You are in a game of poker, sitting opposite you is a master at the game. You have gone several rounds and he has won all of them. He is looking at you, his eyes boring into yours, his face is expressionless, betraying nothing. He is sitting in a relaxed manner and he takes his eyes off you to take a sip from his glass.
Your heart is pounding furiously and your throat is dry. All around, silence reigns as all eyes are fixed on you, waiting for your response. Your opponent has bet all his winnings from the evening and in the centre of the table is a castle of coins. The decision is yours, to call or fold.
You know that your opponent is good at bluffing and he has used that in previous rounds but you can’t tell whether he is bluffing or not. You look at the cards in your hands and something tells you that they are good enough. You disagree, you had been sure too in the previous games and you had lost still. Not this time, the voice in your head replies.
Your opponent arches his eyebrows as he prods you for a decision and looks at his wristwatch that was gleaming from the light from the candelabra overhead. What are you going to do? His eyes asks. You look at your cards once again and make a choice.
You push your stack to the centre of the table.
All in. your life is at stake.
He drops his cards on the table and for a moment you stare, transfixed. Just for a moment. Slowly, a smile breaks out on your face, starting from the corners of your mouth and reaching your eyes. You drop your cards on the table. It’s a flush.
Your opponent stares unbelievingly as you offer your hand for a handshake. You had lost all day but you had won the most important game and had emerged the winner.
Dealing with addictions is akin to a game of poker. The stakes are high and your opponent is a master at the game. To win, you have to be all in, to stake your life in your fight for freedom. You have to call its bluff because most times, you have all it takes to win. Only you don’t always realize it. Or feel it. Most times you fold when the stakes are raised.
It doesn’t matter how many rounds you have lost to the deadly habit and the things that you hold dear that have slipped through your fingers- friends, family, job, etc. the game isn’t over yet. You are still alive and you still have one more fight left in you.
This time around, you have to be all in; no half measures. No self-doubt. No folding.
Let us hear from victor:
“I had tried many times to quit. Making the decision comes easy most times; the addiction was killing me and it was obvious that I needed to stop. In the few days and even weeks following the decision, my determination would be strong and I would stay sober and happy. Then as the weeks go by, I would begin to take things for granted. I would allow myself to think that I had now become a master and that nothing could ever make me to revert back to the deadly habit. I would become careless and begin to take risks. At this stage, it would only be a matter of weeks before I slide back.
Several years after giving up on ever breaking the habit, I decided to try again. This was after I had reached the rock bottom and told myself that it wouldn’t hurt to try. I was ready to try but I wanted to do things differently. But I didn’t know what.
Then one day, the answer came to me.
It was on a Saturday morning and I had been struggling with the urges and cravings and I had become frustrated. It had been a difficult week prior to that day and I had struggled all through the week and was tired. I wondered if I would be able to keep on with the sobriety.
While brooding and trying to take my mind off the mental images swirling around in my mind, it occurred to me that staying sober was a process. It required an ongoing commitment from me every day and every time I feel the temptation to go back. It was a war, one that I must constantly fight in order to remain sober.
Breaking the force of a habit isn’t a one-time thing, I realized. Each day, my mind and body wants to slide back into its usual routine, which includes the habit, and each day I have to resist it. Some days are going to be harder than the other, like I have discovered. Some days, I would be distracted with work or something else, and on others, it will be like the universe had connived to make it impossible to scale through; every sight, sound and images will remind me of the habit.
And on one such day, that Saturday I had an epiphany and I knew what to do. I was in a fight and it wasn’t going to be easy but then I am all in. I was going to have to fight the urges every day. I was willing to give whatever it takes to remain sober.
I decided not to be dormant anymore. Whenever my mind gets flooded with the images and the intense desire to indulge, rather than being passive, I will fight. For as long as it takes, whether I am weak or tired.
Fortunately, I am not alone. I have recruited God’s help. With my determination and His strength and grace, I know I will pull through”
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