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From: Parker - GOLD! Sent: 9/15/2003 11:14 AMIn 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
How many of the 800 million air sacs that we each started life with would be destroyed by that first puff of relapse and the 4,000+ chemicals that are collecticvely referred to as tar? How many healthy air sacs do each of us have remaining, 700 million, 600 million, 500 million? Do we have enough left to comfortably complete this amazing journey called life?As the ALA is fond of saying, "when you can't breathe nothing else matters." Do you want to see what advanced emphysema is like? Try breathing through a straw for a minute or two. Imagine that being your entire day. Imagine the exertion of walking from the bed to the bathroom being almost too much to handle. Imagine the straw getting thinner and thinner and thinner.
Through physical symptoms and detox, to subconscious trigger reconditioning, to conscious fixation, you may not notice but your focus is likely changing as you continue with this most amazing temporary journey of readjustment. Recognize the change in landscape for the true healing it reflects.
Whether you use each conscious fixation encounter as an opportunity to put years of rationalizations under honest light or not, with each passing day the time spent fixating will slowly begin to decline, such encounters when gradually grow further and further apart, and they generally grow less intense.
Whether hard or easy, if you'll only remain patient and allow yourself to go the distance, the day is coming where you'll awake to a re-newed expectation of going your entire day without once wanting to smoke nicotine. Such encounters will happen from time to time but they'll become the exception not the rule. When they do they may even bring a smile to your face as they'll be one of your few reminders of the amazing journey you once made.
John (Gold x5)
What was your most memorable nicotine fix each day? The first one or two in the morning after sleeping through four nicotine half-lives (about 2 hours each), the one after not being able to smoke or chew during a 20 to 40 minute meal, or upon exiting that place where you were not permitted to smoke? The longer we went between nicotine fixes the more we needed it and the more memorable it seemed to become.
It's pretty sad when you think about it. The "best" often followed our longest periods of deprivation. Boredom, like, flavor, taste, love? Shouldn't honesty compel us to admit that regardless of our excuse for the fix that what was really at work was a drug addict rationalizing a mandatory chemical need?
Just one overriding principle to staying on this side of the bars and keeping our now arrested dependency on the other ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff, Dip or Chew!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
John (Gold x7)