If you find meaning in the voices in your head, you have two problems…

Urgh. Sometimes it pisses me off that I wrote that old post about how meth voices in your head start with pareidolia. It was intended to be an informational post, with a hint of dark humour, but basically just some anecdotes from my unfortunate years of living with meth addiction and hearing voices.

Back when I was a tweaker and heard voices, I assumed that most people who heard voices figured out that the voices were only in their heads, just like me. After all, I figured that out while high, paranoid, and delusional. (And I do mean delusional… Delusion is unavoidable when the voices seem so real. ) I assumed most, not all, because in those first few years when I was still a sociable tweaker, I did meet other tweakers who clearly heard voices and did not know it.

But reality came knocking in the form of a post where the comments never end, written by people smart enough to reach my blog after searching for meth voices, but who remain convinced the voices are real. To make matters worse, it’s not only meth-heads who find the post, but also others who hear voices and seek answers but do not want to accept the answer that the voices are internal to their minds.

I can not emphasize this enough… There is no meaning to be found in the voices in your head. No religious meaning, so you are not being contacted by gods or demons or aliens; no conspiratorial meaning, so no government or shady organization is trying to control you – and mind control is not a thing. Any meaning you perceive, anything at all, is delusion. There’s no shame in that, but if you hear voices and find meaning in them, you are delusional. Realizing it is key. It is better to be delusional and know it than the alternative, because that gives you the power to seek help. I am not qualified to advise you on what kind of help you need… I can only say that if the voices are induced by hard drugs as mine were, you need to stop using those drugs. Beyond that, the sensible thing to do is seek help from a mental health professional. I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t need help because the voices stopped after I stopped using meth, and also every timr I stopped even for a week or so. I remain interested in the subject because I did live with them for several years, which leaves me empathetic to others who experience similar symptoms.

If you hear voices and are convinced that you have tested them scientifically and concluded they are real, or believe others in your household also hear them, or that you recorded them and can hear the voices when you play back the recordings, all of those things are part of your delusions. You simply can not trust your own thoughts about the voices. You don’t know the difference between the voices in your head and the conversations you’ve had with others. Every conversation that confirms them to be real happened only in your head too. If you play back recordings of the voices, you are just listening to white noise and hearing voices that aren’t really there… again. That’s how audio pareidolia works.

I’m writing this because of recent comments I received by someone who is absolutely convinced that the voices are real, to whom I responded only to have him or her claim to have tested the voices scientifically. I see no point in continuing that conversation. This is not something to debate. There is never meaning to the voices and when you claim that there is, you don’t convince anybody, you just come across as a crazy person. Unfortunately the last sentence is probably not entirely true… you may well convince other people who also hear voices. You may find an online echo chamber of people who also hear voices and share similar conspiratorial or paranoid views to yours, since there are some common threads among those who think the voices are real. That is not a good thing.

Seriously, I am out of ways of expressing this… The voices in your head are never real and there are no exceptions. There is no evidence for you to present to anybody to convince them that the voices are real (because they’re only in your head), and you are not special, not some inexplicable exception for whom the voices are real and do have meaning. Seek help before it’s too late. You are not alone. There are many people worldwide who live with voices in their heads. Help is available if you look for it, but arguing with some guy on the internet to try convincing him your voices are real is not the right way to go.

Update: It’s worth mentioning that pareidolia is when your brain interprets random patterns as something distinct. (This can be audio or visual.) With audio pareidolia this often means hearing distinct sounds, such as voices, in white noise. It just so happens that’s exactly how meth-induced voices start, but over time your brain gets “trained” to do this all the time. Vague voice-like sounds, such as the “cross-talk” described by the commenter in the linked comments on my old post, make way to fully fledged voices saying distinct things. (Add to this being high and paranoid, or mentally ill and paranoid, and you get delusion as a natural side effect.) This is why I can presume that hearing voices when you play back recordings of them is just an example of pareidolia again.

Interestingly, there is an entire bunk field called electronic voice phenomena (EVP) where believers actually listen to white noise and interpret the “voices” they hear as spiritual voices. They even use devices based on the idea of Frank’s Box to trigger the pareodolia. Such devices deliberately use either radio scanning or other means such as randomizing sampled voices in software to provide the audio source. Thus their entire field is based around assuming that voices they deliberately create in noise are somehow voices of “spirits”, which I find hilarious. So besides the people who live with either drug-induced voices in the heads or voices caused by some sort of mental illness, there are also people who are otherwise healthy but go out of their way to listen to generated white noise to find meaning that isn’t really there. There’s an overlap, of course, but people tend to be secretive about their drug use so it would be difficult to determine how prevalent drug use and/or mental illness is in EVP practitioners.

