Long story short, I thought I had to do it all on my own.
I wouldn’t seek help from anyone, but instead resigned myself to “toughing it out.”
Well, at least when it came to coffee and cigarettes…
When I stopped viewing pornography, I knew I had to make immediate changes to my lifestyle, to my day-to-day routine.
I started by praying more regularly and more intently than I already was.
I learned very quickly to recognize the thoughts and feelings that led me to temptation.
Any time I felt even the slightest of cravings, I looked for something else to do, something positive, and meaningful, and uplifting.
I went to the gym every day.
I listened to music by Post Modern Jukebox and by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
I sought out opportunities for real, meaningful interaction with other people.
And I talked about my struggles, and how good it felt to be free from such a horrible addiction.
But with coffee and cigarettes… not so much.
When I quit those two addictions I did the opposite of all the above, the opposite of all the things a person should do to overcome an addiction.
I isolated myself in my room.
I withdrew from the people around me.
I wouldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, or what I was thinking.
I stopped going to the gym because I was too worried that I’d give in to my cravings, and buy a pack of cigarettes on the way home.
And, worst of all…
I stopped praying.
I was literally miserable when I stopped smoking and drinking coffee…
So much so, that I basically wound up convincing myself that I had to be miserable…
That I had to suffer through every painful, horrible moment of withdrawals…
That if I wasn’t suffering, then I wasn’t serious enough about quitting, and would ultimately go back to both addictions…
And that I owed it to myself, to the people around me, and to God…
To do it all on my own…
To prove that I was willing to suffer and to make myself miserable for as long as it takes, for all those miserable feelings to just magically go away.
I couldn’t ask for help, because I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve it.
I couldn’t engage in any meaningful or worthwhile activity, because doing so might just give me hope… and I wouldn’t allow myself to feel hopeful.
I couldn’t pray for help, or for peace, or for comfort… because I was so deeply convinced that I had to take on all the pain and the suffering myself, in order to prove to God that I was serious about wanting this.
(It sounds crazy to me, too, but that’s what happened.)
Nevertheless, in the midst of all that pain and suffering, I was able to abstain completely from coffee and cigarettes for a good eight or nine weeks.
And, truth be told, I wasn’t actually miserable 100% of the time. There were some occasions that did lift my spirits, and did bring me a bit of peace, and hope… But they were few and far between, and ultimately I always reverted back to,
“It doesn’t matter; life without coffee and cigarettes is just miserable, and always will be…”
After I gave up coffee and cigarettes, I was miserable almost all the time. I was suffering. I was pretty hopeless. And I would not allow myself to ask for help, or to engage in any activity that might actually make me feel better.
In that context, I guess the surprise is not that I relapsed… the surprise is that I held out for so long.
But, all of that was not for nothing.
Even though that whole time was miserable, and even though I’m smoking today, I still intend to quit smoking for good.
The fact that I slipped this month doesn’t mean I can’t do it.
After all, under normal circumstances, even when I go through most of my day feeling totally hopeless, I’ve already proven that I can do it.
It just means it’s gonna take me longer than I expected. And there’s probably gonna be more bumps in the road than I thought there would be.
Two months of total abstinence, coupled with two times this month of momentary relapse, just means I’m still learning how to live without the addictions. And now when I’m ready to go at it again, I’ll know where I went wrong this time around… and I’ll know more of what to do right, in order to keep moving forward.