and life is fanbloodytastic. My boys have grown into impressive men, my ex-husband and current husband actually enjoy each other’s company. In a nutshell … our patchwork tribe has become a beautiful family. I am blessed.
So, let’s get back to the witch for the bitch issue.
If life’s so good, why did I pick up another addiction?
I have been posting my Daily Word Vitamins which is the blog format you are reading now on Facebook since 2009. It has proved to be a constructive tool in so many ways linking those interested in recovery to my work, my website www.cynthiamorton.com and books. So many amazing corporate clients and private clients have accessed my keynote speaking, workshops and private sessions through this portal. No problem. Love it.
The decline started to happen for me a few years back when I added to my healthy social media diet …Twitter then Instagram.
It was like introducing cocaine and marijuana back into my life. I noticed a subtle, yet definite obsession start to kick in. Does an addict/leopard ever really change its spots? It’s physical spots no. It’s emotive behaviour yes! If you compare a cub leopard, an adolescent leopard and a mature hunting, adult leopard their spots haven’t changed, but their behaviour and competency sure has.
An addict like me can always change our behaviour for the better. It requires daily discipline though, connection and attention to boundaries. We’ve gotta make sure unhealthy relationships with witches and bitches don’t creep back in. Our lives, sobriety and sanity depends upon it.
I had become complacent over the past three or so years, socialising with party people way more than I was comfortable to. Even though I had remained clean and sober I found my social life was becoming busier and I was going to way too many functions hanging with people that needed to drink way too often, and way too much. That dominoed into my social media life being busier too. I became addicted.
Here’s what I noticed …
- I was rushing through my morning meditation to get to my social media
- I was replacing time I used to use for reading and relishing books with social media scrolling
- My desire to write new material had decreased
- Social media without substance was taking up more and more of my time
- It was like a mosquito buzzing around me at any event nagging me to ensure I got a photo for social media rather than relaxing and being fully present
- Time I would have previously spent chatting to my hubby often got hijacked by my social media addiction
I also started to notice that some of my clients were also complaining of low self-worth due to new social media related issues …
- A compare and despair habit
- Fear of missing out
- Social bullying through exclusion
- Obsession on how many likes they’d get
- Depression through lack of followers etc. etc. etc.
- Panic and anxiety if they went for more than a few hours without checking their social media
- Pretending to work but being on social media instead
- Lack of motivation through being hypnotised by their social media feed
So, I have bitten the bullet and deleted my Instagram account and no longer use Twitter either, and I cannot tell you what a huge difference it has made for me. I won’t lie, I did notice I went through withdrawals for the first few days. But after that, a new calm has trickled back into my life.
I will keep Facebook for now as it has always been a more intimate format for my writing with followers and friends that are genuinely interested in reading my work and the recovery journey.
But with Instagone and no more nagging Twitters I am finding …
- I’m more relaxed and rejuvenated after my morning meditation
- I am picking my beautiful books again and have reignited my love of reading content of substance
- My desire to write new material has kicked back in
- I’m in my garden more, creating with my darling hubby a fragrant new herb garden
- I’m not distracted, and more emotionally available
- I feel free
So, I just wanted to share my experience to invite you to perhaps review if social media and screen time is something you use to avoid emotional connection with real people in your real life.
I also wanted to let those people who have been texting me wondering why I have blocked them on Instagram, I haven’t I’m just not there anymore. I’m back here only on Facebook doing my utmost to reduce my social media dysfunction, just one day at a time.
There is no shortcut … It takes time to build a better, stronger version of yourself … you live, you learn, you love and you share … I hope my sharing has been helpful.
Lots of love Cynthia xxx