Hi, I’m Betsy and I’m an email-a-holic

I’ve finally given up my BlackBerry, or rather my “CrackBerry.”

Actually, in my case I owned a Treo, but the point is the same: I had become addicted to e-mail anywhere and anytime. I had to let go.

It’s been many weeks now and I’m doing, well, okay. I wasn’t sure that would be the case, and because I was afraid of backsliding, I decided not to be open about the issue until I had some traction under me.

I first became aware of my problem when I saw a column in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “BlackBerry Orphans.” I’ve kept it all this time. It was all about the children of BlackBerry addicts, who were fed up with their parents sending and receiving e-mails during their baseball games.

“Like a bunch of teenagers, some parents are routinely lying to their kids, sneaking around the house to covertly check their e-mails and disobeying house rules established to minimize compulsive typing” wrote Katherine Rosman in the Journal.

Emma Colonna really hit home for me. Emma, age 14, “wishes her parents would behave, at least when they’re out in public.” She “has caught her parents typing e-mails on their Treos during her eighth-grade awards ceremony, at dinner and in darkened movie theaters.”

Emma fears her parents were e-mailing during her recent dance recital.

As I first read and then re-read the piece, over a year ago now, I remember thinking I’m not one of (begin ital) those (end ital) parents. Am I? The ones who sneak away from the family dinner to send an e-mail, whose kids talk about their parents’ “CrackBerry” use to the family therapist.

Oh really? I finally had to admit I’d found myself checking e-mails, not in the family bathroom perhaps, but in more than one restaurant ladies room. Ouch.

I tried to put Emma and the Journal piece out of my mind, but as my own kids complained about my Treo use on family vacations, at the ponytail softball games, and in the grocery store, I began to at least wrestle with the idea of wrestling with my Treo. Could I really let go of that lovely little “ping” when a new e-mail came in? (Who knows what new possibility or piece of information it might contain?)

Could I — would I — cope? I had to find out.

There are certain places I draw the line, of course. I never want to know, for instance, what life would be like without fresh ground coffee with half-and-half in the morning. I don’t want that existence. But getting rid of the unnecessary (and expensive) pacifier of e-mail any time, anywhere? It was time to find out.

Finally, just a few short months ago, I let go.

I had made a commitment. I was on the track “back” to wholeness.

At first, I felt totally disconnected. I had a cell phone, of course, but it’s a rather ordinary little thing. It can just take. . . calls. “Texting” is of no real substitute for e-mails and the Internet. Sometimes, those hours away from home s. . .t . . . r . . e . . .t . . . c. . . h. . . .e . . . d on forever. But I survived them.

What’s it like now? Well, it’s better. I don’t feel quite so “apart” from the world without my Treo. Yes, I’ve missed some important e-mails. Funny — the world has gone on just the same.

Sure, I feel a ping of envy when I get an e-mail with the note at the bottom “sent from my BlackBerry.”

But I’ve accepted that that part of my life is over.

Naturally, my kids are delighted my Treo is gone, and that’s what matters most. They are working on getting rid of the laptop next.

Memo to kids: Not a chance.

(Betsy Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago. Reach her through betsysblog.com.)