A related term is apophenia, which is the perception of connections between unrelated things. This often manifests as conspiracies. Maybe now you can see why I am interested in all these things…



How come I don’t know any “recovering” smokers?

I don’t know how many smokers there are worldwide – probably millions. And probably millions more who have quit. But nobody tells them the “dry drunk” concept applies; that you are “once a smoker, always a smoker”. There are no claims that one cannot quit cigarettes without a sponsor and a higher power. Nobody insists that former smokers are still smokers who just aren’t smoking cigarettes, even though their problem was obviously addiction. Why do you think that is?

I deduce one thing from this situation: The idea that addiction cannot be cured but requires life-long treatment must be false. I’m no scientist or psychologist though, so I can only argue my case. My case is of course anecdotal. I as a former meth addict say that I have no interest in ever using my drug of choice again… and thus I call myself a former addict rather than a “recovering” one. I am, after all, not doing anything to “work on my addiction”. But I can’t prove that what I say is true. I can prove neither that it is what I am really thinking nor that I really have abstained completely since September 2013. You have to take my word for it, and my word may not be enough. (Aside: I don’t believe anyone who works 12 step programs is actually working on their addictions anyway, but that isn’t relevant to this post.) However, if you expand my argument to include other former addicts who quit without 12 step programs, it gets a little stronger. And if you include former smokers, it becomes quite the compelling argument indeed.

To clarify the point above… If we know of any addicts who have successfully cleaned up for years, any at all, it casts doubt on the notion that one remains an addict even with abstinence. And if we stop ignoring former smokers like most people do, because that addiction inconveniently contradicts this belief, then the belief is surely wrong. (Personally, I have never believed it. This post is simply an argument using former smokers to support my view. So in a nutshell, I’m saying we cherry pick which addicts to look at to come to the widely accepted view that addicts remain addicts even with abstinence. I’m ignoring weed completely because there are widely dissenting views on it and I have not yet formed my own opinion.)

We know why hard drugs are treated differently to cigarettes… they’re criminalized. Using hard drugs comes with moral judgement and habitual drug users are seen as less moral than others – one need only watch popular series or movies, or follow meme trends on social media to understand how people in general perceive addicts. I believe the driving force behind the negative beliefs about addicts are purely moralistic, mostly because of the criminalization of drugs.

“What about alcohol?”, you ask. (Actually my argumentative brain asks; always ready to fuck up a perfectly good argument.) I’m not sure… We tend to turn a blind eye to people who abuse alcohol to a certain point, like that guy who always gets out of hand at the office party… but if someone shows up at work smelling of alcohol or their drinking spirals out of control to an obvious day-drinking pattern, we do judge them harshly.  So perhaps it is not the legality of the substances we use, but it is about a moral stigma attached to some substances, as well as other factors including our overall behaviour and the way we use those substances.

So my argument stands. Addiction to cigarettes is treated differently to other addiction because of the lack of moral judgement of smokers. It would be interesting to see how addiction treatment differed, for hard drugs and alcohol, without the moralistic approach. I’d love to live in a world where addiction was treated purely by psychologists and medical professionals rather than by the 12-step religious cult-like approach.

Aside: Not my main point for today, but I do believe the legality of alcohol, while it remains a substance that is one of the most common to be addicted to, should raise questions for those who advocate the legalization of all drugs. It does for me anyway. In my opinion, you can’t argue that addiction is only a problem because drugs are criminalized. You can’t, because alcohol is legal but remains one of the worst drugs. I’m not necessarily arguing against the legalization of drugs, mind you, just saying in my opinion it is not enough…

Yet another aside: If you see any web article in the format of “[Insert celebrity/singer name] seen enjoying cigarette while [insert adverb here] in/at [Insert place here]”, there will be many comments by “disgusted” readers. Those comments, and the articles themselves, might give you the impression that there is a moral judgement of cigarette smokers, especially young attractive female smokers. (A moral judgement which contradicts my argument in this post.) But I believe the impression is a false one. Those comments are not what they seem. Just like the most homophobic male preachers are secretly attracted to men and in their self-hatred express the opposite of what they really mean, the commenters to the “girl caught smoking” articles are probably secretly attracted to smokers and thus their comments are ironic. So the comments and the article type alone is indication of a smoking fetish prevalence. (In fact, any article you see that describes an arbitrary habit of a celebrity is probably not what it seems but these things are way outside the scope of this blog post.)

