Updated: Apr 11
Habits are hard to break.
I just came out of my voice pathology session and I apparently really need to seek medical attention for (hold on to your seats) my loud voice. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am actually sick for having a loud voice. My trademark projection that I’ve had since grade 4 when I was talking every single god damn morning over the PA for the morning prayer and Panatang Makabayan; my Sunday Junior Choir stardom limelight; my coaching and intrams hosting; our high school choral recitations! All made me sick! My speech pathologist talked as if I was an addict–as in i actually passed positive in a series of tests proving that I am abusive (with my voice) and that I need rehab for it! I need a willing mind and recognize that it is a problem and that I want to solve it because it’s going to be a lifestyle shift apparently. Hello?! Funny to diba? All those jokes you cracked on me, that I have to turn down the volume or use my indoor voice… they’re all true! I HAVE to. Its like letting go of someone who’s grown on you too much… like a leach, he doesn’t even have to say a word or do anything but he still bothers you. its exhausting already but its a habit nonetheless, a familiar you just can’t get over with even if you don’t want it anymore. that’s how smoking feels like now… that’s how the strain on my voice and the vibration i feel down my throat when i have this surge of energy coming out of my larynx feels like.
the kinder method is to gradually decrease the abuse, or the exposure to the habit. otherwise, there’s this lingering fear of withdrawal and the pain that a sudden loss entails. “i can’t even remember the last time i puffed…” babaw, but sad, right? so i smoke a stick a day, or when its really stressful or cold. “we know we’ve always been fun together, so we can be the friends we were and be honest to each other, that way we can recognize that we’ve moved on.” so you act as if everything’s ok, share stories like you used to, habitually show concern and affection when needed because there’s just this strong connection that’s unique between you and that leach. “OMG! Seriously?!” (with outdoor voice projection) every now and then, no matter how it strains down my neck, i just can’t get rid of that energy when I react. Because that’s how I am, i pay attention and I live every moment and breath it out up to my last breathe.
But you know what method really works best? Cold turkey.
I remember… (The Starting Over book by Gray says that recalling past experiences or pain helps in overcoming your current sorrow or resentment)
— when I broke up with my first boyfriend for 6 days, we remained friends and talked on the phone every night like we always did. he even sent a stuffed toy and a box of chocolates for my birthday. i thought it was sweet because we were best friends in the first place, but now, whenever i look back, i wonder what could have been if i wasn’t such a bitch.. and there’s this awkward childish moment every time we bump into each other. its ok now but imagine, it’s been 11 years since and i still have that, “ano ba yan ang mushy mo parin! uy you haven’t changed…” lingering hirits in my head as if things should be the same when the fact is, it isn’t. i should have outgrown that a long time ago.
— when I dated this basketball player, he just went poof one summer morning after he took me home the night before. i wondered one day after the other why he suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth (well, mine at least) and pretended nothing happened or i didn’t exist. that was horribly ego blowing but well, it does feel like nothing happened now when i look back to it. see, it worked.
— when a good friend of mine kissed me, it changed me, rocked my world and made me angsty throughout high school. but once a year or two, we’d catch up and check on each other. we’re good friends now but looking back, even if we’ve reconciled our feelings and made ammends, i continue to be baffled by the dynamics of our relationship because it continues to be a guessing game of sorts. it feels like, my helplessness that time manifests every time i’m with her. and i remain to be a kid so she can’t imagine me as a mature person.
— when my first girlfriend left me for another lesbian, she went poof. i went through hell and hated so much but after several years, i received an email from her telling me how far off she’s gone (it was a generic message to all her friends she left back here) and it felt like i was talking to a new person. and i was sincerely happy for her. and the pain and the wreck i had to go through when she left… is all a blur. as in i absolutely have no memory of how i coped, but i did. cold turkey works.
— i’ve always waited out long evenings and kept myself busy. i had this theory that i was insomniac partially because it seemed cool back in high school. after a while, i was seriously getting tired everyday and i said, “i’d sleep early from now on.” obviously, that hasn’t happened because i always put it off one night after the other. it never ends you know. its a vicious cycle.
— i had this bad habit of calling my crushes landlines before the caller id was invented, and i’d put the phone down after i satisfyingly hear his voice on the other end 🙂 when the caller id came to life, i went cold turkey. stalker mode off forever!
— when my college boyfriend and i broke up, we were very good at being civil in our org and things were pretty normal as we did things separately and didn’t mind doing things together when we had to. but when i realized that that wasn’t all that was going on in his end, there was a psycho moment and i prolonged the what ifs, rekindled our great love, only to realize that i’ve put him in so much agony throughout the time that we were “civil” and now, it feels like the time we were pushing each other away masked all the good stuff we’ve shared when we were together. sabi nga ni don, walang civil civil sa teatro. artists tyo e.
— when Mio’s dad and i broke up, we were ok. until we found out i was pregnant and his mom got in the way. total cut off because who wanted to raise a child with such a baby, right? good ridance, i say. and there’s nothing i regret about it. i’m sure as hell that i’m better off without him.
So you know why abruptly letting go of bad habits work? because maybe after your mind decides to shut it down, your body follows; maybe because instead of picking on the wound of a lost love, you reacquaint yourself with yourself and begin to nurture your connection to the universe instead of to just one person.. then the wound just doesn’t sting anymore and hopefully when the scar is completely healed inside, the surface doesn’t look so bad like a keloid on your battled knee; maybe because silence makes laughter and conversations sweeter; maybe because ignorance is bliss and what you don’t know won’t hurt you — like how a cigarette puff should feel like; or the harmony he can get with someone with or without that kind of love you’ve had; like how a runt and a sigh is listened to more than a scream or a howl.
Cold turkey. That’s the solution. Quit smoking NOW. practice indoor voice NOW. sleep early NOW. stop talking or even caring for him NOW. break old habits… NOW.