We are all guilty of finding pleasure in the wrong things; it’s what humans do.
For much of my life, it's been the standard cigarettes and alcohol. These vices show how easily we’re lead to feel guilty for seeking pleasure in something, but also, how easily the feeling of guilt is tinged with pleasure.
Just think if your guilty pleasure was going to the gym too much.
Until recently, I didn't realize that my third vice was getting caught up with the wrong men, and the way I felt about a certain man was similar to what I felt about any other vice I had — particularly smoking.
As a smoker of six years, I know I didn't just get to be an addict. It all began with a pastime that appeared to be completely under my control. Ultimately, it became a full-blown addiction, as I went through as much as two packs a day.
From then on, every human emotion and activity had to be accompanied by this disgusting habit. God forbid I should go on a 12-hour flight just to land at an airport that didn't have a smoking lounge.
This process is very much like getting involved with the wrong guy, which starts out feeling casual, like the first few cigarettes you took from a friend just to fit in and look cool.
One thing leads to another and soon, you dive in and eventually hit rock bottom in utter submission of your harmful indulgence. Going back up, back to your former, unaffected self now requires triple the strength it took to go down, if not more.
Before you know it, you've developed a habit of seeing that man who’s as fatal to your mental and emotional health as smoking is to your physiological health.
For a while, it feels good to be his and him, yours. There's an undeniable chemistry between the two of you that consumes you more than you'd like to admit.
You can feel the butterflies all the way to the tips of your fingers, and it fuels your desire for him. It's irrational and illogical, and while you don't know why you want it, you just know you do.
Maybe it's because he knows how to make you laugh, knows you inside out and often teaches you things you didn't know before.
You feel like he takes care of you, and there's an effortless comfort that exists between the two of you. Who knows?
This pleasure is reflected in the ritual of smoking that begins with you packing your cigarettes, which is foreplay for what will feel like an orgasm in your bloodstream as soon as you light the cigarette and inhale.
It is that exact moment when the smoke coats your lungs, ushering in the surge of nicotine that courses through your veins, making you exhale a sense of relief that hugs the smoke.
Getting your fix not only feels fan-f*cking-tastic, it also numbs your limbs and sedates your mind. It feels sexy.
However, with each subsequent drag of your cigarette, the euphoria becomes less prominent and more just like a chore of putting something in your mouth and sucking it. You stop when you no longer crave the hit -- until after a lapse of time, when you need it again.
It ends up resembling a game of hard-to-get between you and your cigarette, much like the one you play with the wrong man.
The exhilaration of being with that man dies down once you've gotten your fix of all the superficial things he does to please you. Sooner or later, his true nature will surface, which is when the thrill will wear off for you.
He starts to disregard you and lie to you without remorse, making his presence in your life as empty as his promises.
You will eventually see that you're just a glorified companion who has been fooled into believing you are the love of his life.
Even the smug smile on his face that you've come to love becomes something that's just as crooked as what he's up to behind your back is sketchy.
You go from happy to hurt and hopeful to hopeless in an instant, which is your cue to end things.
Except, it’s only a matter of time until you fall for his ploy again. His words are his weapon against you, and it is what lures you in time and time again.
Before you know it, things between you two will have gone back and forth senselessly and too many times to count. He is a lesson you had to learn so many times that it makes you sick just to think about it.
It's a perpetual game with smoking and with that man; the main thing the two have in common is that the one who ends up getting hurt is you.
Everyone gets caught up in unhealthy indulgences, which may make us feel entitled to them. However, the thing about having vices is that everyone else having them doesn't justify you having yours.
You have to realize that all the good feelings are fleeting lies. The sensation you get from smoking leads directly to lung cancer and the butterflies you feel from that man lead directly heartbreak.
There's no winning this game. You have to end it before you get played -- again.
One day I stared at the cigarette I was smoking, erect between my fingers, bewildered to notice that I was addicted to smoking a stick of grass (even though it’s more like a stick of carcinogenic chemicals used for rat poison and lighter fluid and what not).
How could I be so inferior to that stick of grass? Surely, I am above something this small and pathetic. It was now or never. I chose now, and I quit.
Unfortunately, the train of thought that led me to quitting the man didn't occur so seamlessly. It took years of emotional toil in the harmful relationship for me to arrive at the quitting point, but the motivation was all the same: I am above something this small and pathetic.
Quitting a man is just like quitting smoking: It has to happen cold turkey. You shouldn't wait until you're ready (because you'll never be), and you should never, ever look back.
Remind yourself that you can’t always trust how you feel to tell you what to do. Just as you can’t trust your brain to tell you that you want that cigarette enough to need it, you can’t trust your heart to tell you that you love that man enough to be with him.
Giving some things up will seem daunting and impossible at first, and you might even resent yourself for getting in too deep, but don't. This is a blessing in disguise because in life, you need the lows to keep you aiming high.
There will be times when you'll want to scratch the old itch, and if it requires every ounce of integrity you have to resist it, then that it shall take. Like I said, never look back. When you feel a temptation, force yourself to look further beyond.
Seeing a happy and healthy life ahead should always supersede your desire to get your temporary fix now.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It