Weird memories, and I wonder why we collect unnecessary stuff

Today is my second day at home, as advised by a doctor. It’s not so bad – it was just a bit of gastro and some other stuff that needed checking out. I just got home from a medical center where they did some blood tests.

My main issue is that I am always tired. As in, I get up early but also fade too early and I can sleep any time. It’s 10:55Am now and I could go sleep for a few hours quite easily. So it worries me – besides it being very annoying and leading me to drink too many cups of coffee at work, I need to know if something is wrong. But that’s not why I’m writing this.

The medical center where they did the tests came with an eerie sense of familiarity, from the crummy waiting room to the dreary office to the nursing sister with her old fashioned hair (in memes her name is Karen and she’s always calling the manager) who took smoke breaks in the parking lot behind the offices. It was only when I made the payment that I realized why…

They already had my name, ID number, and cellphone number. I had been there before, back at the end of 2010, after Megan and I relapsed and my brother insisted on taking us for blood tests. Quite unnecessary of course, as I always told the truth. A year or so after that, I liked dealing with the social worker at child welfare because she understood me – if she asked me to do a test I’d simply tell her there was no need because I’d test positive for meth. Funny how they always took my word then, but would probably not if I said I was clean. Meanwhile in reality, I always tell the truth about this. So if I say I’m clean and have been since September 2013, it’s because that is the truth. I was always open about my meth use, and likewise am open about sobriety. But I digress…

It was interesting to be back there for completely different reasons. I spoke with the nursing sister about the past, about Josh, about my mother’s recent death… It was nice to talk to someone, even a stranger. I don’t have that – with my mother gone there is no adult here to talk to at home. There isn’t even anyone to give me birthday or Christmas presents – she was the only one who still did. Soon it will be 2 months since she died, on the day after my brother’s 45th birthday. I wonder if I should wish him? He didn’t wish me last October (and I think he was angry with me at the time) but now we are talking and getting along again. So I wonder if I should… Ironically he hates birthdays; I’m the one to whom they have always been important.

The point of this post – and sorry it isn’t much to save for the last paragraph or two, is the old woman who had blood tests before me made such a fuss of getting the payment done, getting the document for her medical aid, and getting the piece of paper for her “records at home”, it made me think of my mother again. She had three large boxes of records going back twenty years. I don’t think she even knew how much she had because some of it was never even unpacked when she moved here. But I found them and went through them the other day. I had to throw everything out.

We keep all these things. They seem important. Pieces of paper that mean so much to us. But then we die and those things are left behind. None of it matters. None of it means anything.

I too am a hoarder. But I need to stop collecting rubbish that will one day bring nothing but tears to my son when he sifts through years of crap after I’m dead. It would be better if I got rid of everything that isn’t really important. I’ trying to make things better for him when he grows up, be there for him, but it’s difficult when I am so miserable and so very tired all the time.

A recovery cliché I loathe: My worst day clean is better than my best day in active addiction.

I may have written about this one before, but I’d like to draw attention to it again. The statement is a lie, a “feel good” fake aphorism that recovering addicts tell themselves, typically while sitting in a circle sharing platitudes in an NA meeting.

Thinking like that isn’t just bullshit; it’s dangerous bullshit. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that even if we replace ‘day’ with ‘year’ in that statement, it remains bullshit. I loathe recovery culture in general, and back when I attended NA meetings, I’d hear platitudes like that one all the time. Honestly it made me sick because I am not the type of person who can just go along with bullshit because it makes people feel good about themselves. I found myself speaking up in meetings to contradict their pretend aphorisms more and more, and it is one of the reasons I stopped attending those meetings nearly four years ago. (I don’t miss them.)

I have no problem with comparing my worst day clean to my worst day using. That would make sense. But my best day? For fuck’s sake, why??? My best day involved being in love, having no responsibilities, having left my depression behind and for the first time in years, feeling good, confident, and alive. My best day was also around day two of a three day nonstop sex marathon and it was probably the high point of my selfish life. My best day, in retrospect, was the day I had the most pleasure in my life, after leaving a deep depression, and was arguably one of the best times in my life. My worst day clean was recently when my mother died suddenly last month, and I would have to be retarded to say that it was better than my best day on meth.

