Addiction is a topic very close to my heart.
I wrote this piece shortly after my 37th birthday in 2014…
A few weeks ago, a couple of new girlfriends and I were chatting about us changing our lives for the better. I say ‘new’ because we only recently got to know each other. And I told them my story of how I quit smoking after 17 years. I loved to smoke! I used to buy cigarettes by the carton, so that I would not be in a position where I ran out. Just like how I would always leave the house with a fresh pack of cigarettes. Before returning to Singapore from Glasgow, I even called my contact to check if I could still order cigarettes. And I could. “Standby 2 cartons, please.”
One of the girls said that she never knew I used to smoke. And how would she? I live my life very differently now. I used to do many things… drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, party a lot, sometimes up to 5 nights a week. I used to sleep late and wake up later. Being late for work was the norm. I used to eat a lot of fast food and junk food. I loved candy — especially chewy ones, and I loved potato crisps. Yum! I would eat them, A LOT! I also loved McDonald’s. It was my favorite supper food. I could eat it everyday.
Life was different then.
Life then was a life of addiction, going round and round in circles. I was addicted to nicotine & other drugs, gambling, and relationships. To feed my addict lifestyle, I have begged, borrowed and stolen. I behaved in unbecoming ways just to get what I want so that I could feel ‘good’ and be ‘happy’. Life, as I have learnt, is not about what we want or what we like.
Allen Carr’s book, Easy Way to Stop Smoking, brought to the forefront for me the behavior of an addict. As I read it, I could see myself and the ugly picture of addiction that I had been portraying as a cigarette smoker. It was easy to see the ill effects of heroin addiction. But with nicotine addiction, the behavior patterns are ever so subtle and deeply ingrained. Because the addiction to nicotine is socially acceptable. After reading the book, I decided that I did not want to be addicted… to anything.
I used to think I was a very organised person. But when I lived by myself in Glasgow, my organisational skills turned to obsessive-compulsive behavior, which is also a form of addiction. One of the things I loved to do was to turn whatever bottles I had in the house so all the labels faced outwards, so I could read them. Like in a shop. haha. I never thought anything of it until I moved in with the boyfriend. We watched a programme on TV about obsessive-compulsive one day and we realized that that was me! I wasn’t just being a neat freak, I had issues!
Addiction is tied to one’s sense of value.
If you cared for yourself, you will not allow yourself to fall prey to addiction because the consequences of addiction, any type of addiction, are harmful to your being. So, I guess I was terribly insecure and I completely undervalued myself, leading me to move from one type of dependency to another.
Depending on my partners led to many heart breaks. At 19, my partner left me for a younger, sexier version of me. I was a tomboy. Once, I was so in love with a guy that I was completely blinded to the emotional abuse and control he had over me. I was completely oblivious to his nasty ways and him cheating on me, for almost a year till I found out. I’ve had 2 relationships end because they had to go to jail… for a very long time.
I consider myself really lucky because I was given the gift of perspective and awareness. Somehow, some way, at some point I have always been provided with the view from the outside, allowing me to see the bigger picture and the destruction I was causing myself, and therefore eventually seeing the need for change. I have met people who are stuck in their own addictions and are not able to see beyond them. They don’t even recognize their own destructive addict behaviours. They are trapped in their own minds, running in circles… forever chasing after sensations that feel ‘good’ and running from sensations that feel ‘bad’.
That is addiction.
A friend said to me the other day, “You sound like you’ve been to hell and back”. He really surprised me because I had just been thinking that way.. The past year has been about me getting out of hell (in my head) and realising my own truth. As I embarked on a journey of self recovery and discovery, I have met many different types of people who have provided me with such valuable life lessons and insight.
The most important lesson in my adventures the last year is that of humility.
There are many people out there who hurt so much more than I do. And there are many who are still hurting. So many who have difficulty in understanding and accepting their own lives as it is; who live in guilt, shame and fear. They remind me of a me I had almost forgotten.
I didn’t wake up one day and voila! suddenly I become an epitome of health (as a friend puts it). I have put in years of effort and am prepared to continue doing so, whether I like it or not, because the results… well, they speak for themselves.
It has been an interesting journey thus far which I look back on with great appreciation, and I now look forward with a smile.
Want to know more about how you can benefit from my experiences? Let’s talk… Drop me a line.