“I’ve been clean for four days,” my friend blurts out as we’re walking our dogs in the park. “Wait! What?” is my shocked response. “I’m your best friend and you never confided in me that you had an addiction problem. What is it, drugs, alcohol?” “No,” she says, “the news, I’ve given up the news.”
Slightly bewildered, I look at her again. Am I wrong, or does she really appear calmer, more serene, more centered? Is she emitting a glow, or is that simply the sun in my eyes? As I reach to scratch a hive on my arm, I notice that her skin is, in fact, more radiant and the distracting blemish on her cheek near the left nostril has all but disappeared. Not knowing what else to say, I congratulate her.
Later that day I consider our conversation. Perhaps she’s really on to something. If she can dramatically improve her appearance in just four days, maybe I should also get with the program. And it’s way cheaper and less painful than a skin peel. I acknowledge the fact that I, too, am a news junkie, and it may well be ruining my life. So despite my somewhat limited capacity for self-control, I make the commitment.
It’s early morning. I lie in bed contemplating a strategy for my personal recovery. Last evening I asked my husband to join me on this journey. He flatly refused. I know this will make my rehab more difficult. Like trying to quit cigarettes when you’re living with a smoker. Nevertheless, I will persist.
So…. do I quit cold turkey, or do I gradually wean myself from the likes of Wolf Blitzer and Sean Hannity? Should the process include newspapers, web headlines, the satellite radio in my car? Do I give up podcasts? Political ads by candidates who approve this message? The scope of this endeavor is more vast than I realized. But I decide to accept the challenge. Cold turkey it is.
I leave the bed and stumble my way to the kitchen where my left hand (I’m left-handed, you see) reflexively reaches for the remote control. I catch myself just in time, although I do notice a slight tremor in my fingers as I prepared the coffee. This will not be easy. There’s a TV in almost every room of our home. Except the bathroom. Later that day, I turn on my computer wearing a pair of dark glasses in order to blur the news headlines that appear unsolicited on my home page. I switch my car radio from CNN to Julius La Rosa’s greatest hits. Limited, but soothing. That night in bed, I grab my iPad, insert my ear buds and find a Netflix war movie with enough exploding weapons to drown out the sound of the final hour of news my husband is watching before falling asleep. Day 1 is finally over and I have prevailed!
I awaken with new resolve. Believing I’ve made it through the most difficult 24 hours, I am empowered. I look in the mirror to determine if yesterday’s cleanse has diminished the worry lines in my forehead. I think I see a slight improvement. I am able to ignore the remote control in the kitchen as I make the coffee. I notice that today only one finger is trembling. Progress! I shall carry on today as yesterday, but believe I have the fortitude to spend less time in the bathroom. Also, I will switch the car radio station. “Three Coins in the Fountain” has run its course. Tonight in bed I tune into reruns of “Mrs. Maisel.” Not quite as loud, but way more amusing.
Definite improvement in my complexion, and I lost a pound. I hadn’t realized that a diet of politics could be fattening. Have a doctor’s appointment today and they have a TV in the waiting room. This could be a challenge. Hopefully, it will be tuned to QVC. To avoid watching the news, I’ve been engaging in other absorbing activities, like trying to teach Spanish to my dog. I think he’s doing well. Now he doesn’t respond to “Come” in two languages. I’ve taken up ironing. Did you know that pot holders look so much better when they’re pressed? Well, neither did I. But now I do.
I confess there was a lull in my day when I almost succumbed to the song of the Sirens luring me to the TV. But by sheer force of will I was able to resist. Instead, to satisfy the urge to indulge in small screen viewing, I rode to my local fitness store and test-drove a Peloton.
As I rise from my bed, I’m aware of a strange, but not unpleasant, sensation. It is unusual, but yet familiar, like something I remember from at least four years ago. It takes me a moment, but I am able to identify it. Calm. I am calm. My heart’s not racing, my pulse is normal, and my hives have receded. My aggression has abated. I’m able to recall the name of a certain politician and not precede it with a four-letter word.
I make the coffee without a single tremor as I stare down the remote which no longer has control over me. If I make it through today, that will be 96 hours news-free!
Detox accomplished! I call my friend to share the good news. “Listen,” she says, “I have to confess. I fell off the wagon. I watched the debate.” “You did?” was my shocked response. And with a great sigh of relief, I ask “So when’s the next one?”
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.