Drugs have benefits. They can do a lot of good. It is stupid to pretend otherwise. If they didn’t do good things for us, we would never have continued using them after they led to less desirable consequences. That is precisely what makes them so dangerous. They seduce us into depending completely on them and steal our very lives away from us. Who among us don’t know somebody who can’t have a good time without cocaine, but who is not considered an addict?

To deny the good that drugs did for you in the past simply because it suits your current narrative is to blind yourself from seeing the bigger picture. What if one day you relapse? In that moment, that second after the first hit, you remember the good things that drugs did for you in the past. It all comes back in the rush of the high of that first hit. It shatters the lie that your worst day clean was better than your best day high. And with that lie exposed, you might very well decide to leave recovery behind forever. Support built on a foundation of lies is not support to rely on. But if you don’t lie to yourself, if you acknowledge how much good the drugs did in your past, that first hit doesn’t have to go on. Even if you relapse, you can take back control and realize that the good feeling is fleeting. You can pull yourself right out of that hole. But if your recovery is based on false hope, on comforting lies, one relapse is the end.

But there is another way to look at this lie recovering addicts tell themselves. Another famous phrase they like to dismiss in recovery is “It’s all about me”. Ironically, to believe that your worst day clean is better than your best day high, it really must be all about you. If you truly aren’t concerned only with yourself, then some of the worst things that can ruin your day, or month, or year, are about other people…

Loved ones die. Relationships end. Marriages fall apart. Partners cheat. Children can be taken away even when you are not at fault, for example children you love, of a partner who leaves you, but who are not biologically yours. Those are only a few examples, but there are many more. Your worst day when you’re clean isn’t necessarily about you, but could instead be about others you care about. Thus your worst day clean can crush you in ways that bad days on drugs never can. You worst day clean might compare to bad days high, but to suggest it might compare to good days is simply an example of a statement that relies on sounding clever as long as you don’t really think about it.

In summary, this is why I could never stick with NA and a 12 step program. Besides what I have written about before, in terms of a higher power, which I do not have, such programs are always built on self deception and comforting lies. Such programs are built on bullshit. Not all of us can feel happy when we sit around in a circle listening to clever sounding bullshit to make us feel good – sorry! (Actually I seriously wonder if such statements are believed because of the “Deepak Chopra effect”… That is, when people hear a statement they don’t understand, they assume incorrectly that the statement is wise, just like clever statements that they don’t understand. But the truth is some statements are not “beyond” understanding – they are simply nonsense. This is probably also why people think Jordan Petersen is an intellectual rather than an idiot spewing pseudo-intellectual nonsense.) My life has to be built on something real. If comforting lies work for you, then kudos to you, but don’t repeat the hideous lie that your worst day clean was better than your best day using. Rather be honest with yourself.

It’s easy to judge homeless people

It’s so easy to judge the homeless.

I just read a Facebook post about a homeless man who committed suicide. Read it here.  I’m quoting it below, and will follow it with my own anecdote about the time I was homeless.


12 January at 09:25

R.I.P Michael Wesley Collins, he took his own life Wednesday, this is what he wrote about homelessness at the end of November 2018.

Homelessness is no joke. Taking a journey through being homeless and penniless has given me a new perspective on what hardships homeless people endure. Once you’re in it, it’s very, very difficult to escape. You run into chicken-egg problems again and again and it leads to an inevitable downward spiral. For example, you can’t get a job because you’re homeless and you’re homeless because you can’t get a job. Imagine having no car, being filthy and trying to show up to a job interview. It’s impossible, and you come into a hopeless downward spiral. The homeless shelters are awful places where they pack people in like sardines in bunk beds, and everyone there is in a dark state of hopelessness.

The social services in the USA are a joke and they don’t provide enough support to even live, let alone give you an opportunity to dig yourself out of a hopeless hole. Welfare amounts to almost nothing, not even enough to buy food, let alone establish an apartment or residence, and it’s quite difficult to get as well, and the system is unforgiving for missed appointments, which can happen quite easily when you don’t have a home or money for transportation. Again, it’s part of the vicious cycle.

