For the past three weeks, my mind and I have been at each other’s throats, and I’m quite sure I’m going to have to fucking kill it before it’s all said and done…Three weeks ago I quit my love affair with nicotine, and it’s been one hell of a ride. Not only do you feel like shit physically, but there’s a constant battle raging in your head trying to keep (or regain) control of your mind. The one thing that I have learned over battling multiple addictions is that before you quit any substance, you have to recognize that your mind is not “you”. During the process of withdrawal, there is a definitive break between the spiritual “you” and the physical / mental “you”. It’s a hard and lofty concept to understand. Most people don’t which is one of the reasons they can’t break through their addiction. I believe it’s vital to recovery and ultimately success in general.
Whether you are religious or not, there is no denying that if you don’t have a concept of a “God” or some type of higher realm of being, that the odds are stacked against you even higher than other addicts. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible; it just makes things much more difficult. It doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as it’s something other than yourself. Anyone that has ever gone through the withdrawal process knows that it rips you to pieces. It stretches you in more directions than you should mentally be able to stretch. What’s left of you is only a fragment of the person you were before you quit whatever you were addicted to. In a way it feels that you are actually wrestling with a demon for possession of your mind, shifting back and forth from good to evil multiple times a day, trying to not let it steal your soul. Scary shit, right? Well yeah, but there’s no other way to describe it. Every time I see the ending of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it makes me think of addiction. Harry has been wrestling with his past all throughout the movie, afraid that because he has a connection to Lord Voldemort, he will become evil just like him. After Voldemort realizes he is going to be unable to defeat Dumbledore, he goes after Harry’s mind. Harry is suddenly battling for control over his mind, trying to keep evil from overtaking him. Ultimately, love wins out, and Harry is able to not listen to the voices of hate in his head. This is a perfect portrayal of addiction.
In order for Harry to defeat and remove Voldemort from his mind, he does not reach into his mind. He reaches into his heart and spirit. He disconnects himself from the physical and retreats into the spiritual realm where he can’t be controlled. I believe this is the best way to handle addiction. Many people are not aware of what is about to take place when they stop a substance they are addicted to. You are about to be beaten into submission and forced on your knees. You can try to battle addiction head-to-head, but don’t expect to come out sober. If you can do it, more power to you. But I know I (and most people) can’t. I have to have something more than human nature to defeat human nature. Harry doesn’t try to overpower Voldemort. He knows there is no way he can. Volemort is just too powerful for him. Instead, he fights him with something that he doesn’t have and that is a soul. Addiction is a powerful beast, but just like Voldemort, it doesn’t have a soul.
All too often, we start off with good intentions. I’m going to kick this habit, lose weight, advance my career, etc. but somewhere we lose our way and go right back to where we were. I believe a lot of this is caused by being attached to our mind. We believe that our mind is “us”, that the thoughts going through our heads are actually what we feel and believe. Most of the time that is true, but when we face adversity or hardships, sometimes it isn’t. At some point, the mind attaches itself to the body. You start off wanting nothing more than to be free from addiction. Withdrawal kicks in and you are able to hold out for a certain amount of time. Suddenly, something changes inside you. It’s too hard. Why the hell am I doing this anyways? This is just making me even more miserable than before. At least when I was using I was happy. I can’t, stop trying to believe you can. Yes, your mind turns against you. At this point, most people listen to those thoughts and assume that is how they actually feel. Their mind is “them”, so they listen to it. Then, they spend their days wondering why they can’t get sober. This is where the spiritual comes in. Recognize that the mind can only take you so far. At some point it is going to turn into your enemy and fight against you. At that point, you need a reservoir of power that the mind can’t touch to keep you moving forward.
This has been an extremely hard concept for me to understand, and I still have had to keep reminding myself it everyday the last few weeks when I’ve wanted nicotine bad. It also kept me drunk for a long time. I continued to tell myself that if my mind wasn’t on board, than I couldn’t be. If you are waiting for your mind to comply with “you” all the time, you’re going to die waiting. It’s a scary thing to accept, but ultimately you are not in complete control of your mind all the time. You can’t think yourself out of addiction, you must act. Your frame of mind is very important, but let’s face it…you’re going to have some fucked up days. You can try to stay positive as much as possible, but the addict mind is never consistent. Sometimes 95% of you wants sobriety; sometimes it drops below 5%. I don’t care how dedicated you are, if you have an addict mind, there are going to be days when you wake up pissed off and thinking “fuck the world”. In that moment, if you believe that your mind is “you”, it’s not going to take much convincing to give up.
Great post! And a great reminder that we are more than just our mind, but our mind likes to think it’s the only thing in control, our mind can certainly be power hungry as hell, so we must learn to be an observer of it. It’s like our mind needs our higher self to baby sit it and remind it “nooooooo, you can’t do that, that will cause you harm!” haha. Good luck on your quitting journey, it lasts a lifetime….you are doing wonderful already it sounds like 🙂 –Ilona