Sunday, January 31, 2010

Caught in the Web

I know I'm not alone in having addictive tendencies. Who among us can eat just one potato chip or a single peanut? Who doesn't have some weakness, maybe for chocolate, or worse, for cigarettes or alcohol? If you're a regular reader of this blog, you known I'm hooked on a fairly benign substance, maple almond granola. But this weekend I've experienced a relapse into another kind of addiction. If you were a fly on my wall, you would have seen that I've once again been caught in the web of Spider Solitaire.

It all began innocently enough a couple of years ago. I wandered into E.'s home office, where I saw him playing a card game online. "It's on your computer, too," he told me. I'm a slow study, but I gradually learned the rules and worked my way up from easy game difficulty, using one suit, to medium difficulty, involving two suits (I never made it to the highest level, in which all four suits are in play). I found it hard to stop. If I played a game and lost (a frequent occurrence), I felt compelled to keep playing until I won a hand. Then I raised the ante for myself. Not only did I want to win, but I wanted to win with a better score than I'd achieved before.

The more games I won and the higher my winning score, the harder it was to better that score. I became obsessed with playing until I achieved my best-ever score. Unlike E., who was able to enjoy an occasional game, I couldn't walk away. Only the most urgent requirements of daily living—eating, sleeping, walking the dog—could drag me away from the computer. I was caught in the grip of a mindless addiction.

Finally, I gave myself a goal. If I could reach a particular score, higher than I'd yet achieved, I promised myself I would stop, for good. E. didn't believe I could stop. He offered to remove the game program from my computer. I politely declined, then not so politely. I was a mad woman.

Finally, after a few weeks, I achieved the score I'd set as a goal for myself and I actually stopped. I felt incredible relief. I had my life back. I resumed reading the New York Times. I got into an exercise routine. I spent more time playing with Cosmo. All went well for quite a while.

Several days ago, though, I had a few minutes to fill before going out on an errand. I remembered Spider Solitaire. It was still there on my computer, its gossamer web beckoning. I had just enough time for one game. I opened the program, heard the familiar sound effects as the cards were dealt. I played and lost, not surprising since I was out of practice. After the one game, I was able easily to leave the computer and head on my way.

That was then. This is three days later. As soon as I returned home from my errand, I resumed playing. I've been playing every spare moment since. I haven't been able to stop until this blog threw me a lifeline and pulled me away from the spider's lair. Like an AA novice just starting out on the twelve steps, I admit that I am powerless over my addition to Spider Solitaire. I haven't started a new game since I began writing this entry. I hope to keep it that way. One day at a time.

1 comment:

  1. With a few different details, this blog could have been written by me. The only thing that saves me is that I have it only on my laptop, and I only use my laptop when I'm traveling. During my Centrum residency I managed to stay away from it for as long a time as I had set for writing, and then sometimes I would be so ensconced in my novel that I would keep writing and not even fall to my addiction. I almost installed it on my pc, but knew it would be my downfall. A friend of mine, also a writer, uninstalled it from her computer, then during the Writer's workshop at Centrum would come to my room at night and play it on mine. I don't understand WHY it sends out such a siren song. One time while visiting a friend in Nevada, I played it all day long while my friend was at work for several days in a row. I played it for so long I almost went blind. I truly have a love/hate relationship with Spider Solitaire. Bonnie