Often there is a waiting list to even get into a homeless shelter. In San Diego for example, the wait list is 1 month, so you must sleep on the street for a month before being considered to sleep in a crowded room. To receive government-assisted housing, the wait list is 2 years! If you become homeless in the richest country in the world, you would wait 2 years for relief!

People are immensely cruel to the homeless as well, many of whom suffer from a psychiatric condition that they cannot help. Often families reject people with psychiatric conditions with the misunderstanding that they could be dangerous in some way, but most often they are sensitive souls who also often connect with higher spiritual energies. In old days, these people would be seen as prophets, medicine men, and spiritual leaders, but today they are derided as mentally ill and very often wind up homeless. They are most often victims of human cruelty and miscomprehension, rather than a threat.

I am still homeless, though I’m continuing to fight my way out, but thankfully I still have some generous friends and haven’t yet sunk so low that I cannot escape, though I remain on the precipice. I will say that I will kill myself before I fall into that level of despair, and I fight daily to keep myself from this fate, but often I must choose between difficult options. I have also endured an immense amount to trauma during this experience, and the idea of taking time for healing is ridiculous considering that I must navigate getting basic needs met like food and shelter with the onset of winter coming.

Please keep me and all other homeless in your prayers, but action is needed even more than prayer. If you see homeless, or know of someone on the brink of homelessness, please have compassion for them and give to them generously. You have no idea of the circumstances that led to their condition, as this world can be a cruel and unforgiving place.

I have a master’s degree, high intelligence, and a variety of high-value skills, but I still wound up homeless and if you understood the story and reasons why, it would make perfect sense, and you would also understand that I had no control of the events that led to this place. It was a complex series of events that caused it, and it can truly happen to anyone.

Have compassion for those who have fallen into this horrible state of despair.


I shared it to Facebook myself with the text below, which I won’t quote because it’s a little strange to quote oneself… (I’ll end the not-quote with a horizontal rule.)

I lived in a homeless shelter for four days, in 2009.

It was only supposed to be temporary, while I still had my job, a place to stay until the end of the month so that I wouldn’t be exposed to meth all the time, and would then be able to rent a room the next month.

I made it four days clean there, but then a member of my family called them and told them I was on drugs. So I was kicked out, forced to go back to the single room with a dealer who was sleeping with my girlfriend, and subsequently lost my job. (Edit: This was a Facebook share. Obviously there’s a lot more to this, trauma to both her and me, but it isn’t necessary to add that here.) Then I went to rehab, only because my own plan to get off drugs had been sabotaged by someone who judged me for staying in a homeless shelter.

When you see someone who is homeless, you don’t know how they got there… Maybe it was through no fault of their own, or maybe it was totally their fault, as was the case with me. But it doesn’t matter. Once you’re there, you’re there, and it is difficult to recover. For many, it is impossible.

I got out because I was lucky. Thanks to the birth lottery, I happened to be born white and male, and had a job even when I was high on meth every day for several years. I got out because of my white privilege, and the fact that I still had my last month’s salary, even though I messed up everything in my life and had lost that job.

That last month’s salary was used to pay for my rehabilitation. I didn’t get sobriety right straight away, but wouldn’t have even had a chance without that first step. It may well have been the difference between me being here and writing this today versus me being dead back in 2009.

Think of all the other people who end up homeless, without the luck that I had, without that one month’s salary, or without the white privilege, or even with white privilege but without that money… All the people who have nothing but the judgement that I had (and more) and an even harsher life imposed on them because of the way they are judged.

I loathe writing about this because my usual approach to recovery is all about taking responsibility, but it’s easy to say that when you had privilege and luck on your side. Not everybody has that. Much of the time, poor people and homeless people suffer through no fault of their own. Even addicts often end up in dire straits because of what was imposed on them. Actually more of the consequences of addiction are about consequences imposed on addicts because of the criminalization of addiction, more than you can ever know. It takes just one narcissist with malice and the law on their side, to gaslight and bully the entire life away from a struggling addict. (But I digress and this has little to do with today’s post.)

Don’t be so quick to judge the homeless. I didn’t always feel this way. Years ago, I once wrote a post entitled “Never give money to beggars”. But I was an arsehole and was dead wrong. Give to them. Give to them generously, not just food but give money if and when you can afford to, and it is none of your business to question what they spend that money on.

This not smoking thing really sucks. Or maybe doesn’t suck, as the case may be.

Facebook notified me that readers of my page for this blog are missing me. (I only shared it with the first ten of my friends and then lost interest, but anyway.) So here is something short to remind you I’m still alive and kicking.

