Subconscious use cue extinguishment

Don't Get Discouraged!

Parker GOLD
Parker GOLD

September 15th, 2003, 11:14 pm #1

In the past couple days, there was more than one post by members who admitted to doing some serious thinking about smoking. Folks on their way to or just past gold. I, for one, am glad that they shared. This forum is enriched by our honest sharing of our experiences of quitting.
When I was newly quit, I read posts by old time members who talked about never wanting to smoke. They spoke of total comfort. I assumed this meant they never had even a nanosecond of thought about cigarettes. That, of course, led me to believe that I was retarded in my progress. Because even as my quit time continued to pile up, there were these….thoughts. In the early months of quitting, they plagued me and I was pretty sure they would never go away.
The truth is they have not gone away completely. However, they have diminished to the point that they concern me not at all anymore. I've written before about the fact that as my quit matured the thoughts became harmless little things. A little whoosh through the brain. Completely painless.
The thoughts would only have power if I latched onto them. If I grabbed that thought as it was flying by and captured it and began to stroke it and worry about it and magnify it and reproduce it and clutch it to me….then it would cease to be powerless. It would grow in size and strength and take up more and more space in my brain. I might begin to feel less grateful for my freedom and more like I was deprived of something. Then perhaps some feelings of resentment might arise. Maybe I might even begin to entertain the thought that this one puff leads to relapse business is a bunch of malarkey. I imagine that more than one of you is nodding your head in recognition as you read this. We've all been there---this is junkie thinking. This is one of the long-term results of drug addiction.
Personally, I counteract any tendency to sink into that cycle by taking care of my quit. I do that by reading here at the forum. Reading someone's first post full of fear and confusion and new hope reminds me of where I started. Posting congratulations for an accomplishment reminds me of my own successes. Participating in a parade fills me with a sense of wonder at how well we are all doing with out quits.
There is no denying that those recent posts are scary. They remind us of the deadly power of this addiction. We don't just quit and then lah-di-dah our way through the rest of our lives. Initially, we need to work hard at our quits. Then comes a time when we realize the work is not as hard. We are able to ease up, we think less about it. But, we never get to forget that we are addicts in recovery. Nobody graduates from addiction.
Perhaps some people think that you quit smoking and now it's over. End of story. Close the book. File this away as an unfortunate incident of the past. You don't need to think about it anymore. Well, we do need to think about it - not obsessively, not continually - but it needs our attention. We need to remember how desperate we felt to quit. We need to remember how awful withdrawal might have been. We need to remember how we began to gradually feel better and could concentrate on something besides not smoking. We need to remember how we began to understand that years of smoking had stunted our emotional responses. We need to remember cutting ourselves off from other people in order to smoke. We need to remember that we quit smoking because we valued our lives and ourselves enough to take a frightening step into the unknown territory of recovery.
It's fine by me to get a little scared once in a while. Keeps me grateful for my quit. Reminds me of what a precious gift I am giving myself every day.
So, don't lose heart!
Don't get discouraged!
This is hard work, but it does get easier. All you have to do is keep reading here and you see that. Post after post after post reinforces the message that this is doable and desirable. There is real comfort on this journey and it is yours for the taking as long as you never take another puff.
(There I go stealing Joel's lines again!)
Parker - 15 months of freedom & healing and obviously very long-winded today
Last edited by Parker GOLD on November 5th, 2009, 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: January 16th, 2003, 8:00 am

September 15th, 2003, 11:45 pm #2

The thoughts would only have power if I latched onto them. If I grabbed that thought as it was flying by and captured it and began to stroke it and worry about it and magnify it and reproduce it and clutch it to me….then it would cease to be powerless.
Yes! Thanks for this post, Parker. It's definitely golden.

Sal
Eight months, three days, 9 hours
Last edited by Sal GOLD.ffn on November 5th, 2009, 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PegIsGold
PegIsGold

September 15th, 2003, 11:45 pm #3

Thank you, Parker, for putting it into such clear, concise wording.
I'm only a couple of months into my Quit, but I place so much value on it. I had to work hard to get to this level of comfort and appreciation, and it is one of my most prized possessions.
However, I realize that freedom from tobacco doesn't negate the fact that we still have the freedom of choice. I know that if I choose to relapse and play Russian Roulette with my health, all I have to do is go ahead light one up. End of story. End of Quit.

