“I don’t pay sales tax on things I… don’t buy!” It was about ten minutes until the store I wanted to go to was scheduled to open. I’d also been awake for over sixteen hours, needed to get home to write, and go to bed at a decent hour for work. Without even a moment of hesitation, I left, and next thought about the store about fifteen minutes later, without the slightest bit of regret.
The best and worst thing for maintaining one’s sobriety is employment. There is no better crutch to rest your mind upon than your employment, where any subconscious faults in your life can usually be reasonably blamed on some external factor like a boss, colleague, or situation. Yet that constant career pressure can break us down if we don’t moderate our workaholic tendencies. Spend an extra five minutes for polishing something? How about… five more minutes?
It started with a humble blue one. No harm. Just a little extra sugar to get me through the day. They’re just right there, free; easy. These little candies are innocent enough to where, before I realized it, I was instinctively eating handfuls each and every shift. Oops. So much for innocence. When times are hard, stress is everywhere, I know subconsciously look for little moments of respite, positive or not. Is there a fix?
It never truly goes away. Despite your best intentions, and no matter how good life might appear on the outside, it’s hard to address that inner anguish that might creep in subtly as one bad day after another, with a crash bang relapse, or just randomly. How can we address that stress if we don’t express it? How can we express that stress if we don’t know we’re in it? When the pain goes away?
It’s taken me 20 years to kick this addiction. Or, at least, not giving in daily. Since it’s difficult for me to write about this topic, this essay will probably be good for me. Unfortunately, I can’t find an easy way to say the problem directly. Similar to writing “My Penultimate Trip,” it’s a topic I’ve avoided, and I felt much better after writing that essay. Here goes: I no longer indulge in viewing pornography daily!
How did this happen? Is there a correlation between my childhood raised secondarily by videogames and my reality where much of it involves tempering my overexposure to reality to avoid finding myself in a drunken stupor? I doubt the hours I spent playing games like Mario, Final Fantasy, or EarthBound caused this. Encouraged an addictive framework? Perhaps. Spend another 10 minutes to level up, throw yourself to the mercy of inebriation, only to rinse and repeat?
What’s your comfortable limit? How much until you say to yourself “that’s enough” and actually call it enough? Do you know at what point you’ll go too far? For me (and possibly others), there’ll be an excuse planned out rather than a plan to excuse myself from the situation. We’ll take it as far as it’ll last. Even Wednesday, with an endlessly refilled coffee cup, I know I still have improvement room with my resolve.
Five years in March since I last drank any alcohol, five years in March since I last consumed any cannabis, and I just passed two years without taking anything that could affect my mind or body, other than caffeine or naproxen. This’s the one I’ve had the most trouble talking about because… how can I put it… …this is the counter that says I need to close any cheating loopholes. I am addicted to weakness.
Don’t run from your pain! Whether it’s a something physical like an injury or something mental like ennui, learn to embrace that pain. Pain will remind you of your motivations more than the seduction of any numbing pleasure. Pain will be with you always. Pleasure is fleeting and addicting. Pleasure will leave you in both your darkest hours and when everything seems wonderful, whereas when disciplined properly, pain will be motivation toward achieving your goals.