It’s been more than two weeks now, and I am still not smoking. But it hasn’t really gotten easier. The craving comes and goes… sometimes I forget about it completely and then it returns with such vengeance that I find it incredibly difficult to resist going to the shop on the corner and buying a single cigarette. So far I have resisted though. So far…

A few months ago, a Facebook friend stated I cannot call myself a former addict if I still smoke cigarettes. Maybe she was right. I don’t think it’s completely fair, because I generally refer to myself as a former meth addict, not a former addict.

Regardless, I am not going to declare myself a victor of this addiction just yet. I can say with certainty, at the same point just over five years ago when I reached two weeks clean time from meth, I already knew I had beaten meth. There was no doubt in my mind. It’s not the same with cigarettes. I don’t feel like I’ve beaten it at all. Instead I’m still fighting.

But fight I will, and hopefully soon report back that I am confident that I have this cigarette addiction beaten. Until then, I wish all of you compliments of the season.

Beating addiction–Part 1–Definitions and ground rules

It’s been a week since I gave up cigarettes. I’m not going to claim that I have it beat yet – I’m not even experiencing all the benefits of this healthier lifestyle yet, but tentatively it is looking like success. Tentatively it looks like my formula for beating addiction works. It’s looking like something I should write down in a form that others can try to reproduce. But not yet… Maybe I should wait until I’m at least a couple of months free of the cigarette addiction. In the meantime, this introductory post will lay out some ground rules, to give context to my sobriety objective and thinking around the subject. (“Objective”, singular, not plural, is not a typo.)

The objective of beating addiction

  1. Abstinence. Successful and lifelong.

There is only one objective. I’m not going to write a bunch of trite inspirational nonsensical platitudes about how you must make fundamental life changes, and blah blah blabberty bullshit.

Abstinence is about no longer using the drug. If you stop the drug, you stop getting the drug, using the drug, protecting the habit, lying about getting and using the drug, and so on. None of those things need to be the goal. Stop using the drug and those things will happen automatically. Keep things simple.

You don’t need faith

Nobody needs a higher power. Faith is belief despite no supporting evidence. A faith based approach to sobriety takes the focus away from you, the person with the problem, and externalizes your problem. It takes away your personal accountability, and takes away all the credit when you get sobriety right. That’s why, when I tell somebody I’m five years clean from meth, and they reply, “Praise God”, I always reply with “Fuck your God. Shouldn’t I be thanking him for my meth addiction?”

Forget about ‘Just for today”

Even on my first day clean, I never once said “Just for today”. This is for life.

There’s no such thing as a “dry drunk”

If you’re not drinking alcohol, you can’t possibly be drunk. Likewise if you’re not smoking meth or snorting coke, you’re not a junkie.

People who tell me I should “work on my recovery” invariably don’t work on theirs. Asking your imaginary father in the sky, or the fairies, or the fluffy unicorns in cloud cuckoo land, to help you, does not count as working on anything. It counts as false comfort and delusion. If you have faith in something, that’s great, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it helps you stay clean. And whatever you do, don’t impose that on anyone else.

This goes back to my only objective… If you abstain, you’re going to “work” on recovery anyway, because all the things you need to do to stay abstinent will come to you naturally.

Relapse is NOT ok

Back when I went to meetings and spoke to other addicts, I became aware of this mindset where relapse is OK. It is not. Relapse must be avoided at all costs. It isn’t a natural part of “working” on recovery. It’s a mistake. It‘s not the end of the world, and it isn’t a reason to give up – if you do relapse. But don’t go into this with the idea in the back of your head that everybody does relapse, which makes it acceptable somehow.

Therapy is good

Don’t knock talk therapy. It helps immensely to be able to talk to someone about your problems. You can’t think of everything by yourself, and a good therapist will give you insight into your life from a perspective that you may never see.

That’s all I have time for today. Further posts in this series will have a similar title and be tagged with beating addiction.

It’s starting to look like I really have quit cigarettes successfully

Weird… I was about to write that I resisted mentioning this because my track record for quitting cigarettes is not great, but silly me forgot I mentioned it already.

Anyway, an update… Tonight at around 10PM will be exactly five days since I quit smoking. At this point, with each passing day it becomes increasingly unlikely that I will fail. The cravings peaked at around three days, and then started dropping off. In fact, at this point I only crave when I think about it. Which means I’m forcing myself to crave a little while writing this, but that’s OK.

