The “what ifs” of life

Last year I wrote about the fears of addiction.  Hear again is a look into the daylight.

Daylight

“I never wanted to stop, because I don’t want to start all over, start all over

I was afraid of the dark, but now it’s all that I want, all that I want, all that I want

And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go”  – Maroon 5

We may see destructive behaviors in others or even ourselves and wonder why it doesn’t stop.  For example, you may watch people coughing violently, but then still go out to smoke.  You know it could kill them and armed with such knowledge you would think they would stop.  Most people know it too, but they can not stop.  Perhaps they are addicted to the nicotine.  Perhaps it calms their nerves in an otherwise stressful day.  Perhaps they can not see how they will be able to give it up, considering what they may have to go through to do it.  Surely it is worth the effort, you might think.  The smoker, however, can not see the light on the other side of the struggle.  They continue, perhaps, with all the good intentions of giving it up later.  Some pay a price much higher than the taxes that are constantly levied of cigarettes.

This happens in other areas of “addiction” also.  It could be alcohol or drugs.  Surely a life filled with hangovers and recoveries would be a lifestyle worth giving up.  The knowledge that over indulgence can ruin your liver or fry your brain ought to be enough to stop, you may say to yourself, but stopping one thing would mean you would have to replace all that time with something else.  What if  you could not imagine what that something else would be?  What if you think you are at least having some fun, and perhaps you will have no fun if you just stop.  Then what kind of life do you have?

Some people find themselves in abusive relationships.  The abuse could take many forms.  We may think that these people would run from these situations at the first opportunity.  We may find ourselves quite surprised when they don’t.  I am not talking about children who are easily manipulated, but adults who act like they are stuck.  Perhaps they are stuck, by the fear of the alternative.  If it is the only life they have known, they may not wish to attempt any other.

More startling are those who engage in self-destructive behavior by taking unnecessary risks that seem calculated to bring disaster.  Even worse are those that cut themselves or inflict other harm on their own bodies.  Why do they do it?  Are they mentally ill?  Maybe they are, or maybe they just are hurting so bad that the additional pain is nothing in comparison.  This may be the way of letting us know.

Some, however, may just want to die, so they feel any of these destructive behaviors are fine to them.  They may be calling out for help, or they may just see no daylight in their lives.  So why give this up when they see nothing else?  If there is no hope, there is no reason.  If you are afraid of what you will find in the daylight, you may wish to stay in the dark.  In recent years, we have seen teens, mere children, commit suicide because they had no hope.  Bullying and abuse may have hurt so much, that they could not take another day.  There was no “down the road.”  There was no daylight.  There was no “It gets better.”  There was just destructive behavior.

I do not preach at the smokers, aside from occasionally pointing out that my parents gave up smoking.  My father died of lung cancer and my mother had a stroke.  I recall growing up to ashtrays filled with cigarettes around the house.  As for other “vices,” I will admit to some overindulgence along the way.  I always think I would have to wear a guilty face to point out problems to someone else.  I do see things more clearly in the daylight so I tend to moderation a little more now.   Of course my doctor may not agree when he gets my cholesterol count.  I guess that means I should not have so many chicken wings with Sunday night baseball or football.

Crime generally takes a jump in bad economic times.  It is for the same reasons that we saw more gang activity in poor neighborhoods or among the poorly educated in the past and still see it today.  If you see no chance of getting ahead on your own, you may be willing to take the type of risks that go with crime.  Big cities can put task forces and gang units on patrol, but without hope the gang activity continues.  We see it end in violence for some.  There are innocent ones too who get caught in the cross fire.  If you can not walk out into the sunlight and have hope shine through, then maybe the fear of getting carried out in a body bag is little fear at all.

We desperately need to offer hope to those in fear of their addictions, their “friends”, schoolmates, parents, their circumstances in life.  We need to show that daylight is not something to fear.  The tough choice to leave a lifestyle you know can mean replacing it with something better.  “I never wanted to stop, because I don’t want to start all over, start all over,” but starting all over can be possible.  “I was afraid of the dark, but now it’s all that I want, all that I want, all that I want,” because that is all that I know.  “And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go,” but that should be nothing to fear.  It get’s better when you let the daylight in.  I swear to you, “It gets better.”

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8 thoughts on “The “what ifs” of life

  1. Wow! Great post and can relate! Grew up with both parents smoking and lost my father to lung cancer 20 years ago. My mother quit 19 years ago and was recently (Sept 2013) diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s doing great with treatment and the tumors are shrinking. I’ve never smoked because of the nasty smell and cig butts in ashtray growing up. ICK!!

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  2. I didn’t start smoking when everyone else did, but somehow wound up starting in my mid 30s, then spent the next 20 years quitting. Smoking is terribly addictive. Physically AND pscyhologically. I know someone who had an easier time giving up heroin than cigarettes. I don’t judge. But I do encourage anyone who is trying to quit — it’s a lot harder than people think. A LOT harder.

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  3. My grandfather began smoking at the age of nine and was never able to quit. When I was about five or six, he took me in his lap and said, “[Cimmy], if you ever smoke, I will haunt you from the grave.” He never said anything he didn’t mean, so even if I wasn’t a Mormon, I wouldn’t smoke. He died shortly after this pronouncement. Brain cancer. I miss him.

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