“This addiction is like a jail cell, except it’s so nice and comfy…. there doesn’t seem to be any need to leave. It feels safe. The door is wide open…. or appears to be. Till one day, time runs out. The cell door slams shut. And suddenly, it’s too late.”
The above is not written by me but from a movie, still it explains how I’ve felt about my addiction very well. I’ve hid in that jail cell my entire adult life. At 33 years old, I’ve not known stress without nicotine since I was about 15 at which time my stressors and life were a bit different than the guy in the mirror I see now. I’ve not known a lot of things without nicotine. I’ve wanted out of that cell for years…. it seemed so safe though, a comfortable place to hide. Reality is it’s a place where you are told lies and given a false bill of goods.
When you fight your way to the door of that jail cell, your addiction throws the kitchen sink at you. It finds all your old demons and they are relentless. Chemically, your mind no longer knows happiness in a lot of ways. Your receptors which signal for dopamine and serotonin have been under nicotine’s thumb for so long, they don’t know how to function without it. It truly felt like I forgot how to be happy somedays during my first weeks of quit….and how to focus, and how to be patient, and how to sleep, and on and on. If you have been full to the teeth (literally) of a drug for your ENTIRE ADULT LIFE, how do you know who you will be without it? You sure you can be the dad / husband / professional / man / human you want to be without it? You sure you can handle life outside the safety of your cell? My addiction has many weapons and it’s favorites are deceit and insecurities. The above questions are just another slight of hand trick to show me back to my cell.
That’s how the addiction works; scares you and crushes you back into it’s cell. It lulls you into this false sense of weakness as it picks at your insecurities. It can feel hopeless. After many runs at the exit, I found a group of people who had found the map for an escape. And it was simple once you accept it – quit. Make a daily promise to stop hiding in the cell. And keep making that promise. One. Day. At. A. Time. Be accountable to that promise, to those men and women you are promising. When the addiction starts to whisper and pull you back to the cell, be accountable. Make the promise louder than the addiction.
And you know what? It fucking sucked. Bad. It was awful. But learning from this group of people who found the secret tunnel to freedom, I am slowly learning who I am and can be outside the cell of my addiction. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side, but in this case, the quit grass is fucking glorious. I love watching that cell grow dusty now. I love the fight as it tries to pull me in. Watching one of your devils wither isn’t a show that gets old and I watch that shit on repeat every day as I make my promise.
It wouldn’t be a hall of fame speech without thank-yous. First and foremost, thanks to my family. This shit got down right UGLY the first 100, but they showed patience beyond what I deserved. The Men of Mayhem 22 crew changed my life with their support. Many days they pulled me out of a gas station parking lot, out of the fetal position and back on my feet. You guys kept me accountable, and made sure I never felt alone with your brotherhood. The OGs constantly keeping me accountable and providing words of wisdom gave me legit hope a lot of days that I would like the person on the other side. To everyone I interact with daily in all the threads, thank you for finding space to be a friend on days when it was hard and I really didn’t even like myself.
I’m still an addict, that cell will always welcome me back. A promise must be made today and every tomorrow to keep me free; that promise is sacred.
100 days quit. Today I promise not to use nicotine with the Men of Mayhem and all the KTC quitters. Stay quit MoMs, let’s stack.