Cold Turkey

My one-cigarette-less-a-day cut down method was a great act of self delusion.

Hey, it was fine to smoke right down to the burning lip line and inhale as deeply as physically possible – because those cigarettes were ‘allocated’. They were okay. And it was fine to fantasise about smoking, it was completely understandable to count down the minutes to the next cigarette – because you had your quota to go with.

The outcome’s no surprise. 10 mysteriously grows to 11. Which, following an unexpected crisis, becomes 12. Then 13 –a one off. And then the floodgates are opened.

Before I really realised what was happening, I was back to where I started, and the only lesson I’d learnt was that giving up smoking was all about deprivation and preoccupation and frustrated desire.

And that I was hooked on something that would probably kill me.

It’s just the same with bulimia.

The self delusion was identical.

For years, I favoured the gradual weaning approach. I convinced myself that taking out one type of binge food at a time would, via a process of elimination, get me there in the end. I really nearly believed that knocking out the first thing in the morning throw up was a step in the right direction. That moving towards a one-day-on-one-day-off schedule would make the whole thing more bearable.

I forgot to factor in the addiction bit. Allen Carr certainly makes a lot of sense – the last one automatically triggers the next.

Cutting down binging worked for a while but it was still in my system.

In the end, however difficult cold turkey sounds, it’s far easier than the agony of temptation.

It’s far more humane than the cruelty of just getting the taste for something – and then having to turn around and say no.

It is, unexpectedly, far less soul destroying than being constantly reminded that you’re doing something that’s killing you – even and especially when it feels like you can’t live without it.

It’s a nasty realisation. But when you finally get there, when the frustration reaches a tipping point, cold turkey stops looking quite so bad.

It takes some guts – but a little decisive action is called for when sitting on the fence is too uncomfortable to bear.

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