Turning the Corner... Acceptance

The emotions that flow from nicotine cessation

Turning the Corner... Acceptance

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

03 Jan 2003, 09:46 #1

Seems to be a common occurrence... Usually, somewhere between say 4 weeks and 4 months, sometimes a tad earlier, occasionally a bit later, we reach a hurdle. We've been through withdrawal. We've gotten ourselves really good at reconditioning triggers. But, something's still lingering. I've seen it described as a sense of doubt, a dread, a dark cloud. It's threatening. It's frightening.

Here's my take. And, it's based in part on the grieving process associated with giving up nicotine described in this post (Emotional Loss Experienced from Quitting Smoking), but not entirely. I believe the hurdle we reach has to do with the bridge from depression (the 4th phase of the grieving process) to acceptance (the 5th and final phase). Crossing that bridge is the final major hurdle, and many of us find ourselves with our feet stuck in the muck of depression as we struggle with what appears to be a daunting crossing.

During our pre-quit, our withdrawal, and our early trigger reconditioning, we deal with heavy doses of the first 3 stages (denial, anger, bargaining). It's not always pleasant, but it IS something we can sink our teeth into. There's something to push against. As long as we've got a tangible enemy to fight, things tend to be, if not pleasant, exciting and clear-cut. Meet your enemy head on.... defeat it with truth, and sometimes sheer stubbornness.

Then.... gradually, the struggle lessens. Comfort begins to kick in. We discover, "hey! this is doable!"


as we sit there, face to face with the prospect of our own success:

--The tangible struggle fades. Triggers happen, but they're fewer and farther between. We know how to deal with them now, and we recognize that they're temporary. Physical withdrawal seems a distant memory. The excitement is over. It's just me and my life, and it's time to get on with it. And, nicotine isn't a part of it. Neither is "quitting" -- I DID quit. In some ways it's like the aftermath of hosting a big party. The madness of preparation, the fun of the festivities... then, everyone's gone home, and there's just clean-up to do, and work the next day.

--We ponder our success. We ponder our identity. We're on the verge of making a transition. We've been a "smoker who's quitting" for weeks, maybe months. But, now we're feeling the comfort. We know it's doable in terms of winning the battles. We've won so many.... but, now we're at the point where something is suddenly becoming very real.... our identity as an ex-smoker... Success.

This is acceptance... and for many of us, it's terrifying! In some respects, it's simply another form of junky reasoning. But, in this case, it hits where we're still most vulnerable... our identity... our self-confidence.

"I've smoked through everything. Every celebration. Every crisis. Every monotonous moment of boredom, every study session, after meals, during the drive, after shopping, after making love, at the bar, in the bathroom, at my desk, on my porch, with Jim Bob, with Sue, with my lawyer, with my doctor, after work, during breaks, at football games, at weddings. Smoking was part of my life through every difficulty, no matter how horrific, or inconsequential. I wanted to quit badly, but deep down inside, I wonder, "can I really do this forever? Can I really manage to forge a new life for myself where I do all of the things that make up my day-to-day living without that constant security blanket?"

We question a future where celebrations and defeats, excitement and boredom are experienced without the presence of the powerful drug to which we were actively addicted for years. We question our mettle. We've made it this far, and we've proven to ourselves that it's doable. But, now we're playing for keeps. This is for good. This is permanent. Can we imagine the rest of our life as an ex-smoker?

It feels particularly difficult when we're going through it for a couple of reasons.

1) we haven't had to struggle that hard lately, and it catches us unprepared.

2) the very nature of the transition -- acceptance of yourself as an ex-smoker -- is rooted in permanence. Where before, the struggles were day-to-day, this is suddenly about me vs. eternity.

   Acceptance is an Embrace
Finally, don't simply accept your new status -- "ex-smoker"; Embrace it.
Sit down and look at it honestly.
Compare this new identity to the old one (whatever label you want to attach to what you were when you smoked.... I was a slave).
Separate yourself for a minute, and observe the 2 "yous" as an impartial 3rd party.
Look them over thoroughly. Which do you want for yourself? Choose one.
And, then, embrace it.
Life will go on, there will be good days, and bad days.
Terrible sadness, and joyous elation.
Regardless of what life is bringing you at the moment, embrace this thing that is only positive.
Embrace your decision for life.

Never stop celebrating
Quitting smoking is a tremendous gift you've given yourself.
Unlike many other gifts, this one should never lose its luster over time.
In fact, the opposite is true.
Over time, this gift becomes more important, more impactful.....
Measure it in terms of health, self-esteem, life, freedom..... but MEASURE IT.
Celebrate every day of this gift. You've earned it.

Image OBob
Last edited by OBob Gold on 15 Mar 2013, 23:07, edited 4 times in total.

Gormo Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

03 Jan 2003, 10:18 #2

Image Good Evening, Freedom! Well said Bob, Well said. I've always felt the key here was "identity." I was Gormo the smoker for over 30 years. It WAS my identity. I knew how Gormo the smoker would react to any situation, because for over 30 years, I has vast experience. It was a known entity. I was comfortable with it. It was a given.

But I Quit. Initially, it was an act of sheer will. I refused to allow myself to smoke. As you said, I had something to push against. And I pushed, and I pushed. I would not give in.

Over time the comfort level built. But still it was determination that kept me Quit. Comfort became a danger. My acceptance was not based on realizing my identity as an ex-smoker. My acceptance was based on my confidence in my ability to stave off any situation.

I never worked on my identity as an ex smoker. Gormo the smoker was always there. He just wasn't smoling at the time. Bull headed? Sure. Moving forward? No.

