Conquering My Shoplifting Addiction

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Conquering My Shoplifting Addiction
Conquering Addiction Pg2
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By Lynda Anthony, eClubSoda member since 2003

I remember it all so well. At a three-day leadership training program in 1999, the facilitator asked all of us participants to name everyday activities in our lives, e.g., food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, work, shopping, sex, religion, etc. I wanted to “look really good” so I added two very socially-acceptable activities, exercise and yoga, to the list. The facilitator added: “I am not saying that there is anything wrong with these activities, and I want you to examine your motive behind each of them.”

During the remainder of the program, I secretly thought of one of my activities…one of my addictions…which I had never shared with anyone because I was so ashamed of it. I couldn’t figure out my motive. All I knew was that I felt so much pain because my addictive behavior always began and ended with pain. I hated it. I wanted to get rid of it. I told myself once again that I would just stop this behavior BY MYSELF!! I obsessed on NOT doing this behavior ever again so I wouldn't have to share my terrible secret. I thought I had a lot of will power and could just “will” myself to stop.

Well, I didn’t stop!! Once again I found myself in my addictive behavior. I consciously knew that I was there and that I couldn’t just stop myself…or at least, that is how it felt…I felt like a victim of my own victimness. I finally realized that I could not break the habit by trying NOT to do it and that I needed help and support. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of living my life in secrets and silence and in terror of being caught. I felt so desperate and powerless.

I started getting life coaching from Nan Hoy Shaw and I watched her live her life full-out. I wanted that; I was sick and tired of hiding. As I began to trust her, I felt safer with her and finally found the courage one day to speak up. I remember emailing Nan on June 25, 2002, immediately after I had slipped again…after I had shoplifted once more. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed!! I was at a conference in Philadelphia – all alone. I went to a bookstore early afternoon, and I remember staring at a book that I wanted. I remember the urge to take it…the urge to shoplift it. I was so conscious of my thoughts. I was so aware that I wanted to steal the book, and I was also so aware that I did NOT want to steal the book.

I stood there for a long time…just staring at that book and trying to convince myself that I did NOT want to steal. I lost the battle once again. I iStock_LyndaArticle000012752697took the book and walked out of the store without getting caught. It was like taking another drink of alcohol or putting that needle in my arm for more heroin. I went through the addictive cycle. I felt a huge adrenalin rush at first and then remorse and devastation. I returned to my hotel room and wanted to die. This is when I finally realized that I needed help…that I could not do this alone. And this is when I emailed Nan.

I was terrified when I emailed her because I had never shared my socially-unacceptable addiction…my big, dark secret, my dishonest behavior...with anyone. I felt SO ashamed. I didn't understand why I did it. And I was afraid Nan wouldn't understand and would go away and never speak to me again. But I was most terrified by the thought that I would NEVER be able to stop this addictive behavior!

Nan responded immediately, and after we emailed more that day, I decided to return to the book store on June 26, 2002. I sneaked the book back into the book store, and then I walked up to the counter and paid for it. It was amazing! I felt a huge adrenalin rush and then joy and peace. I got a taste for the first time of living a life of integrity and of my genuine power. I will never forget these two days of my life journey.

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