It was only a year ago that I watched The Fighter, a film that dramatized the true story of Micky Ward’s improbable ride to the light middleweight title as he was stewarded by his half-brother, trainer and one-time rising boxing star Dicky Eklund — the latter’s career and health all but KO’d by his addictions.
The parallel lives resonated with me, as I realized that, like Yin/Yang, we all contain versions of both characters inside each of us. My own shot at the title having not arrived yet, I thought perhaps my Yang portion had derailed me.
This notion led me to want to change my title to “Mark Flanigan, Life Coach.” Therefore, while we await my certification, I offer the following insights to help change your habits and become, like me, “More Micky than Dicky” in 2012.
Cigarettes: My friend created the perfect painting. It’s a still life of a table on which sits a large ceramic mauve-colored ashtray filled to the brim with extinguished smokes next to an uneaten apple. Its title? “Last Cigarette.”
I understand the difficulty. And while the health consequences of smoking are obviously overstated — it’s only led to the demise of my mother, aunt, uncle, grandparent and a former running partner, despite my having known thousands of smokers — there nonetheless remains many who long to quit.
My advice to them is simple: Move to New York, where one can no longer afford them.
Alcohol: There has truly been nothing more debilitating for me, in a physical and mental sense, than alcohol. Coming from a clan in which every bud of the family tree has been doused by the intoxicating poison, I can’t believe how many hours I have lost to it.
It is said that all alcoholics attempt to govern their drinking but fail, and I tend to agree. Way I see it, and despite how difficult it may be to do, the only fail-safe way that I have discovered to quit drinking is to switch to beer.
Cocaine: Oh, sweet cocoa, what fun! Until we had to all but part ways, despite being such good dancing partners. Still, it has to end, does it not? But how?
Well, the best way to quit cocaine is to do mass amounts of it, thereby becoming so miserable the mere thought of it gives you a headache. Take pictures of your blood-besotted pillow when you wake up in the afternoon of the next day and save one as your screensaver. Answer your phone when it rings and make yourself talk to the Craigslist ad you answered while geeking out. Invite him, her or them over and see how desperate the drug has made you. Put your nose, ruined as it is, right into it. And try to smell. Worked for me.
Heroin: I never understood this drug’s allure. Why would one ever want to forget every bit of pain they felt in their life? No one should feel that wonderful.
Sad fact is I’ve only known a few people to ever kick heroin. One of them told me he was moving to Seattle and I literally heard a hammer pounding nails into a coffin. Turns out, in some progressive cities, they know how to treat such things. Go there.
Crystal Meth: Wanna quit crystal meth? Well, apparently the best way to do so is to move to Cincinnati, as I’ve been searching for it for over a decade now and I look nothing at all like a cop. Is this the wrong time to say that I participate in most of the social media of the day? Probably.
PCP: The last drug to check off my list. Facebook me.
Caffeine: Strangely, I cannot do caffeine. It makes my heart palpitate while I run to the closest bar. It should be outlawed altogether, as that seems to be the only way to ensure that the general populace does not partake of dangerous substances.
Pain Pills: I may not be the best person to speak about quitting pain pills as I have little experience with them, outside of the four surgeries and six broken bones that I have curated through the years. I had a shoebox full until my softball team’s shortstop ate them. Better ask him.
Marijuana: I don’t see the point of quitting marijuana, frankly. Everyone knows it isn’t a drug. Just enjoy what God made for you and your friends perfected. Besides, you gotta do something.
Overeating: You’ve given up cigarettes, you’re no longer incessantly pulling on a bottle or a straw and now you need something to take their place in your mouth. Gee, wish I was single.
In sum: I realize there are certain habits I have altogether neglected, such as exercise and spiritual obsession. That said, the most important bit of advice anyone ever told me regarding breaking habits is to look for mutually exclusive activities. For instance, if you want to quit smoking, run a marathon. Or, as I say, if you want to quit jerking off, quit doing ecstasy.
But the only true nugget of wisdom you will hear from “Mark Flanigan, Life Coach” with regards to addiction can be summed up in just these three simple words: Cheat on occasion.
CONTACT MARK FLANIGAN: firstname.lastname@example.org