Monday, March 29, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Some ‘Old Friends’

SUBSTANCE USE OR ABUSE PROBLEMS and a whole raft of self-control issues, and the person’s fight with them, are characterised by a cyclic phenomenon: the continual ‘saying goodbye to those “old” friends’—friends, mind you, that cling hard to the person trying to escape them. This describes anything from a bad habit taken hold to dependency to full-strength addiction.

Why do I know? I’ve been in the cycle of saying goodbye to some old friends—I’ve done it dozens of times. This would be an outrageously conservative statement.

Yet, saying goodbye defeats the purpose—if there is a problem of dependence or addiction it’s a waste of time rationalising with a “goodbye” to the substance or endeavour we’re so in amid of; this is simply because it’s our very nature to forever put off the action we feel most of the time we need to take.

And the madness is this: we vacillate violently between poles on a mental/emotional roller coaster. We go from wanting to give up and saying goodbye ‘one last time,’ and the moment we consume or partake we’re duped right there—and we know... ‘Oops, I did it again,’ as the Britney Spears song would go.

One of the worst things when I was in this cycle was I felt like not only should I have responded better, I knew better. I was a professional advocate against these issues in a workplace environment. This only increased my shame. Where was my sense of self-control? I felt I didn’t have any.

And though it was always nice to delay that thing that I felt—on the one hand it was a discretionary thing to stop, on the other (for my long term health and sanity and to deal with the almost constant cognitive dissonance) I didn’t really have a choice—I was in a mental no-man’s-land.

We always like to come back to those things ‘of home’ that make life comfortable, familiar and easier to bear, don’t we?

The wisdom, however, that says, ‘I give that thing away now, I’m “saying goodbye,”’ is vast because it recognises, without a drastic change, the rocks will loom larger—and though they’re still some distance off—we’re almost certainly destined to be marooned against them if we don’t do something, now.

But, it’s a tough call for the person with the problem. They’re easily confused. Their allegiances are split seemingly down the middle.

The bizarre thing with dependency issues is there’s no law against it. There’s no law stopping the consumption of a thing or the partaking of it, or any endeavour (for instance, gambling). It has less direct impacts that impinge on health, be they physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or relational.

The worst of the problem, when we’ve said goodbye to the old friend i.e. we’ve had ‘one last go at it,’ is we come from a position of weakness, not strength. We’re depressed and certainly at a low ebb so far as our self-esteem is concerned.

Of course, to give the thing up before we say goodbye in the way mentioned just above i.e. we don’t have ‘one last go,’ requires the courage of sacrifice—to miss out—but in this we draw a direct moral strength that helps our burgeoning resolve. And it’s a firm resolve we most need.

The truth is you can live without the thing. Millions do so every day—and they’re happy. Decide now, not afterwards. One day at a time, with the right mind, love and support, you can beat this thing.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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