I’m back! Stuffed full of Christmas cookies and suffering a head cold (so I guess I’m stuffed full of snot as well as cookies…) I’ve got that post-Christmas ennui. Just want to lie on the sofa with a box full of tissues, under a fluffy duvet, and watch back-to-back BBC Dickens adaptions. (Bleak House anyone?) Call me when it’s 2014.
Yeah, New Years is coming. Which means it’s time to quit things. (New Years being like Lent only with gym memberships). Time to chuck what is bad for you, or at least promise to. Carbohydrates. Sloth. Booze. You know, all those things that sound really good right about now. No, no, no — you’re stronger than that.
So how about a New Year’s resolution to stop being a chump? Chuck the cheater. Quit pick me dancing. Give up spackle.
Don’t worry the usual resolutions about losing weight. Kicking the spackle habit sheds psychic pounds instantly.
But how to quit? How does anyone quit anything really? Force of will? Support groups? Gum? (Chump gum. There’s something I ought to invent. Instead of nicotine you get a synthetic version of hopium, to ease your cravings.)
Many years ago I had a single date with an addict, and it was a disastrous date, except that I found his addictions quite fascinating and spent the date interviewing the guy about how he quit things. Because he had many vices — and he quit all of them. He was quite keen to tell me how he did it. Years later, when I was kicking my cheater out of my life, it was much akin to kicking a drug. And weirdly, I thought of this bad date I’d had and the how to quit things conversation.
A little back story about the date — I was single then and my friend Dana from art class said she wanted to fix me up with her friend, who she knew I would like because he did crossword puzzles. I liked words. So, it was like kismet, and would I meet him, huh? Please?
Okay, I agree to coffee. We had nothing in common, turned out, other than crossword puzzles. He ran a nightclub. Not a fancy night club, but an edgy, punk nightclub. Cool if you were 22 like my friend Dana. Not so cool if you were a 37 year old single mom like I was then and you hate cigarette smoke and loud music.
Anyway, he was a nice person. He was just really, extravagantly emotionally sloppy. He told me EVERYTHING about himself. Like how he got his stomach pumped when he was 17 from alcohol poisoning, which is not a detail that endears a man as a suitor. FYI, gents. Every decade, he told me, he quit things. In his late teens, he quit drinking. In his 20s, he quit drugs. In his 30s, he quit smoking. In his 40s, he replaced his chemical addictions with exercise, so that he looked like an Olympic athlete from the neck down and from the neck up he looked like Keith Richards.
He had some pointers on quitting things, expert that he was, which I’ll pass on to you now. So hey, the date wasn’t a total loss.
1) Do so much of it, it makes you sick. When he was quitting drinking, he went on a binge. He really liked Guinness but he knew he could never drink Guinness again, because he had to quit drinking or his liver would go. So, as irrational as this is, he gave himself one last binge on Guinness, to the point he had to get his stomach pumped, so that all his good associations with Guinness became bad ones. Guinness = pumped stomach, poisoning.
My chump equivalent? I needed a big enough dose of my cheater to cure me. I suppose I required four D-Days to quit him. I had to puke my guts out, realize this isn’t fun any more, I really don’t love you, this hurts like a motherfucker, time to quit. Whatever good cheater associations I had were replaced with bad ones. Loving him = being cheated on.
2) Have little funerals for things. My addict date told me about a month or so before he gave things up, he had little funerals for them in his mind. “Today is the last time I will sit in this cafe and smoke a cigarette while doing the Times crossword.” “Today is the last time I will walk down this street smoking.” He felt bad about them. He grieved those moments. Each one. And he told himself — this is the last time you will do this, so soak it in. Good bye! Good bye!
My chump equivalent? I planned to leave my cheater months in advance. I had many little funerals in my head. (Which seems funny to me now. Christ, whatever did I think I was going to miss? I can’t even recall.) This is the last time I will go to this place with him, etc. It did help me let go. Gave it some ritual.
3) Replace your bad habit with a good habit. Addict date, as I mentioned, replaced his chemical addictions with exercise. He manically worked out, and I guess gets high off endorphins now.
The chump equivalent to me is — replace those sucktacular relationships with good ones. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you, who build you up, who love the parts of yourself that you love, those parts you’re most proud of. Dump the frienemies, the “neutral” halfwits, the energy suckers.
Replace spackle with clearsightedness, replace the pick me dance with the “I’ve retained a lawyer” boogaloo, walk away from the skein of fuckupedness and take up welding or organic farming instead.
Leave behind those bad chump habits. Have a little funeral in your head for your old chumpy self. And say hello to 2014 — it’s your year. What are you doing to celebrate?