YQS - Peg
Proud to be Two Months, Thirteen Days, 21 Hours and 42 Minutes Nicotine Free, making the choice to NTAP
Last edited by PegIsGold on November 5th, 2009, 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jdinkcmoGOLD
jdinkcmoGOLD

September 16th, 2003, 12:09 am #4

What a beautiful post, Parker. Thank you for saying out loud what a great many must feel. Your post should be required reading for all of us when we reach Gold. yqs, JD

Judy is SILVER and has been nic free for: 7M 4W 1D 8h 57m and has NOT smoked 10951 smelly cigs, for a grand $$$ savings of $1,834.42 plus life of Freedom extended by: 1M 1W 35m.
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Toast (GOLD )
Toast (GOLD )

September 16th, 2003, 12:23 am #5

Exellent, excellent, excellent!!
A very excellent post there, Ms. Parker,! Quitting smoking is not pretending smoking away. Well, not if a body wants to stay quit, that is.
Thank you!
Melissa
27 months and counting 2 days to welcoming an old friend to gold ...
Last edited by Toast (GOLD ) on November 5th, 2009, 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Hillbilly(Gold)
Hillbilly(Gold)

September 16th, 2003, 12:25 am #6

Well said, Parker, and very timely.
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MareBear GOLD
MareBear GOLD

September 16th, 2003, 12:28 am #7

Terrific post Parker! This is definitely one for the archives. Just because we're comfortable doesn't mean that the little thoughts have completely stopped. We just know what to do with them... or what NOT to do, I guess.
We have the power to maintain our quits. It has always been there (just like Dorothy always had the power to go home again ), but our addicted minds refused to allow us to hope. Now that there is time and space between us and our active addictions, we can remain free simply by remembering our commitment to our quits. As Parker said, not obsessing, just remember. Use the tools you've been given. Read Joel's library. Send out an SOS. This too shall pass and your quit will be intact.
Right on Parker!
YQS,
MareBear

1 year, 3 months +++
Last edited by MareBear GOLD on November 5th, 2009, 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Alyson GOLD.ffn
Alyson GOLD.ffn

September 16th, 2003, 12:34 am #8

Recovery is a lifelong journey. Recent months have kept me so busy that I haven't had time for posting but I do read at Freedom at least every couple of days. I return so that I'll always appreciate my journey and acknowledge all of its aspects.

Once in a great while a smoking thought will pass through my brain. I appreciate the reminder that as a smoker, I was not the master of my own time, my own activities, my own life - I was so much at the mercy of my addiction that AT NEARLY 15 MONTHS CLEAN, the siren can still sing out. It's a potent reinforcement of the fact that nicotine cravings ruled me for twenty years. I am forced to remember how I responded immediately, a slave to my drug, over and over, all day long, every day. I was a gerbil on a wheel.

Now, I'm gratefully back in charge and life on this side of the bars is so much better in so many ways. So, when a brief thought visits me, I accept it as evidence that I have been permanently altered and proof that I can never take another puff. I remember how nicotine was integrated at every level of my conscious and subconscious life like a parasite and take the opportunity to celebrate reclaiming my birthright to exist free. I walk on and walk tall.

I never have to smoke again.
What a relief.
What a joy!
YQS,
Alyson
14+ months
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SweetLorraine (Gold)
SweetLorraine (Gold)

September 16th, 2003, 2:36 am #9

Hi Parker,
Excellent post and very timely. I'd like to add at this point in my quit I consider visiting Freedom to be entirely voluntary. I consider the lesson learned here to be well ingrained to that point of unconscious competence that I so longed for in the early days.
So why come here most days? Partially because I'm as Marty pointed out long ago a 'habitual' kind of person, partly because this is part of my personal daily celebration of Freedom. Partly as a reminder of how steep that trail was in the beginning. And once in awhile to read an inspirational new post.
Thanks for the inspiration Parker,
Lorraine Gold Club
Last edited by SweetLorraine (Gold) on November 5th, 2009, 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Shinelady Gold3282003
Shinelady Gold3282003

September 16th, 2003, 4:18 am #10



Thanks Parker,
This is beautifully written. I think it is wonderful that members, of this group, are so free with the feelings and emotions they experience in their quits.
You summed it all up so perfectly. You've shared with us another "Parker classic" for sure.... Thanks for being you....

