I am addicted..
I am not on drugs, therefore, I must be a good person.
When I was younger and I wore a lot of black (which I still do), or I got into a fight with a family member, another family member would say that “it is not like you are addicted to drugs, you are a good kid”. As the years have come and gone, taking me to the ripe old age of 22, I have adopted this mantra: ‘I am not on drugs, therefore, I must be a good person’.
I am not an addict in the traditional sense. I have never done drugs (not counting my obsession with the amount of Ibuprofen my body could handle during five years of being part of a competitive marching band), I rarely drink, and arguably do not engage in any other destructive behaviors.
But I am addicted.
I am addicted to reading Medium.com posts during class, which I ease my guilt about by thinking about all the values and life lessons that I am learning from reading the writings of others. In fact, I am writing this article while in class.
I am addicted to McDonald’s french fries. I accept that this is a terrible habit, both for my health and my very tight income, but at least I do not drink, so I am still good.
I am addicted to rides. Buses, trains, cars. Though I get motion sickness, I enjoy using the time to thing about all the Medium articles that I am reading, and also eating my french fries.
I am addicted to going to the movies. Name any major movie out this year, and I have seen it.
I am addicted to working. I work over 40 hours a week at two jobs for minimum wage. I use this hard-earned cash to fuel my McDonald’s and movies addictions. I can afford this from not drinking alcohol at bars multiple times a week like my peers; and though I know that these are not the best ways to spend my time and money on, at least I am not addicted to drugs.
I was raised in a low-income household by a single parent. Where the baseline of success is the opposite of what happens when you are on drugs. You can hold a job, you can be responsible, and kind, and smart, and put together (not that people with an addiction cannot be any of those things). But as time went on I learned that being a good and successful person is not as simple as not being addicted to drugs.
Growing up, I never obtained a drug addiction. Instead, I became addicted to working. I became addicted to the idea of getting ahead, of remaking myself into a person who holds higher values that merely ‘not being addicted to drugs’. I became addicted to furiously planning out weekly and monthly budgets and how many hours in the day I can work without sleep. I budgeted how little I could eat each day, how many hours I could read, and how long my train and bus rides to and from work would take me, and how much sleep I could budget away on those. And when all this became too much, when I reverted back to my childhood idea of being carefree I did it by going to the movies with french fries hidden in my bag. I made the excuse that I had the time to do this because I did not go to the bar to drink, because I do not party. But then I start to feel guilty. Guilty that I am spending my little money on these material things, that I am not eating healthier, that I work so much that I do not have the time or energy to cook myself supper.
I know I am a good person. And not just because I am not addicted to drugs. I know this to be true when I loose entire days of working each week by volunteering, when I break my last twenty to buy a five dollar box of Girl Scout Cookies to give to a friend, when I catsit for people, and when I take so much time off of work to take yet another train or bus to another state to visit my family, where they measure the depth of another’s soul, pain, and character on whether or not they are addicted to drugs.