August 13, 2018 – Gregory Franklyn
I’m an addict. It’s not something I just discovered and it’s not something I’ve ever made an effort to hide, It’s just an admission that pertains to the point I want to make today. If you didn’t know that about me, it’s probably because you never asked. I’m not one of those folks who lead with something like, “Hi, I’m Gregory, I’m Gay and I’m an Addict.” I couldn’t tell you whether my case of addiction is hereditary or not either, because I’ll never know who my biological parents are or what their challenges may have been.
But I’m an addict and I learned that I’m an addict from my experience of quitting smoking in 1988. It’s probably important to note that I have since begun smoking again, but I was smoke free for roughly 8 years. Within 6 months of quitting I gained about 45 pounds. I decided that this was not cool because I looked SO delicious at 155. So, I started dieting.
What I learned from dieting is; one – there are not enough carrot sticks or celery stalks IN THE WORLD to make me stop wanting a good hamburger. And, two; diets are counterproductive. They will make you fat! After, roughly 8 different diets over as many years I weighed in at 251 pounds. That much weight was unsustainable for me because my knees and ankles, simply were NOT having it. I was facing a wheelchair and I wasn’t cool with that either. If you diet, you have to STAY on that diet for the rest of your life, or you will raise your set point (your natural, or resting weight) each time you go off that diet. I can lose about 15 pounds, right now pretty much on request, but unless I keep on whatever diet it was, forever, I’ll gain it back again, PLUS a few more pounds, giving myself a new, higher, set point.
So, I started smoking again and within a few months I had lost about 30 pounds and my knees and ankles were happy,,, well happy enough that I was mobile, and that was enough for me at the time. I maintained that weight for over a decade now. But what I learned from the experience is that I’m an addict and although I THOUGHT I had quit smoking, I didn’t! I just quit smoking TOBACO. I started smoking other things like food and alcohol instead.
So here I am, face to face with my core condition of addiction. I had a splint put in my heart in March resulting from a terrorized midnight trip to the ER with what I thought was a chronic, excruciating, stomach problem. While there, I learned that it wasn’t a stomach problem at all, it was a blockage in an artery in the side of my heart. While there I also learned that I am diabetic, so now I’m struggling with smoking again because it’s bad for BOTH conditions.
There are two things here that I’m trying to figure out. One; when I quit smoking tobacco again, what will I start “smoking” next, and will that be as much of a problem as smoking was? Smoking is not the problem, It’s a symptom of a condition that will not go away when I quit smoking tobacco.
Two; does anyone actually recover from addiction, or do they just arrest the symptoms? Many years ago in a comedy bit that Cheech & Chong used to do Cheech says, “Before, I was all messed up on Drugs, now I’m all messed up on the Lord”. It was one of those “Bomb Jokes” where you laugh because it’s funny, then on the way home, you realize that maybe it wasn’t so funny after all. When people are in “recovery” Isn’t doing the “Program” or clinging to Jesus, or exercise, or playing piano, or whatever, what people “smoke” instead of their drug of choice? Isn’t one symptom of the disease supplanted with another, without actually addressing the underlying cause?