yqs, sue
Five months, two weeks, three days, 22 hours, 25 minutes and 15 seconds. 6837 cigarettes not smoked, saving $987.76. Life saved: 3 weeks, 2 days, 17 hours, 45 minutes.
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SurrenderGold
SurrenderGold

September 16th, 2003, 6:14 am #11

Thank you Parker for an excellent post. I used to think I was "different" because I still did and still do think about smoking, although the thoughts are very rarely a problem anymore. After smoking for many years I don't believe the thoughts just disappear. There are some days when I still want a cigarette but the thoughts are usually fleeting and easily ignored, then there are days when I don't think about smoking at all. I still come here often for re-inforcement and when I have thoughts of smoking all I have to do is remember one = all and that is something I definitely don't want. It's been a hard journey but very worth it. Sheila
Nine months, three weeks, three days, 10 hours, 13 minutes and 14 seconds. 4163 cigarettes not smoked, saving $728.59. Life saved: 2 weeks, 10 hours, 55 minutes.
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David Gold
David Gold

September 16th, 2003, 6:48 am #12

Hello Parker,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that post. I have come in here from time to time and looked at everyone's happy posts and thinking that everyone else was moving ahead and I was stuck in the mud. I've had a pretty normal quit with a few anxious moments early on. After a while I charged out ahead with all the glee that comes from thinking you have started a new life.

I really crashed hard when I realized that this wasn't a "new" life but the same "old" life without cigarettes. I started exercising and eating right and I am feeling great for the most part. I just had to realize that nothing magical happens when you quit smoking. You don't become a brand new person. You're the same old you without the cigarettes.

I still think about smoking every now and then but it doesn't consume me. I am a happy ex-smoker who will have to be happy with how far I've come. I love not smoking and wouldn't trade my life now for the way it used to
be.

Thanks Parker,
David
1 year +
Last edited by David Gold on June 3rd, 2011, 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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janetd (GOLD)
janetd (GOLD)

September 16th, 2003, 7:40 am #13

Thanks for the excellent post, Parker! I still think about smoking but I can deal with a thought. Take it, look at it, turn it over, and be done. This is a life-long commitment being taken one day at a time. I like it a lot.

yqs, Janet :)
One Year Eight Months
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ComicForces GOLD
ComicForces GOLD

September 16th, 2003, 9:27 pm #14

You know, I thought a lot about this thread last night.

I am not as far along as the gold members, but I am almost 7 months into my quit. In my "silver" post, I talked about how I think I appreciate life more now as an ex-smoker than a never-smoker may appreciate life. I said this because I've now been on both sides of the coin. I've lived in the state of constant nicotine withdrawal. I've lived the guilty I-should-really-stop-this life. I've lived the I'll-quit-tomorrow, this-is-my-last-pack life. I've lived in the I'll-just-smoke-while-I'm-drinking world. I was a closet smoker. I was constantly guilt-ridden whenever I thought about what some people would think of me if they knew I smoked.

Now I'm on the "other" side. The side where I don't CONSTANTLY have a burden on my shoulders about what I am doing to my own body. I don't have the nagging "I really HAVE TO quit" thoughts in my head anymore. I can enjoy spending time with friends and family and be PRESENT, instead of mentally plotting when I can have the next smoke. I can run like the wind. I don't dread physical activities -- from walking up a flight of steps at work to helping a friend move -- because I know I have the strength and the energy to do just about anything any person with a normal lung capacity can do.

So… I've been on both sides, as all of us here at Freedom have. Who wouldn't think that, hands down, the smoke free life is the "better" life? I know some people posted in this thread that when you quit smoking, you are the same person as when you smoked, except that you no longer smoke. The further I get into my quit, I do see truth to this, but I also think that smoking DOES change your life… I think it can make you a different person if you let it. Even a pack-a-day smoker… Say you spend 5 minutes (minimum) smoking each cig in the pack. That's almost an hour and a half of each and every day of your life spent puffing away. Changing something that you did for over an hour each day EVERY DAY, without fail, for YEARS, is HUGE. Even just emotionally, there's a pretty big adjustment. Physically, it's another, different kind of adjustment. It's a different life. (At least, in my opinion!!!)

