As I was leaving the Masonic Cancer Clinic with my next round of Chemo I saw a nurse exit and pull a cigarette to her lips and light. I was struck by the irony of what I was witnessing. Someone working at a cancer clinic imbibing in what could transform her from employee to patient. But that is what addiction does, it causes us to ignore the reality of whatever we are engaging in. Be it overeating, porn, compulsive shopping, we ignore the negative impacts it has on us and those around us.
Minnesota's own Halloween Alaska's James Diers said it well, "We descend so easily. And give it up for short-term memory." It makes me think about how after losing 50 pounds I stress ate my way through hard times and put it back on. With no thought for the work I put in, or how good it felt to be at the weight I was, I would engulf ridiculous pb&j sandwiches for that momentary "good" feeling.
Rewind a couple weeks back and you would find me back at the clinic chatting with another cancer patient. A kind fellow who was battling cancer that was the result of years of smoking. Want some more irony? He had recently kicked the habit and was phasing out nicotine patches when he found out. I can't imagine kicking a habit like that only to have it throw one final and most likely fatal blow.
The reality is that most of our additions don't end fatally, but they do have negative consequences in our present day lives. The guilt and shame that comes with porn; the constant pull for a smoke, the painful need to gossip about something that is none of your business. Those affect us now, imprisoning and pulling us away from those who love us, sometimes putting us in debt, or leading us to other addictions. Those things cause us harm in the here and now.
It is staggering how giving in for "short-term memories" can cause us so much pain. It can cause us to push away those that love and want to help us. That can lead us to hurting ourselves to get the next fix. And worst of all can lead us to our death.
I have to be honest I wanted to judge that nurse, to post a snarky comment on facebook, but very quickly I was reminded of the things I have dealt with and am still fighting with myself. And suddenly I felt empathy for her, I bet she has thought about the irony, and I would put money on the fact that she has tried many times to break the cycle.
So I will close with this, an assignment of sorts. Think about what addictions you deal with and confront it. If it is something a bit more daunting might I recommend counselling, feel free to ask me. I know a few counselling centers and counselors that would be worth connecting with. If it is something a bit less daunting maybe confide in a friend and have them hold you accountable. I will make this statement with full confidence. If you want to break a cycle of addiction big or small you can't do it alone, find someone that will chat with you and encourage health.