“My secret is out, now I can finally quit!” These are the words that go through an addict’s head the second that his secret using or hidden bad behavior is discovered. It doesn’t matter what your addiction is, be it drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, women, crime…they are all the very same in your head.
Every day you go about your business normally as you can, and when it comes time to deal with the demon you put a little marker in the sand just a step or two ahead of where you are. That marker says “Quit here”. Maybe it’s when this bottle is empty and you say you won’t buy another one. If it is food, then it is the hidden store of sweets that is all gone. If you have people you love then you will think about how much you will hurt them if you don’t get quit before you get caught. That moving marker is the demon winning another round.
Getting caught is another marker in the sand. It is another chance to do the right thing for yourself. It is a chance to once again become honest with yourself and the world. There is danger on the road ahead but now, with everything once again in the open, there is a chance to go forward without any guilt. Now your only hurdle is that DAMNED voice in your head that says, “you will break again, might as well be now”. It says “why suffer, using just a little bit doesn’t hurt anyone”. It says “you have quit for a long time, give yourself this one treat”. It says, “you are your own boss, are you not? Then be a man.” Except you can’t be a man, you have to hide, so that no one gets hurt, because you are not going back to doing it all the time in the open, you just want this one. Hiding is the demon making plans for his comeback. A secret is a way of life.
You can’t blame anyone else for your demon. It is strictly your own. If you get discovered you might want to say “mind your own business,” but that is the demon talking. If you get angry it is the demon wanting what it wants. You might be tempted to use getting discovered as a reason to give up all efforts to quit. That is a victory for the dark side.
That voice is the enemy of the good life. A person has to be able to reckon with that tiny voice, the devil on the left shoulder. It only wants what it wants, and can’t see the future, even though it claims it can. That voice only cares about the moment. It creeps in in tiny steps. It makes little plans on the way to getting you set to continue the old life.
Keeping a pack of cigarettes hidden in your car–just in case. This was the Voice’s idea. You are one step closer to giving it what it wants. The angel on your right shoulder knows what the left is up to. You will remind yourself that you shouldn’t take even a minuscule step in that direction, because that is the slippery slope you are always hearing about. At any point on the curve you can step off the merry go round, but every time you don’t you are still on the ride.
That demon will tell you that your life is a wreck and that the only hope is to hold the secret dear. It is making sure that you will keep on operating in the dark. It wants what it wants, and the enemy of the demon is daylight. Everything out in the open, everything aboveboard is going to mean that the demon lost.
Your life is not a wreck. At this very moment you can listen to the dark whispering and call the demon out. “I don’t want to buy any cigarettes, because I don’t want to smoke. I don’t want to gamble because I hate losing. I don’t want to drink, because it makes me feel rotten.” You are not a bad person, you do things that you don’t really want to do, but that does not make you bad. Eating a snack cake in secret is a symptom of something, but it is not a symptom of you being evil or weak. You are stronger than your habits, but you are not exercising your strength.
Breaking every habit is exactly the same. Here is the process. You know when you are thinking about doing something that will put you on the path to hidden behavior…when you have that thought, say to yourself “there is one of those times”. Even thinking something that simple breaks your train of thought. If you are standing in the candy aisle looking at a box of sweets, just stand there. Think to yourself, this is where it begins, right here. Even standing here is an act of the demon. Right then it is easy to step back and say that going that way leads into an area that is hard to get out of.
I know that these things are easier to say than they are to do. Believe me I know, but I have broken habits. I will break more in the rest of my life. As a compulsive person I tend to get into habits, and as a thoughtful person I tend to obsess on my sins. I suffer when I am not doing good, and suffering leads me into not doing good. The cycle is vicious and the solution is easy to dream about. Life is long. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t change for your loved ones, do it for yourself.