WARNING:  If you are easily offended – or don’t really want to hear about my sordid past, you may want to skip this post.

Addiction…my life has been riddled with addiction.  The most obvious stares back at me every time I pass a reflective surface. The less obvious swirl under the surface and help make sure I stay addicted.

I never had trouble with drugs or alcohol or gambling. My addictions are food and people. I am one of those people who wear out friendships. With all people, men particularly. Sex, sure – but that was only part of it. Sex was often just a way of convincing myself, however temporarily, that I was connected to something outside of me.  I thought the men – the act – filled an empty space inside me. Funny thing – the more I filled my life up with shallow people and my bed with random men, the emptier I became.

I was a whore. There really is no nicer way to put it.  I can’t even say I was a prostitute…they get paid. I tried to convince myself I liked what I was doing and that I was comfortable with “who I was”. I began to seek greater “thrills”.  I am not even sure why except that a numbness seemed to invade me and I thought, maybe, that I could shock myself out of it.  Multiple partners; men I had never met; married men, dangerous situations.  It is only by God’s grace I wasn’t killed more than once.

The world had convinced me that I was trash.  So I acted like trash.  I let people treat me like trash.

God doesn’t make trash. I didn’t know that yet.

I want to tell the story.  I want to write the story. I am trying.  The work is hard and scary. I keep stalling.  Sometimes for good reasons – like, how do I write the story in a way which shows the depth of the darkness but does not read like pornography (and bad porn, at that)?  I’m not sure I can – which may keep the entire story from being written – only time will tell. I could tell just part but without an understanding of the depths to which I sunk, the climb out doesn’t seem miraculous. Believe me, it was nothing short of intervention from the Almighty which led me upward, outward, and ready to share my story with those who are where I have been and find some value in the re-telling.

As I’ve been healing, I’ve noticed a very real correlation between my addictions – and realize that I’ve been in submission to them for much of my life. I created a life which I lived in slavery to one master or another.

The common denominator?

Sensuality. And not sensuality as it relates to sexuality, necessarily.  I’m talking about just using your senses to see, smell, taste, touch and hear. (Some people have a sense of direction.  Mine was amputated before birth.)  We are endowed with these senses, to make use of them, to make our lives full but I allowed sensuality to become addictive and thus, define my life.

I have struggled to understand why.

I grew up with a distinct lack of diversity. I lived in a world full of corn, soybeans, and wheat. In my mind, the world existed in those colors.  Everything about life was plain, whitewashed, homogeneous. We were white.  All of us.  We spoke English.  Every last one of us.  I didn’t realize it then but the lack of exposure to anything different was limiting me.  Limiting my learning and, therefore, my potential.  I was caught in a box and didn’t realize it.

We moved during middle school and my world began to open a little.  I went to school with people of many colors and backgrounds.  I began to hear other languages spoken. My senses started to come alive and I began to want variety, in life, in people, in food (at this point, primarily food) but Cashew Chicken from the Chinese Restaurant out on Navy Boulevard was the height of exotic in our house.  Meat and potatoes still reigned supreme even living in a port city with fresh fish in ready supply.  Herbs remained unheard of and vegetables came out of cans.

I went away to college.  I began to explore. Culture, food, people.  Then I went out into the world.  There was so much I’d never even dreamed existed.  I began to taste all kinds of food – and spice.  And all different types of people.  And music. And life. And my senses came alive – began to flourish. My life became a pursuit of the sensual.

As I look back now, I can see that when I began to try to taste EVERYTHING life had to offer, I felt the need to binge. On food.  On people. On sex. I was struggling to find out where my boundaries were and desperately wanted to break out of the box of uniformity.  My senses had been fully stimulated and my love of all things sensual took over.  Completely.

It’s one sort of bondage to be blissfully unaware of what you’re missing. It’s another to be so caught up in the pursuing what you THINK you have missed that you neglect other, important, aspects of life. Both leave you out of balance. Both keep you from rising to your full potential.  Both keep you from living a fulfilled life. Both leave you reaching for something which is always just slightly beyond your grasp.

Sex fulfilled one addiction – food another.  They’re not so different.  There is sensuality to be found in both.  There is good and bad.  For the most part, the bad comes from the excess. 

The theme for 2014 is eliminating excess and attaining balance.  In all things.

What’s your 2014 plan?