THIS ONE’S FOR YOU GUYS: HIDDEN ADDICTIONS DURING DIVORCE
HIDDEN ADDICTIONS DURING DIVORCE
Guys, our culture has branded and all but forgotten you. From my perspective, a woman, culture has branded all men potential “evil-doers” of one sort or another. One strong message society screams at you is that you are what ills society. Somehow somewhere you’re complicit to the harassment and abuse of women everywhere. You’re afraid to say anything to a woman that would be remotely misconstrued as sexual harassment. This is one giant bag of rocks to drag around!
The second bag of rocks is a DIVORCE. Feeling degraded plus divorce is a heavy load. I’m not a guy so I would imagine a kind of paralysis takes over? A catch 22. No matter what you do or say, it’s never quite right.
You’ve worked hard to get an education, married your college sweetheart, have a great job, bought a house and have wonderful kids. You’ve done everything right. You’ve got plenty of smarts and are successful. Then here comes the divorce.
This blog is written for all the divorced guys out there who are good guys but guys that have made mistakes. For all the imperfect, good guys that want to do the right thing, guys that learn from their mistakes and want to be better men.
When the topic of addictions comes up, we hear about the most obvious ones, alcohol, medication, opiates, porn, sex, gambling, food and spending. I’d like to address some of the less obvious, less disastrous, hidden addictions. These addictions might begin before divorce and pick up as your divorce moves forward. They seem harmless from the start but the consequences will be seen eventually.
Did you know that there are many addictions out there? Like 16 categories! Almost anything can become an addiction. Throw in the anxiety that divorce brings and you can find that you’ve developed a habit you never thought possible. These “ordinary” habits you incorporated into your life years ago now have a hold on you.
4 HIDDEN ADDICTIONS and 5 WAYS TO BREAK THEM
- AFFIRMATION: Affirmation is like a craving. You NEED approval almost like you need oxygen. In divorce sometimes, you feel like an empty well. You feel lonely. To fill this void, you date, go to bars, church where ever you can meet people and possibly form a relationship. You need people to like you and you desire connectedness. During a divorce your sense of self can be fragile so you try get as many people as possible in your corner. You’ll be the ‘pillow for anyone’s head’, bending your preferences, dislikes and personality to get people to like you. Having many friends makes you feel important and loved.
Catering to the desire for connectedness are the many dating sites. Dating sites are like fly paper to a fly. We want and need affirmation after the split so we buy into the illusion that there are endless possibilities for connection out there.
You need positive feedback at work, from your family and friends. You take extra good care of your appearance, becoming excessively preoccupied looking your best. Affirmation is your lifeblood. Without it you feel insignificant and undervalued.
The divorce contributes big time to the feelings of insecurity and worthlessness. If you allow people to choose you as a friend or befriend anyone that comes along, you sacrifice quality for quantity. Your connection will be shallow. You’ll end up bending in all sorts of ways to accommodate this “Unvetted” pool of people. You can lose yourself and your values. You can even have the feeling of being alone while with someone.
CONSEQUENCE: An addiction to affirmation can put you on an emotional rollercoaster. You get affirmation you feel great. Someone doesn’t pat you on the back, your mood sinks and you feel insignificant. You are now controlled by others and the external environment.
- PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS ADDICTIONS: TANNING and COSMETIC SURGERY.
Cosmetic surgery for men is increasingly more common. The addiction to being physically attractive can drive the best-looking guy towards all means possible to get “the look”. In divorce, guys as well as women can have lots of self-doubt about their appearance. Liposuction, male breast reduction, eyelid surgery, nose surgery, facelift, and ear surgery are the most common procedures. Other types of cosmetic surgery sought by men include a tummy tuck, neck lift, fat transfer to the face, brow lift and chin augmentation.
CONSEQUENCE: The real issue is what’s inside. I lack of self-esteem and self-worth drive this addiction. Cosmetic surgery gone wrong can result in multiple surgeries to get whatever was being fixed just right. In many cases, men come back again and again for more surgery. The end result is sometimes looking freakish. The same with tanning. Maybe you’ve seen someone addicted to tanning. Their overly dark skin looks kind of creepy.
- LYING: Lying for you is just a communication tool. Lying makes everything easier so you say what you feel you need to say in the moment. You lie at work, at home, to your friends and even your family. You lie about the small things, you lie about big things, on and on it goes. You don’t feel guilty as lying greases the gears of life. The problem is it will catch up with you. It always does. Usually when you least expect it.
CONSEQUENCE: The worst part of lying is that you believe your own lies. Getting a reputation as being a liar is no one’s dream. If no one trusts you in work and in life, you will end up in the very situation you fear most – being alone.
- TECHNOLOGY – VIDEO GAMES/TELEVISION/COMPUTER– You feel without TV life is empty and stale. You live for the game, reality TV, etc. Every tone coming from your phone, ipad, computer causes you to jump. TV is a passive activity. It’s an emotional stimulator designed to hook you and keep you there. As you watch TV, you feel, you certainly don’t actively reason. Your view of life can become uni-dimensional. Your thoughts and opinions become myopic. Descending into a virtual reality via your computer or video games makes actual reality seem less painful and potent. It‘s a kind of escapism. You disconnect from life as you sit in front a screen. You’re occupied but not satisfied. Loneliness comes with the territory.
CONSEQUENCE: This type of isolation comes with drawbacks mostly in relationships and productivity. An obvious consequence is that your emotionally intelligence suffers. Your people skills fall short. Empathy is in shorter supply. The effects. You’re less involved in the community. Technology produces a desire for more and more and more.
5 STEPS TO TACKLE A HIDDEN ADDICTION:
AWARENESS is first and foremost. If you don’t think you have an issue, how in the world can you start working on it? Listen to friends, family and co-workers. If they’ve observed anything that rings true, your first responsibility is ask yourself “Is it true”? This is a simple first step yet powerful. Knowing that divorce can be the catalyst for unhealthy coping behaviors is a way to activate your radar.
LIST THE TRIGGERS. Is it communicating with your ex? Joint custody of the kids? Stress at work? Paying alimony? Write them down or you’ll forget. This piece of trying to get a handle on your addiction is essential.
ACCOUNTABILITY. Enlist the help of a friend. Confide in them about your struggle. Give them permission to ask you regularly how you’re doing.
SEEK THE INSIGHTS OF A PRO. There is no shame in asking someone for a helping hand when we’re trying to become a better person.
COMMIT AND PERSIST. Commit to erasing the addiction from your life. Be determined to get a handle on the addiction. Don’t give up when you fail. You only fail when you stop trying.
Be honest with yourself and ask yourself “Does anything in my life have too much of a hold on me?” If the answer is “yes”, deal with it immediately. Waiting makes kicking the habit harder.