Stephen Fahey: The Mountain

It’s been 100 days now since I smoked a cigarette. And I never thought I’d go 3 days, let alone 100. But I did. And that’s the thing: Honestly, I was the last person on Earth that I’d have bet money on to quick cigarettes, ever! I still get nicotine by vaping, but to not smoke a cigarette, specifically, was (without exaggeration) impossible only a few months ago.

I can’t overstate the magnitude of this shift, because I was a lost cause. And the reason I’m telling you all of this is simple: Things may seem to be all Trump and no Putin, like insurmountable facts of solid stone, or mountains of razorblades, but they are not. It was me that was the problem. Not the mountain. Not the cigarettes. Not my weakness. Not the twenty years of addiction. And not even the stupid choice I made to start smoking in the first place. I, myself, was the problem.

To change, I had to actually do it. But I didn’t want to. I was afraid. I thought that I was afraid of the pain involved in stopping. But when I really thought about it, I realised that I was afraid of failing. Because smoking in the first place was a failure in itself and I couldn’t take any more failure. So I made excuses.

It’s a slippery devil, addiction. It assumes so many forms that we seldom know we’re addicted to something until it’s too late. And we are all addicted to something, from food to technology, to sex and drugs and booze, we can even become addicted to people, self-destruction or alienation. Even a slow and painful death won’t stop addiction from working us over.

The only thing that makes any difference is the individual. And god damn are we practically helpless as individuals when it comes to addiction. It’s a mountain all its own – on top of the mountain of choosing, inside oneself, to endure the necessary. But equally, no one can stop us from enduring, for ourselves. The catch is that we have to do it alone in our heads and in our hearts.

Although I still use a vape, each day that I didn’t smoke bolstered me work towards coming off the vape, in earnest. One step leads to another. But the first step has to be taken, again, in earnest. I know it’s intimidating, and frustrating. But you can do it. I am proof that you can do it.

Whatever your own impossible mountain happens to be, you can climb it, you can stand tall on top of it, and you can stroll down the other side of it. It won’t be easy getting to the top, but you can actually do it! I know it’s scary, but I know that you want it bad enough to do it – otherwise it wouldn’t be annoying you the way that it is. So go and get it, whatever it is. It really is possible.

Stephen Fahey

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