image343.jpgThe lifestyle of an eternal recoverer

By: Susan Shapiro

While most people struggle to relinquish bad habits for New Year’s, over the last 10 years, I’ve successfully given up vice after vice. I’ve become such a successful quitter of substances, I almost want to quit quitting things. But temptation still overwhelms my self-control.

And for those who might think my penchant for acquiring — then ditching — habit after habit is dangerously addictive itself, I must say: This constant churning cycle of self-improvement has been a miraculous force in my life this past decade.

My passion for renouncement began at 40 when, after a cancer scare, I decided to finally stop smoking. An addiction specialist helped me cease my 20-plus-years, two-pack-a-day habit by learning how to “suffer well.” He called my nine months of sweating, crying and nicotine patch dreams “the worst chemical withdrawal in history.”

Next to go were nightly joints. As a freelance journalist, I feared I couldn’t work straight. I gravitated to wine and rum to loosen up. Before becoming a serious alcoholic, I got sober. Then my endless oral fixation led me to shove 30 packs of Juicy Fruit in my mouth daily, ruining my teeth. I’d chew quickly, suck out the flavor and reach for a new stick, a sequence my husband said perfectly captured my personality.

That personality was so addictive, I could get hooked on carrot sticks. Like many addicts, I did the substance shuffle. Instead of conquering my impulse disorder, I’d brilliantly switch obsessions. So I banned Blow Pops (cavities) and bread products (calories). The only reliance left to quit was my addiction specialist, I joked. Then he quit me by moving away.

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