Like I said in the beginning of this post, I thought a lot about this thread last night. I really REALLY love what Parker said when she started the thread (in so many words): that craves are what you make them and you can make them bigger than they need to be. When I stopped to think about what I am doing, living this enjoyable smoke-free life, did I feel VERY nostalgic about the days I used to smoke out my apartment window the split second a visitor left? YES. Do I feel nostalgic about getting back together with old college friends and smoking two packs of Camel Red Lights? YES. Do I feel nostalgic about having a pack of cigs on snow days….and just standing outside in the peace and quiet, the white snow all around me, smoking away, enjoying the cool winter air? YES! Oh my gosh, YES.

But… I can't hold onto those memories as they relate to smoking. What good will it do me? I think you can mourn the loss of a person, say, by looking back fondly at the good times. But I really cannot allow myself to look back fondly at smoking. I can for a few moments, as I did last night, getting all nostalgic…but I can't spend much time dwelling on that. If I do, as Parker suggested, the crave/nostaglia/etc will get even bigger and more powerful.

Sometimes I find it helps, when I start thinking fondly back to my smoking days, to run up a flight of stairs. Nothing big, even 12 steps in an office building stairwell. Just quickly shoot up the flight of steps. Then think about what I felt like doing the same thing 7 months ago. Or, when I get to the top, I ask myself if I want a cigarette? The answer is always NO. You all should try it.

I guess, as was also stated in this thread, that's the problem with addiction. That's why addiction is BAD (I'm speaking in 5-year-old language here!). It is a shame that we'll have to deal with this addiction our whole lives. Others who never smoked (or were never addicted) don't have to deal with it. I do see my current non-smoking life as a gift. I do feel like I appreciate things a lot more. But, sometimes when I'm at the gym, all tired and sweaty, I start thinking: it would be a LOT easier if I just forgot about this stupid exercise routine, went home, and smoked a pack of cigarettes. But then I have to think…Would it?

Thanks for listening!!!!!!!

ComicForces
6 months 3 weeks 5 days
Last edited by ComicForces GOLD on June 3rd, 2011, 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Toast (GOLD )
Toast (GOLD )

September 17th, 2003, 12:50 am #15

A pleasure to listen, CF, when what you say is so true!

 Melissa
27 months
Last edited by Toast (GOLD ) on June 3rd, 2011, 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jeanne Gold
Jeanne Gold

September 17th, 2003, 1:20 am #16

Beatiful post, Parker, and thank you for saying so well what I feel in my heart every single day. I used to live with a mind that obsessively put my drug above every other person or thing in my life for many, many years and promised to continue to get worse until it crippled or killed me or at least made me broke and miserable on a daily basis. I worked so very hard to break free from the monster of nicotine addiction and I WON! I can make decisions about my life and my family without one concern over how or when I will be able to feed the addiction. I flow smoothly through my days without so much as a thought to smoking unless it's to notice how badly someone else smells or how unhealthy they look because they smoke. I am 100% free from the way I suffered as an actively-feeding addict.

Do I ever have an undefeated trigger slap me in the face?
Rarely, it happens, but it doesn't last very long.
Do I ever find myself wanting to smoke?
Rarely, it happens, but it doesn't last very long.
Do I allow these rare and fleeting thoughts to consume me and make me romanticize the drug that was ruining my life and trying to kill me?
HECK NO, I DON'T! I just acknowledge the trigger, remind myself that I no longer smoke, and it doesn't take much convincing since I am now sickened by the stench. I also acknowledge that it would only take one puff to make me not care about the stench anymore, not care about my kids anymore, not care that my life is calm now, even when things get crazy, I am still calm because today I have the ability to choose whether or not I'm going to smoke. When I was smoking, I never had that choice. All my choices were made for me.

If I had it to do all over again, would I do anything different? Yep, I would. I would not be so scared of quitting and I would have quit years sooner. It's the best thing I ever did, and I love myself for doing it. It's just my opinion, but I think anyone who is at a year's quit and is still missing smoking has forgotten why they started down this road to begin with. What's there to miss about slow-motion suicide? A little perspective always does the trick for me.

Boy, I don't post for months, then I can't stop the fingers....geez! I must feel passionately about this or something.

~Jeanne
Eleven months and totally in love with my quit!
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valeriescleanGOLD
valeriescleanGOLD

September 17th, 2003, 2:26 am #17

Thank you Parker! I enjoyed this post so much. I will NEVER forget how I felt actively using my drug nicotine. I made a promise to myself that I never would. And every day I am grateful for the Freedom I have earned, One Day at a Time, by Never Taking Another Puff!

