Nikki is experiencing some December triggers smf Joel has pulled-up three trigger threads including Should I avoid triggers or confront them?
for our newer members.
There's likely multiple factors at work here and you hit on most of them in your post. At six months or even a year complacency
can set in. Once vivid memories of daily life as an endlessly feeding addict are becoming distant and vague. The healing you've experienced is tremendous but the junkie mind can use it as fuel for such rationalizations as "I can do it again" (which may or may not be true) or "all the hype about health risks was overblown" when mortality risk reversal is still many years from square one and an even keel.
You may also be confronted with holiday triggers for which Joel today pulled-up this thread - Be Prepared for Holiday Triggers
. Many of our most vivid and powerful memories, both good and bad, are likely from December and with most, nicotine use was likely there too. Trees, lights, gifts, traffic, parties, dinners, special or tragic moments, finances, great gifts, a new year coming, weight gain, weight loss, it's packed with times, places, locations, people, emotions and events that lasted longer than the 20-30 minutes between nicotine feedings, and a stolen dopamine aaaah sensation (keeping the onset of early withdrawal at bay until that next feeding) became part of a very vivid and very powerful experience that may have played out for a number of holiday seasons.
The subconscious mind recorded those annual seasonal happenings and they may be playing back now. The good part is that your subconscious does not plan, plot or conspire and most of the links will be broken with a single encounter during which the subconscious mind does not receive the expected result ... one puff, followed by full and complete relapse back to your old level of intake or higher. But other forces are at work too!
Whether you realize it or not the tobacco industry turns-up the marketing heat every holiday season. They know it can be highly stressful and is a great month to foster relapse. You're likely getting hammered with quick but very real visuals at many turns (grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, convenience stores, magazines, and newspaper grocery store inserts). Most will tell you that you're missing-out on "pleasure" (that will be followed by anxiety and hurt if you don't quickly go for pleasure again and again and again and again), that you need to "stir your senses" (permanently, until you either burn them out or death at last allows them to relax), that Marlboro is celebrating "50 years of flavor" (when it knows that there isn't a single tastebud inside any human lung, and that 90% of adult smokers do not smoke for flavor but because they must, because it hurts when they don't).
Aside from having to deal with tobacco industry marketing, the pharmaceutical industry's marketing is ever so slowly moving more and more from a message of cessation to maintenance and a safer way to remain enslaved. This holiday season you'll be flooded with the message that "at last the gum really tastes like gum" and, regardless of when you quit, "all that stands between you and that cigarette is" NRT. It's getting rather crazy out there. The problem is that smoking or actually free-basing nicotine is the quickest and most powerful hit of all and gives the addict a high degree of control, as within just 8 to 10 seconds they know if they need to take another puff or not to get to that magic fully tanked-up moment.
Smoking's tremendous control of delivery is in sharp contrast to chewing a piece of nicotine gum too long (or trying to not inhale cigar smoke) and waiting for minutes as the nicotine every so slowly penetrates the lining of the mouth, enters the bloodstream and arrives at the brain where we sense that we either chewed (or held pipe or cigar smoke) for far too long (the feelings of nicotine overdose that range from nausea, increased salivation, weakness, heartburn, vomiting, hiccups, stomach pain, diarrhea, severe headache, cold sweats, severe dizziness, hearing and vision disturbances, confusion, weakness, breathing difficulty, heartbeat irregularities, seizures, and loss of consciousness)or that we didn't get enough nicotine and need to wait even longer (something not easily done for a mind conditioned to expect replenishment feedback within seconds).
In Caring for Your Quit
you're doing exactly what needs to be done, turning to your cessation roots before turning to the addictive insanity of allowing 1 external chemical to permanently control the flow of more than 200 of your body's neurochemicals. The beauty of getting off nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life endless roller-coaster rides of endless highs and lows, and feeling what it's again like to be neurochemically level and calm for hours on end is amazing. As you said Nikki, the time between thoughts of wanting has generally grown longer and longer, while the challenges generally get shorter in duration and far less intense than those hurricane force winds of early recovery -- just a nice stiff breeze now and then that's quickly overcome unless we intentionally allow it to sweep us into defeat.
Be proud of you for caring enough about your freedom, healing, health and life expectancy to return to your cessation roots and recharge your batteries. I encourage you to feel Kelly's pain
before leaving and to ponder what it must have been like for Kim. I'm confident that you'll find your next 2nd nicotine-free December a cake-walk if you'll continue to follow one guiding principle (the law of addiction condensed into four simple words) ... no nicotine today ... Never Take Another Puff (Dip, Patch, **** or Chew)!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John (Gold x5)