Garbage advice. Well, Sometimes it is. I’m sure we’ve all heard it from parents. It even comes via indirect forms as well. Like when learning to meditate, we’re told to sit with our thoughts and allow them to be. We’re taught not to question authority. Well, isn’t our mind our master? So thoughts come up and we blindly obey. We obey because we know what happens if we don’t.
I dipped for over thirty years. Oh sure, I’ve tried to quit numerous times. Hasn’t everyone? What happened when we couldn’t stay quit? Our master tempted and tortured us until we obeyed. You know the drill.
You get the nervous energy. Our master says,”It will calm your nerves.” So we listen and put off the withdrawal by taking a pinch. You held out? “Good job. You deserve a reward. You have it licked now.” So you convince yourself that you’re strong and you deserve your reward, pinch. Oh, you’re going to keep the tin around and show it whose boss? Inevitably, you have an argument with someone or some other real stressor, because you’re edgy, Nic-ing. “Well, I’ve already quit, so now I can have just one to calm my nerves. “Boy I really told that sucker.” Well, who’s the real sucker?
And so the cycle continues. We try, and every time, we break weak. We break weak because we dare not question our master. Just that easy, we give up our quit. Then you feel defeated. “Who was I trying to kid anyway,” we tell ourselves. “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want. Nobody cares anyway……” Well, you’ve got to grab that MF’r by the throat and punch it until it submits.
So you’ve made a decision to use. Are you proud of yourself? I bet you are, boss. Maybe we really believe that, or maybe we’re scared. We’re scared because we know we’re beat. If you question the master, you know what happens. So we lie to ourselves. It’s easier to cover our shortcomings with a false bravado.
On 4-15-23, I had a rough day at work. I got home, ate dinner and got ready to get my shower. I just got done using the toilet and my master bid me. “Now it’s time for a fat lip and relax. What a day.” At that moment, something snapped inside me. “Shut the Fuck up you fucking piece of shit. I’m so tired of your lies and promises. What have you ever given me besides heartache? Get your raggedy ass away from me and don’t ever bother me again.” This is what I screamed inside my head. Silence……. So I enjoyed my shower with some trepidation, because I spoke back. I know what’s coming… As a child, I remember what happened and have the physical proof of what happened when I talked back.
I slept well that night. When I woke, I felt like I did when I was a child when mommy said, “You just wait until your father gets home.” I know there’s hell to be paid and I’m holding an express ticket. Come what may, I’m done. I’ve got my mental black belt now, bud. You’ve given me many ass whooping, but I’ve been studying. Bring it.
And well, he brought it. “Good job, son. Get yourself a pinch like you alway do first thing in the morning. You sure told me.” Mentally, I retorted, “Get away from me!!” Then I thought to myself, you think I’m playing huh? So I went around and found all the cans I had all over the house and dumped them in the trash, then I took it out to the curb. When you’re done, you’re done and you don’t want that stuff around you. I would always hold onto a can before. I learned it was a subconscious “just in case.” You know you’re serious when you throw it away and feel no regret.
Somewhere along this time I looked up Kill the Can, again. Yes, I’ve been here before. I got on the roll call and never missed a day. A hundred days? Holy cow. How many times have I failed? Well, this time is different. All I have to do is log the days. I’m not breaking this time.
I didn’t tell anyone for awhile. It wasn’t because I was afraid I would fail. No, it was because I didn’t want to hear the negativity. You’re quitting again? Yeah, sure. That means you’re going to be a jerk for awhile? On and on……
I’m not quitting. I’ve quit. Notice the difference. I’m not struggling with the decision. I don’t have to convince anyone. A lion doesn’t have to tell you he’s a lion. I’m not trying to quit, I already quit; done, finito, game over.
My eleven year old daughter was the first person I told. Even she had a brief look of “Oh yea?” I showed her the app I have on my phone to count the days. “Honey, I want to be around to see you grow up, get married and have kids.” She then smiled and asked, “ So you’re never going to do that stuff again?” My eyes narrowed slightly and my lips tightened. “I can’t promise you I never will again, sweetheart, but I can promise you that I won’t today.” She beamed ear to ear. “I’m so proud of you daddy.”
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow and neither do I have control over it. I can control my actions today, however. One day at a time. When cravings arose, I gave myself permission to do anything healthy: beef jerky, candy, sunflower seeds, whatever. It helped.
I bought packs of gum and chewed until I thought my jaw would lock up. I spit seeds until my cheeks were raw. You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t cave. I didn’t fold. You do whatever you have to do, but you don’t quit.
The strangest thing is the roof of my tongue would spasm, having a Nic fit. Drink juice, water, tea, anything. It helps. Anything with a strong flavor, especially mint, like gum or candy will make it subside some, enough.
Besides gum, I bought green tea mints. I kept them in my pockets always. I like green tea and they don’t burn my mouth after awhile like Altoids. They aren’t loaded with sugar like pure candy to give your mouth that slimy feeling after awhile.
I was self conscious of the tongue spasm. It would always happen at the wrong time. Although nobody ever said anything, I did get some strange looks. It felt like when you leave the dentist and you’re still numb from the novocaine. You talk funny.
What about the nervous energy? I started running every morning I was off work. Other than help with anxiety, it gave me something to do, besides ruminate. When the thoughts come, squelch them. Don’t entertain them, not even for a second. Tell them why they’re a liar.
When we fail at something, we can trace it back to that one moment, right? WRONG! There were countless thoughts that slipped by, unchecked. Every time you catch one and squish it, you’re building mental muscle. Why is this important? You are facing many battles ahead, friend and every one you win brings you closer to victor and away from victim.
When you’re in the fight and you feel like you’re losing, remind yourself of your victories. You’ve always beat yourself up and that hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. Learn to be your own cheerleader. “I beat you and I’ll do it again.”
How about if you lose a fight? Are you defeated? No, get up and get back in the ring. Nothing wants to stand in front of relentlessness. The only way to guarantee failure is if you give up trying. Remember pain is temporary, glory is forever. Winners never quit and quitters never win. Give up the quit or continue. Both hurt but only one brings success.
As it’s told, Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before he was successful in making the first lightbulb. We’d still be in the dark if he gave up. How long would most of us try before we give up? Ten times, maybe twenty? Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots. Do you thing he’s a failure? Fall seven times, stand up eight. I might lose today, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m gonna show up again tomorrow and give it everything I’ve got. Eventually, I’ll win. Bet against me, that’ll be fun.
These battles are about more than addiction. You are going to fight so many demons in your head. There are a mountain of fights before you and you have to be ready to fight to the death. That Nic monster is……He’s gonna hit you right where it hurts. He knows all your weaknesses. Remember this: those thoughts AREN’T YOU! They are the Nic monster trying to get in your head and convince you. That can’t happen unless you believe it.
Here’s the thing. My strength didn’t always feel like strength.
Oftentimes it felt like fear. Like anxiety. Like crippling depression.
It felt like I couldn’t go on. It felt like giving up. It felt like folding under the pressure. It felt like screaming and crying and tearing at my scalp. During the hardest times of my life, my courage didn’t feel much like courage at all. But it didn’t matter what it felt like. Because I refused to let anything beat me.
Your mind is a bully. What happens if you stand up to a bully? They run!
Yea, but what if……….Well, when you get sick and tired of your own shit, you’ll change. Whatever the cost, I’m done. I’m tired of running. Alcoholism took my father to an early grave. COPD took my mom way too early. The addiction dysfunction stops here. What are YOU waiting for? How many battles have YOU won today?