Valerie
8 Months 2 Weeks and 1 awesome day of Freedom!
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John (Gold)
John (Gold)

December 5th, 2003, 5:31 pm #18

"The thoughts would only have power if I latched onto them. If I grabbed that thought as it was flying by and captured it and began to stroke it and worry about it and magnify it and reproduce it and clutch it to me….then it would cease to be powerless. It would grow in size and strength and take up more and more space in my brain. I might begin to feel less grateful for my freedom and more like I was deprived of something. Then perhaps some feelings of resentment might arise. Maybe I might even begin to entertain the thought that this one puff leads to relapse business is a bunch of malarkey. I imagine that more than one of you is nodding your head in recognition as you read this. We've all been there---this is junkie thinking. This is one of the long-term results of drug addiction."
Parker

Last edited by John (Gold) on November 5th, 2009, 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jennyissilver
jennyissilver

May 4th, 2004, 10:01 am #19

Thank you, Parker, for both writing this and for sending it up for me. It deserves to be read again and again by all of us. When I turn silver, this is the post that I want to list as my favorite.

There are some extraordinary thinkers and writers here at Freedom and you are certainly one of the best.

Jenny
Free, free, free since March 23, 2004
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smurfetteirl
smurfetteirl

May 4th, 2004, 9:44 pm #20

fantastic post Parker( sounded like it was wrote just for me )!!!
wonderful stuff from
Alison in post 8
David in post 12
ComicForces in post 14 and
Jeanne in post 16
im so glad they all wrote to you parker, its a diamond thread alright!


i agree with you Jenny, it deserves to be read and read and read
because it is so true and needs to be remembered.
lynda
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Parker GOLD
Parker GOLD

August 24th, 2004, 1:45 am #21

For Jeff...who has worked hard to maintain his beautiful quit.
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johnny
johnny

August 25th, 2004, 4:21 am #22

WHAT A BLAST FROM THE PAST! THANKS PARKER. I NEEDED THAT! johnny-free&healing
I have stopped nicotine for 3 months, 25 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 24 seconds (116 days).
I've not smoked 2919 death sticks, and saved $439.98.
I've saved 10 days, 3 hours and 15 minutes of my life.
Last edited by johnny on November 5th, 2009, 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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kwhtlw
kwhtlw

August 25th, 2004, 5:24 am #23

What he said!
Thanks Parker!!

Kevin, NicFree & Luv'n It for 68 days. I quit chewing tobacco on 6/17/04, and have save $341.49 while expecting to be on earth 2 Days, 8 hours and 50 minutes longer.
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John (Gold)
John (Gold)

December 4th, 2004, 2:45 am #24

The nicotine industry wants us back as we each represent thousands of dollars in lost income .... if we lived that long. They're spending billions and billions in marketing each year to lure us into relapse by trying to convince us that we're missing out on pleasure, adventure, flavor and taste.
Don't let the facade and maze of marketing at the gas station, grocery store or pharmacy convince you that one chemical is worth 14 years of life. That's absolutely crazy. But that's what chemical addiciton is all about, a craziness willing to exchange freedom, health and life itself for an unearned flood of dopamine.
Baby steps, just one day at a time and it won't be long before the primary discouragement you feel isn't about quitting nicotine but of watching other smokers you care for or love be deprived of their own natural beauty hidden beneath de-sensitized neuronal pathways, scores of conditioned feeding cues and a small mountain of dependency rationalizations. Millions of words in Freedom's 250 thousand member posts but only one rule ... no nicotine today! John (Gold x5)
Last edited by John (Gold) on November 5th, 2009, 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Parker GOLD
Parker GOLD

December 18th, 2004, 9:19 pm #25

From: Jeanne-Gold
"Do I ever have an undefeated trigger slap me in the face?
Rarely, it happens, but it doesn't last very long.
Do I ever find myself wanting to smoke?
Rarely, it happens, but it doesn't last very long.
Do I allow these rare and fleeting thoughts to consume me and make me romanticize the drug that was ruining my life and trying to kill me?
HECK NO, I DON'T! I just acknowledge the trigger, remind myself that I no longer smoke.... I also acknowledge that it would only take one puff to make me not care about the stench anymore, not care about my kids anymore, not care that my life is calm now, even when things get crazy, I am still calm because today I have the ability to choose whether or not I'm going to smoke. When I was smoking, I never had that choice. All my choices were made for me."

~Jeanne
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