In a recent Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, Willie Brown accused our president of having a Twitter addiction. An addiction being the giving oneself up to some strong habit, as in waking up at 3 in the morning and texting outrageous accusations. I don’t think I need to repeat them as you would have to be a strong person to resist your CNN addiction
For me, I have long known that I develop strong habits (addictions). At this point in my retirement, it is time to admit that I have a pattern addiction. Willie, in his article, suggested that there is a 12-step program for every addiction. I doubt one has been found for my ailment.
To give you an example of how my addiction manifests, I am going to list some of the patterns that suck me in for extended periods. These repetitious patterns exist with enough variety to be challenging. There was bridge, online and in play; and knitting, for five years without stop– except to sleep– and Words with Friends, I had friends in three time zones so that I could continue play all day long.
These addictions did come to an end only to be succeeded by American Mah Jongg, I even play in tournaments; poker, cryptograms, decoding recipes, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, Bananagrams, Solitaire and Rummy Cube.
I had a difficult time making sense of my need to be drawn to so many continuous habits. It is true that they have frequently been time limited, as in knitting. Knitting only lasted five years with me teaching everyone I encountered so that I could continue to talk to them while I knit; knitting on the toilet, and while waiting on line in the supermarket.
It was difficult to see the pattern that all of these habits had in common until I realized I was drawn to the patterns unlocked in word and number games and in replicating directions..
The worst addiction of all is Sudoku. I just learned strategies that allow me to solve the 81-box puzzles that have you counting to nine. I can’t stop playing. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night, which is a pattern in my sleep (very annoying), but now I get an additional time to play– you guessed it– Sudoku. I don’t even like the game. You know you are in trouble
when there is no pleasure in your pattern addiction. The Sudoku gods now own a part of my brain. This is the most compelling code game I have ever met. I even dream about those little squares and move pretend numbers around and around. I have developed bags under my eyes and am often seen walking in a fog. The Japanese might have won World War II if they had introduced the game to our soldiers. They would have been heard saying “But it doesn’t create a pattern from one to nine, so we can’t move forward” or some such nonsense.
I understand our president. He simply can’t help himself. He is terribly sleep deprived. Waking at 3 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep is enough to hate anyone you have ever known. The fact that you are thinking of them at all makes you crazy enough to send out messages from your sleep-deprived hallucinogenic state.
I am now at my solution to the problem. Someone teach him Sudoku. He will soon supplant his addiction with a new one. All he will want to do is play the game. Soon he will recede into a fugue state never to bother anyone ever again.
Ellen Blaufarb is a Marriage Family Therapist.