Admitting “I am an addict” brought up a fear that people would think my addiction was an alcohol or drugs. And what if I was? My addiction is just that, an addiction. A difference is that some addictions, like mine, are “socially acceptable”.
My addiction is to achieving. In fact, my worth is tied to achieving. I am what Shirzad Chamine calls a Hyper-Achiever. It doesn’t matter how much I have to do; I take on more.
The hidden reason I over extend is because it makes me feel worthy. I thought the reasons were because I like to be busy and I like to help. The insidious part of the hyper-achiever is that when you strip it down, it is about feeling worthy. It hurts to feel worthless.
In 2012 I came face to face with my addiction. I had a double mastectomy. My doctor said I would be out for at least 6 weeks.
6 weeks? No way! Instead, I searched the web to find evidence I could do it in less time. Eureka! A woman who had a single mastectomy went back to work in 2 weeks. I set my goal for 2 weeks.
After 1 week I was in so much pain, I could barely walk. How was I going to get to work? “Nope, don’t think that way, stick to your goal”, I thought, “I’ll be back to work in a week.”
You guessed it; I was out for 6 weeks and went into a deep depression. In my mind healing didn’t count as achieving anything.
I went back to work feeling like a failure, pushed myself too hard and ended up back in bed. Yep, failure had a tight grip on me!
Then the universe intervened. My sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I immediately quit my job to be with her. I didn’t even think about achievement!
She died 8 weeks later.
It was in her death that I realized my addiction.
Admitting and accepting that you have a problem is the first step to addiction recovery. I have been on and off the recovery wagon for 8 years.
I have found ways to interrupt my worth being connected to my achievement. I ask myself if my worth is tied up in what I am working on. If so, I acknowledge it and loosen the reigns. I also say mantras every morning, “I matter and what I offer the world matters, regardless of achievement” and “I forgive myself for any mistakes I’ve made”. These mantras and others remind me of my worth, no matter my achievements.
Does my story resonate with you?
Do you have a “socially acceptable” addiction? Are you a workaholic? A perfectionist? Are you addicted to caffeine, the internet, shopping, exercise, adrenalin? These are all addictions that can have a negative effect on our lives.
Have you taken any steps towards recovery? I’d love to hear your story.