So now I work on identity. Gormo the ex-smoker. A new me, as is so often said here. But be honest. Are you truly living as an ex-smoker? Or are you a smoker who is abstaining for the moment?

The difference is crucial to the longevity of your Quit. Trust me on this one.

Gormo Bronze
Last edited by Gormo Gold on 01 Aug 2009, 09:30, edited 1 time in total.

GeorgieGirl GOLD
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:03

03 Jan 2003, 10:33 #3

OBob .... I am so thankful that you wrote something that you have wanted to write for a while - and doubly thankful that my post inspired you to write it. Yes - I found it very helpful. I have read it three times already. God - your insight is amazing! You have really answered so many things that myself and I am sure many others have been thinking about. You truly are a shining silver example of committment. I hope with all my soul that your post helps many others - as it has helped me. I am holding this one very close to my heart Image.


wcsdancer (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

03 Jan 2003, 10:50 #4


Bob, that was awesome, thanks for taking the time to write it. I remember a post of Marty's a long time ago. He was saying how lucky the newbies were to feel the excitement of milestones, a benefit of the early quit stages. I have thought about that from time to time without realizing why the "enthusiasm" fades. You've explained it exactly and in relation to the grieving process. You are so right to point out the stages.

I did have an advantage in some ways. I spent so much time/effort/expense hiding my addiction that I was "Candy, the not-smoker" for about 7 years while I actually was smoking. The huge relief I got from coming out of the closet made it very easy to loose my "Candy the smoker" identity. I don't miss it at all, I was ashamed.

I have had depresssion however. It seems like a lack of dopamine (maybe previously generated by nicotine). It also seems as though my eyes are wide open to other issues in my life that were previously covered by a "smoke screen".

In any case, your post, and those of others, give us contiunous fuel for thought and personal growth.
Thanks again, *Candy* (THRILLED TO BE 1 YEAR 2 MONTHS FREE)
Last edited by wcsdancer (Gold) on 01 Aug 2009, 09:32, edited 1 time in total.

Toast (GOLD )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Jan 2003, 10:51 #5

Nice addition, Gormo!
To a wonderful post, OBob!

I have to agree that there must be a rethinking of oneself as a quit progresses out of the early days. Heck, I'm still rethinking myself just because quitting showed me I could! Weeeee!

I could go on and on about self-image and being a fledgling smoker at 14, or about all the messages we received growing up about smoking by watching people we loved and admired smoking. And also by watching people we didn't love or admire smoking. And also by watching ourselves smoking as the years rolled by. But I won't go on and on. Image

Happy 01-02-03 Free People!

Image Melissa
19+ months

Melissa777 Gold
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:03

03 Jan 2003, 12:21 #6

I cannot thank you enough for wrting this. Read it, felt it, related to it, cried, saved it, printed it, and will re-read it when I need to.

You put into words things I have been feeling, but could not understand.
I needed to understand, not understanding literally hurt.

I feel like weight has been lifted a little, just by reading this.

I just wanted you to know that you helped a fellow freedom resident a great deal and that I am very thankful to have come across this.

OBob all I can say is WOW!
Thanks again :-)
a little over two months free

knowbutts (Gold)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:25

03 Jan 2003, 13:34 #7

Man, you sure can say it.
Me vs. eternity. That was the precipice my quit teetered on.
It was right after I turned bronze. I never felt so scared. It was like looking in a mirror and seeing no reflection. I had to make up my mind who was going to be looking back at me from then on.
It was a very humbling experience.

As I recall you were right here to give me a good dope-slap OBob.
Thanks again buddy.

1 year 1 month 22 days

Parker GOLD
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

03 Jan 2003, 23:36 #8

If I had read this piece during my first couple of months I would have thought: "very nice...very articulate...but that isn't me...I'm thrilled to have quit but I will never feel that kind of comfort." Remember this great post of Marty's? What does my quit mean to me now? I read that in total awe that anyone could ever feel that way.

There is a saying in Al-anon: GIVE TIME TIME. That is what a quit needs. Time to take root. And after taking root it still takes time for the first buds to develop and then more time for them to burst into bloom.

It has taken time for the day-to-day, forever reality of not smoking to send down deep roots in me. I accept my addiction and my recovery. Thank you, Bob, for creating another beautiful piece that provides sustenance for my quit.

Parker - 30 weeks
Last edited by Parker GOLD on 18 Aug 2010, 20:03, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:37

04 Jan 2003, 23:45 #9

Thank You OBob for shedding a new light on a phase of my quit that I thought I wasn't going to be able to get through.

I have been fighting and some days secumming to depression for many weeks now. I relized that I did have other issues to deal with not just the emotional loss and talk about junkie thinking kicking in. " I would rather smoke than go through life feeling like this."
I have stayed true to my quit and I am finally seeing some light at the end of My very long tunnel.
Your words have made me see that I have been afraid to take that final leap of faith in myself.

Thank You
I have been Quit for: 1M 3W 2D 11h 15m. I have NOT smoked 2451, for a savings of $428.94. Life Saved: 1W 1D 12h 15m.

SweetLorraine (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

05 Jan 2003, 00:08 #10

Image Another great one OBob.

I have to agree with Candy - the closet smoker has an advantage as far as accepting the ex-smoker identity - it is a relief not to live a lie. I even lied to myself, I told myself I smoked because I like it.

The choice between using addict and non-using addict is easy. The freedom to go any where is exhillerating. Being in charge of my own life, my time and my money is heady stuff. Nicotine used to be in charge of everything in my life and if I failed to cater to it for a few hours it made my life miserable.


Lorraine Gold Club (The ultimate cool group - saving a seat for you OBob!) Image
Last edited by SweetLorraine (Gold) on 01 Aug 2009, 09:33, edited 1 time in total.