A conversation, a text, a chance meeting… whatever the medium, you find yourself communicating with the person you were trying so hard to quit. And before you know it, you agree to meet again, even though deep in the pit of your stomach you can sense that it will not end well, regardless of how much love / tenderness / animal attraction you still have toward each other (or maybe because of it).

Why is it so difficult to walk away? Is it the inherent distaste for drama, for things ending badly, or just an attempt at denial of the fact that things–even good things–do come to an end? The latter explanation is easy enough to accept: at least we try to hold on to good things. But what about holding on to things that are instead detrimental? The littlest pleasure we do get out of them certainly do not outweigh the familiar sinking feeling, the knowledge that yet again you’ve done yourself a great disservice, one that you would be ashamed to have to admit to your friends after you said you wouldn’t, not again, not this time.

It’s like hearing about eating disorders, and someone admits to eating out of the garbage can. Inwardly, we may shriek in horror–but here we are, with our own version of that, be it gambling, drinking, smoking, eating, shopping, or answering a text from a person who has hurt us before (perhaps repeatedly) and is sure to cause hurt again. And as you set out on the path to your own destruction, some part of you secretly hopes for deliverance: what if the mall is closed? you’re out of booze or smokes? or, by some mysterious chance, the plans to meet with your demon fall through? And you can live to commit the crime against yourself another day.

The most sensible thing to do is, of course, to walk away from that situation. And that is exactly what you may end up doing, but only after you have learned the lesson. Until then, you will keep falling, you will keep failing, you will keep choosing the wrong course of action. But there is hope: at some point, you will come to view the situation as an opportunity to observe your own patterns, reactions, and weaknesses in action; you will learn to recognize the justifications you give yourself to advocate one more fix, maybe you can win this hand, this one last time. At some point, you will see the absurdity of your scheme, and the amount of wasted resources, internal and otherwise, and you will finally comprehend that there is a better way. You will recognize that what you have is enough, that you deserve better, and that the better choice is your only choice.

Some day, you will learn to choose wisely. Until then, your mistakes are your teachers.