The wall of words…
I feel like I’ve become a bit of an expert on cravings. It’s been hard not to, given I am an addict through-and-through and my brain likes to crave things…
How the Brain Craves…
After I quit booze I became very aware of how my brain craved. I spent many, many nights trying to fend off the huge desire to drink. Nowadays I no longer crave booze, but I have a very tricky relationship with sugar and other addictive foods (flour mostly) and my brain craves those things very strongly as well.
My cravings come at me as a big wall of words inside my head (in my own voice) trying to convince me to use.
The words go like this, “OMG I really want that stuff right now” or “Mmmm that would be really yummy” or “I would LOVE to have that right now”, “It’s no big deal”, “Everyone has it”, “I deserve it”, “Yum yum yummmmmmy”, “Boy would I love to have some of that right now”, and so on and so forth.
But wait – that’s not all. Given that I’m now fully awake to being an addict and am no longer blind to my cravings, I also have another voice in my head answering back. So the wall of words isn’t one sided. It’s a fierce conversation that goes back and forth and back and forth, like this:
“OMG I really want that stuff right now”, “No you don’t you’re just craving”, “Yeah but mmmm that would be really yummy right now”, “You’ll feel like trash after you have it”, “I don’t care I would really just LOVE to have that right now”, “If you have it you’ll just want more and more and more”, “But it’s just a little – no big deal”, “It IS a big deal you’ve been trying to avoid it – don’t go there now”, “But everyone else has it why can’t I”, “Because you’re an addict just resist you’ll be fine”, “But I so deserve it I’ve had a hard day”, “So have a bath or a cup of tea you don’t need that stuff”, “Oh but yum yum yummmmmmy it is sooooo gooooood”, “Shut up stupid craving brain”, “Oh boy would I love to have some of that right now”, “SHUT UP STUPID CRAVING BRAIN!!!”.
Locked in the Cravings Fight…
If you were to look at me while I was struggling with this fierce, internal dialogue you wouldn’t be able to see that I’m locked in this fight. You’d just see a woman lying on the bed watching telly, or a woman driving in her car to pick up the kids from school. You would have no idea that battle is raging on inside my head.
Sometimes this battle can go on non-stop for half an hour. Can you imagine being in a real conversation like this with another human being for half an hour? It’d be crazy!
It’s exhausting. Utterly exhausting and depressing.
Stop the Noise!
So it makes sense why we keep using. Because the easiest, simplest way to stop the noise and the fight is to use. To give in and go have the stuff. Just say “enough!” and use.
Instant sweet relief. Silence. The argument is over. The craving has gone. Peace. Like I said – it makes sense why we keep using. That sweet relief is so good.
Unfortunately, although it might appear on the surface to be the simplest way out, it is actually the most complicated and stupidest. Because the relief is only short lived. We have fed the beast. The craving will return. Again and again and again, the craving will return.
The only way to truly get rid of the craving – long term – is to ride it out. Surf it like a wave. Resist with every inch of your being… knowing, trusting, that it will eventually fade. If you can ride it out for long enough it will fade and die. If you do this – sit it out and let it fade without using – then the next craving will come back with a little less intensity. And so will the one after that. And the one after that.
Slowly but surely, if you don’t succumb and use, the cravings will get weaker until eventually they will stop altogether.
And that, my friends, is true long-term sweet relief. Freedom.
It’s worth the effort.