So many thoughts and feelings flooded my insides as I tuned in last night to Being Mary Jane on BET. I’ve struggled with my feelings about this show, primarily because of how it has coincided with some of my personal feelings about my life. My qualms with its limited portrayal of a successful black woman aside, I’ve found Mary Jane’s character to be a mirror in some ways. So last night when Mary Jane’s brother described her issue in terms of addiction, I sat there and thought hard about myself.
I never once thought to think about some of my issues in terms of addiction. I have never done drugs and I have never been addicted to alcohol but I know what it’s like being stuck to the intangibles – to “love”, to being wanted, to validation, to people’s opinions. I’ve known that doing certain things, being with certain people, and having certain outlooks would be detrimental to me but I’ve continued in those patterns because i was addicted. Granted, no one really wants to think of their addiction in those terms. Most people who are struggling with addiction refuse to acknowledge it as such because the truth is not only uncomfortable but it’s downright painful. The insatiable urge to lie to yourself in order to protect your comfortable destruction is overwhelming. And once you make up your mind that you’re going to break the addiction, it seems like the desire for the addiction grows stronger.
But at the root of all addictions is some fundamental problem or issue that has not been properly addressed. And the truth of the matter is that you can know what the underlying issue is and still not be willing to address it – because it is painful, because it hurts, because it takes so much energy. For me, the root of a lot of issues stems from a desire to be completely accepted. For the longest time, I have depended on people to love and accept me because I found it hard to love and accept myself. It seemed easier to rely on others to do that for me and it gave me such a high. When I’m feeling loved and accepted – honey, you can’t tell me a thing! It exudes from my pores and my whole countenance beams. That’s addicting. But when I’m not feeling it – when people are people and do fickle people things, when people change and no longer feel the same, when people are not impressed with who I am and what I can bring to the table anymore – it’s a low low. It’s a low that’s hard to deal with so I do things to protect my high, even at the expense of my own emotional well-being. It’s an addiction.
Thankfully, I’ve found the strength to start doing the dirty work – to fight against the urges of self-deprecation and to not be afraid to feel pain. I’ve learned to give myself room to fall and room to struggle but not room to lay down to hurtful patterns or behaviors. I’ve also learned what my stressors are and have found ways to cope without falling back. I’ve learned to keep moving forward one step at a time. In a society where we all seem to be fascinated with being superman/superwoman, overcoming addictions or destructive patterns/behaviors make us intimate with the humbling process of just being human.
I’m thankful to God for the strength He gives us to overcome the addictions in our lives. I’m thankful that He has assured us that, through Him, we can conquer and overcome. And I am most grateful that when I am vulnerable, He is that voice that is always there saying “promise me when you feel that way that you’ll call me.” And He has never not come to my rescue when I’ve asked for it.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:35-37