Oddly, I found quitting cigarettes far more difficult than quitting meth, at least in the first couple of days, but then this has been a particularly difficult time. My mother died, and even though she died of complications trying to treat lung disease (most likely caused by smoking), my cigarette addiction did still give me comfort. It’s just Josh and I at home, and anything to help with the grief is useful, so in that sense, it made resisting the cigarette cravings difficult. Contrast this to when I quit meth five years ago – I’d done so when Megan moved back with a three month old baby daughter, Aishah. I quit exactly the same way then, on a Thursday night; but using meth over that weekend would have been completely impractical. I shared the room with Megan and the baby, and my mother slept in the next room. Thus I not only had motivation, but had company and this made resisting the cravings easy.

Unlike those days, these when I quit smoking have involved more stress and more time alone. Starting tomorrow, Josh will spend three days with my brother, making it slightly more difficult, I imagine, since I’ll be alone. The other relevant detail, I think, when it comes to quitting smoking, is that there isn’t that sense of it being an immediate achievement. Quitting a hard drug like meth is notable; after quitting one is immediately noticeably different due to not being high all the time. Cigarettes cause many different kinds of cancers, but quitting smoking is a long term reduction of risk. The immediate benefit is not obvious, and so it doesn’t feel like as significant an achievement.

The other difficulty with quitting smoking is that immediately after quitting, I have lots more time. I’m used to going for several smoke breaks at work, and at home. Suddenly those breaks aren’t happening any more and that takes adjustment. It’s worse after each meal, and at certain times of the day at home when I had regular cigarette breaks for years… like last thing before going to bed and first thing waking up.

Anyway, it is starting to look like I might just have finally quit the cigarettes for good. It still leaves me sad… I can hear my mother saying, “I’ll never smoke again”, but it was too late. I was much older than her when I had my one and only child. In order to be there for him, I need to try and get healthy and try to live to around 80. That might be possible, but is probably not, and especially not if I continue smoking.

To end with two positive notes… I hope this can encourage others. I’ve smoked for years and didn’t really think I could quit. Now it looks like maybe I can, after all. And if I can, so can you. Also, there is another point to this: I have always maintained that I don’t know exactly how I managed to quit meth successfully. But come to think of it, I do know and I am using the same technique to quit cigarettes. If this works, and I think it will, I do have a formula after all – one that I can use to advise others and that I have reproduced myself.

I’m in Limbo

Last night in my nightmares, I couldn’t breathe properly. I shifted awkwardly between asleep and awake, laying thinking of one memory in particular that haunts me – my mother on that Tuesday night before I dropped her at the hospital on Wednesday morning; my mother sitting at the dining room table after walking from her bedroom to the lounge, just a few meters being enough to leave her out of breath, sitting there panting with her head in her hands. I laid there thinking that, and then shifting back to sleep where I dreamed that I was the one struggling to breathe. Then I woke confused, uncertain if this was a dream or if I really did struggle.

I’ve started wondering if this was really a sensible time to quit cigarettes. My last smoke was quite late on Thursday night, but the craving has been quite intense since then. But it’s not just craving – I’m angry. This anger flares up in response to tiny things that should be insignificant. I don’t remember ever craving meth like this, but I am craving a cigarette. The part of me that wants it begs and pleads, insisting that all I need is one; that I can bum from my neighbour, Mervin downstairs, who normally bums from me. But no! I shut those thoughts down each time, by playing back that mental image of my mother, sitting there with her head in her hands as she struggled to breathe. I hear her voice, as she called me on her last day, a week ago yesterday, to tell me that they would try to drain the fluid from her lung using a needle. I thought I’d see her later that day. They were supposed to help her, not suddenly kill her! That’s why I’m still in shock. And I think of how she died not two hours later, but also that she might have lived much longer if she’d quit smoking sooner. I need to quit and not give in to any cravings, so that I can live longer, for my son.

So I have motivation, but it’s hurting. The more I think about it, the more it hurts.The grief and sense of loss is otherwise not as bad as it was a week ago. It’s still bad, but it’s OK. But the not smoking thing is really fucking me up. Even my sense of the passing of time is different without nicotine. I don’t know how that can be, but some annoying tasks, such as pulling off from a traffic light… seem to take much longer now. The waiting for the lights to change from red to green… seems much longer than it needs to be. I used to take a lot of smoke breaks as well, sometimes before and after doing just about every little thing. Now I have all this extra time and no clue what to do with it.

