Yes, it’s me. I’m breaking format a bit, which I will do from time to time. What are vices and crutches?
Vices and crutches are really just hiding places. In stressful times, we default to animalistic instincts.
What does a cat do when he’s stressed out or just wants to relax or take retreat? He doesn’t always tear up the furniture, or vomit, or spray everywhere. Oftentimes, they simply go to their hiding place. If you’ve had a cat, they all have their ‘hiding place.’ George Bruno goes into this, and I have my own experiences.
Cats also go into hiding places when they’re sick or even dying. Animals, in general, do this to separate themselves from the pack.
I had a cat several years ago, her name was Little Bit. She was one of those cats who liked to be held, but still, she had her hiding place which was under my red recliner.
When my daughter was an infant, I spent nights on the recliner when it was my turn to feed her when she cried in the night. Even when it wasn’t my turn, I still slept on the recliner because my bed at the time was hurting my back which negatively impacted the little sleep I was able to get.
Every night, Little Bit would jump up with me on the recliner and sleep between my knees.
One night she didn’t jump up on the recliner at all. Strange. Soon, she had gotten very very ill, could barely move, wasn’t eating. She would end up spending most of the time in a new hiding spot–beneath a shelf I had erected not too long before that. That shelf became her last spot of refuge. Respite for a cat who it turned out was dying. We made the choice to put her to sleep when the vet examined her and discovered her organs were failing. Sticking her with IVs would only prolong her life and misery by a few days.
How do people deal?
People may not hide under a shelf, but there’s many other coping strategies. Many other ways to hide, get away, escape reality.
Some people do illicit drugs, or drink, or gamble, or have lots of crazy promiscuous sex. We’ve all known people like this.
When stress has occurred in my life, I never did illicit drugs, rarely ever drank beyond a few beers or mixed drinks, never gambled or had crazy sex.
I had two hiding places, two real vices: Food and sleep.
Sleep is a legitimate escape from reality for me. Sleep is an effective one as I rarely have trouble falling asleep and almost never have bouts of insomnia. When I do have insomnia, it’s because there’s something pressing on my mind. A personal matter I need to take care of, or a project at work that needs prompt attention to keep from completely going off the rails.
How do I deal with those episodes of insomnia?
When you’re thinking about something, ask yourself what is it that’s bothering you?
When you figure out what’s bothering you, ask yourself, is this something I need to take care of right now, or something I can take care of in the morning?
Usually, the answer is the latter. If it needs to be taken care of right then and there, do it.
If it can wait until after waking up, this is what I do: I write a note and place it in front of my computer, which is usually where I go first thing in the morning. I write what it is needing to be taken care of, then beneath it, I write, “RESOLVE THIS ASAP!!!” I then lay the note on the table, put the pen down beside it, then go back to bad. Without fail, I’m back to sleep again within 3-4 minutes. This is a way of freeing your mind while taking some sort of action. A good compromise.
Long and short of it: sleep is a retreat. I look forward to it many nights when I’m not in a good place
My other vice and crutch: food
Food is definitely the more damaging of my two hiding places.
Food is how I got to such a high weight, giving me declining health, then forcing me to make actionable, long-lasting changes.
After a long day, I would often go home and eat 2-3 helpings of dinner. Then throw in some french fries, or some soda, or…you name the comfort food.
After the savory, I would dig sweets. Sweets were really my vice, although I wouldn’t turn down any kind of lousy, processed carbs. While I was in college, I ate an entire large stuffed crust pizza in an entire meal. And I did this more than once.
On those nights, sweets really made me feel better, at least mentally and at least within the moment. I’ve eaten entire half-gallons of ice cream (just about any flavor except butter pecan) and entire packages of Oreos, Chips Ahoy, or Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Like I said, I felt better within the moment. But those crappy feelings always came back. Physical feelings, like my stomach was going to explode, or the sudden energy crash and resulting lethargy. Mental and emotional feelings, wondering what the hell I had done, why did I have to be such a pig?
I imagine all vices are this way–great in the short term, bad when you have time to reflect, and telling yourself never again, only to once again engage in poor behavior just one more time.
I mentioned earlier in the article the first place I often retreat to is my computer (after going to the bathroom and making a cup of coffee, of course). Maybe you were even wondering, would Steve consider this to be a third vice of some kind?
Is going to the computer so early in the morning is a vice and a crutch of some kind? That all depends.
Most mornings, I don’t consider it to be. I usually either do a little work on the website or check email before I head out to the gym for my workout. Some mornings, yes. Social media gets in the way along with a few cups of coffee, before I know it’s time to get out the door.
Not going to lie. This can be a vice for me as well.
Are hiding places always the same as vices and crutches?
I don’t really consider sleep a vice. I’ve never overslept or missed out on important things because of sleep. I am a fully functioning person. If anything, sleep is merely a hiding place that ultimately helps in giving me needed rest.
But anything can be a vice if abused.
Food was my biggest vice being a famous overeater. But it’s not anymore, and that’s because I acknowledged it as my vice, my crutch, and my hiding place.
What they say is true–the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. Once I did that, food went from a vice to simply a way to survive and to get nutrients.
What are your vices and hiding places? Drop a comment in the box below.