Many of our New Year's group, now around the two week mark, find themselves increasingly focusing upon the final, by far easiest and yet longest stage of recovery, gradually moving beyond the influence of years of nicotine feeding memories and all the rationalizations that went with them. Don't be too frightened or panicked upon encountering any remaining crave triggers associated with non-daily events that until this point may not have been encountered and confronted. If any feel a bit bigger it's a good sign not bad. It's sort of like catching a fish and that final big kick as it breaks the surface or senses sunlight. But even after landed, it still needs cleaning.
As for this final phase, it's normal to grow impatient and want it over and done. It's here that our "one day at a time" victory philosophy really serves us well. Although not nearly as challenging as nicotine withdrawal or panic type attacks associated with trigger reconditioning, it takes time for new natural and earned dopamine "aaah" memories to bury the pile we stole. Although we cannot destroy those stolen, moving out from under the influence of your dependency, you've now put yourself in position to see them under honest light.
The memories reflect the "aaah" wanting satisfaction following an addict's replenishment. There's nothing missing now and nothing in need of replenishment. Relapse now would not match expectations created by these addict's memories. Instead it would likely be closer to the rebellion your body exhibited with that first cigarette ever.
But instead of just focusing on the recorded "aaah" associated with nicotine replenishment think about the corresponding low that didn't get recorded, and all the negatives that filled that day. It may have been a case of early replenishment so as to avoid a crave command to do so, but picture your response to anger, frustration or worry as your body's fluids turned more acidic and depleted reserves of the alkaloid nicotine. Think about having waited too long between feedings, having misplaced your nicotine or running out. Remember the panic of "WHERE ARE MY CIGARETTES!! I NEED A SMOKE NOW!!!!"
Do you know the exact number of the roughly 800 million air sacs you started life with that were collectively destroyed by the last cigarette you smoked? It's nearly impossible to know. How about the nicotine/carbon monoxide double whammy to every artery in your body? Did you record the degree of blood flow destruction beside the "aaah"? How about the new studies evidencing nicotine destruction of brain gray matter? Did the "aaahs" record that the mind's ability to remember likely sustained some degree of damage at the hand of the super toxin which triggered the "aaah"?
This final phase of recovery, the one that transports us to complacency, can be the most fascinating of all. It's here we come face to face with a drug addict's rationalizations, minimizations and blame transference. It's here we discover that escaping into servicing our addiction may have left some things undone. Although some will feel a need to create new avenues of escape, hopefully they'll discover that it isn't necessary, that escapes can be self-destructive.
No, we cannot change or destroy your pile of nicotine induced "aaah" wanting satisfaction memories. But we can certainly help you see them in honest light. As with ending any relationship, chemical or otherwise, clinging to romantic fixations can lengthen the period of emotional loss. Think about it, each memory tells a lie, the lie that the way to end wanting is to use. Truth is, the only way to bring wanting to an end is the path you now walk.
I also hope you'll reflect upon how stealing "pay attention" salient memories may have overshadowed the need to earn them via goal setting, accomplishment, nurturing and companionship. Also, how nicotine became our spoon pumping stored fats and sugars into our bloodstream. Some of us never knew true hunger or that the anticipation of satisfying it brought its own aaah.
Yes, snow and flour have smell. No, it wasn't the real us to smoke a central nervous system stimulant when it was time to relax or steal a dopamine "aaah" when told that someone we love was ill, dead or dying.
At two weeks you're now at a point where you've already proven to yourself that one of your biggest fears was a lie. Nicotine did not define who you are and you don't leave your life or your edge behind. With each subconscious smoking trigger you've extinguished you've reclaimed yet another aspect of life. You're beginning to realize that recovery is a period where each challenge overcome awards you another piece of a puzzle, a puzzle that once complete will reflect a life reclaimed.
We encourage you to continue to reflect honestly upon where you've been and the amazing sense of mental quiet, calm and complacency that awaits you. This is a period where honest reflection can make thinking about relapse almost laughable. Flavor, taste? How many taste buds are inside human lungs? Still just one rule, no nicotine today!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
John (Gold x7)