I quit smoking, and some clarification on why I don’t debate theists (again)

Two unrelated subjects today, but both were on my mind as I tried, in vain, to fall asleep last night.

I’m done with smoking cigarettes

I’ve tried half-heartedly to quit before, but was always quick to give up. In fact, I’ve often wondered how it could be that I gave up meth easily more than five years ago, but cigarettes were the one addiction I held onto.

But I think I have an answer: Just like five years ago, when I had motivation, I have motivation now. It’s a week ago that my mother died of complications trying to treat lung disease, most likely cancer caused by smoking. So just like when I quit meth, I am quitting cigarettes “cold turkey”. No pills or cigarette alternatives, no 12 step program – not that they do that for smoking cessation, but I am comparing this to quitting meth… No “just for today” nonsense because this is for life.

I hope this gets easier because I am craving a cigarette right now. But that’s OK; I craved meth for a day or two as well (after quitting at the end of a week), and then it got easy the next week.

Why I’m not going to debate you; the theist who attempted to initiate a debate yesterday

I’m not going to write who it was or quote fully. Long term readers might be able to figure it out, but that doesn’t matter because it absolutely does not apply to that one person only.

First of all, I do not get “defensive when criticized”. It’s avoidance. When you try to push me into a debate, I politely back off. It’s not defensive and I am quite capable of being aggressive as my arguments are good. But I don’t want to. I see no value in debating you after already explaining my position multiple times, only to have you stampede into yet another attack on me while caricaturizing my position.

I am not arrogant about this. To condescend and accuse me of arrogance when I do not believe I have a personal relationship with the creator of the entire universe, is more than a little ironic. Look at yourself a little closer.

As an atheist, I do not say, “There is no god”, at least not as a start to an argument. That’s a possible conclusion. Unlike you, I would never start with a conclusion. I reject the claims that gods exist. I don’t accept them, and I don’t make a counter claim that a god doesn’t exist. To accuse me of claiming to have special knowledge is dishonest after I have explained this literally every time you or anyone else tries to push me into a debate.

Since I was also indoctrinated in my youth, I understand the theistic perspective. When the arguments used always caricaturize my position, and with the type of arguments used, it is clear exactly how many theists think:

  1. You believe you “know” god exists, but won’t admit that.
  2. That is, every argument starts with the implicit assumption that god exists. Everything else (that isn’t about some straw man of atheism) is then using motivated reasoning to continue believing what you already believe.
  3. You assume that atheism is some kind of polar opposite of theism, so you project this opposite claim that “there is no god”.

Since the theist not only starts with his conclusion, but also argues against himself in the form of a twisted projection of some kind of assumption of what atheism is, and ignores everything I say, there really isn’t much point to debating.

Even when I did debate in the past, it was never to win. Watch or read any debate and pay attention to those who observe and support the debaters, not only the debaters themselves. In almost every case, both parties believe they won, and both groups of supporters believe their candidate won. Belief bias is strong.

I go into a debate with an open mind, and am always willing to learn. But there’s nothing to learn in debating someone who begs the question, someone whose premise assumes his conclusion to be true. You’ve lost before the debate has even begun. That wasn’t always a reason for me not to debate, but years of wasting my time have made it so. I used to debate anyway, ask leading questions and try to get my opponent to reveal their assumptions, bring the intellectual dishonesty in their arguments to the surface so that others might see it. But that got boring when every theist debater made the same assumptions and used the same arguments, while none of them are self aware enough to realize the assumptions they make. Or honest enough to admit what having faith really means. (Faith is belief despite no evidence. If you are truly honest about this with yourself, you would realize that it is not something that you can rationally debate.)

Edit: Typical… This cigarette craving is driving me nuts so I forgot to include one of the points that whirlpooled ’round my head last night as my insomnia dragged me over into the new day… Lastly, I am not insecure in my beliefs, unlike some people. I’ve written about this many times and that need for my point of view to be understood is less urgent than it used to be. There are years worth of material going back on this blog and anyone who wants to know my personal view, anyone who actually knows me in real life, can read it here and understand it better than I can ever tell you in words.

So don’t try to force me to debate, please. Save your arguments from ignorance and your circular reasoning and your gaslighting of my life and my beliefs or lack of beliefs.