Good morning! Just stopping by to share a little. First off, thank you for sharing my six year smoke free anniversary with me yesterday. These kinds of days are good for remembering just how far one has gone.
Quitting smoking is in reality an amazing event for many reasons. We find that we have to look inside of ourselves and really learn the innermost parts of our beings in order to quit. We have to first understand how we got in this mess of addiction in the first place before we can understand how to get out of it.
To me, thinking of the beginning helped me to reach that part of myself that needed to be reached in order to succeed. I was quite young when I first started smoking, and for me I started mostly because of peer pressure. You know, as a kid we tend to not think of the consequences of our actions when we make decisions. It’s really not an excuse. Rather, for me it’s just a fact of life.
When I realized for the first time why I started building my addiction, I was able to forgive myself of my past mistake. To me, this is important. Taking a moment to say, “OK! What I did in the past was stupid, but that was then and this is now. I will fix my past transgression, and move on!” was a first step for me.
One cannot change the past, but the present can be used to change our future. I always try to remember that what I do right now, on this day will decide what my future will look like. On the harder days of my quit, this was like a mantra to me. Thinking of the future and wanting that future of freedom more than anything makes it easier to deal with what we’re feeling right now.
But the main thing that we do when we quit is create a change in our lives. One that might not seem easy at first, but one that completely changes the future.
It’s human nature to fear change. It’s just a natural part of us that’s related to the survival instinct. Just like climbing a mountain, the task can seem insurmountable when we take that first step upward. But looking to that summit and longing to be there no matter what it takes distracts us from the reality that we must now live.
So take heart! Never believe that this new change in your life will be anything but wonderful! Try to see yourself in a month or a year, holding your head high and being proud of what you did back in the beginning. And each day of success builds for the next day. Each day of success takes us to new heights and soon, like on the mountain, we can look back and see just how far we’ve come.
Soon, we can see just how close the summit really is. And yes, with each passing day we find strength. With each passing day we find a better life. Soon rather than dwelling on our current discomfort, it becomes easy to look ahead and grasp the coming freedom and in the end I can now say from experience that you’ll be glad you took that first step. Life will just look so much brighter! It’s within all of us to win. All we have to do to get started is get past that fear of change and embrace what lies ahead!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Today marks six years since I put out my last cigarette! My, how time flies and sometimes in an incredibly wonderful way. I still remember the moment I put out that last cigarette and there’s a reason for this. You see, remembering that moment in a positive way just helps to keep the resolve for year after year after year.
It’s not so much the moment that’s important but how I got there. The fighting with myself and the endless doubt that addiction can create within a person. The longing to be free while fearing the very freedom that I longed for. The days of wondering if I really had it in me to beat a monster that in itself lived within me.
In the end I realized that the monster within me was of my own creation. That the beast was given strength by the very mind that wanted to be ridded of it. So to find my own strength to beat myself, I had to find my heart. I had to find my love for life and for all that might be in the future of that life if I could just get past my own stupid mind.
I looked inward and felt fear. I looked at what would be my changing in my life and found fear. I looked to my current life of smoking and somehow found peace. It was crazy! How could I be my own worst enemy? And how could I beat something that lived totally within myself. Something that without realizing it, I had spent so many sad years creating? My God! How could I beat myself?
I was angry with the things I’d already done. I couldn’t believe that so long ago I’d started building what would surely be a future of misery, where my health would steadily fade as I continued to believe in my own invincibility. When I convinced myself that bad things only happened to others and that somehow I was immune from the risks of the life I had enslaved myself with.
Soon I actually lost my resolve. Soon I surrendered to a life of a misery of my own creation and I ignored the realities of what I was doing, somehow finding sanctuary in what would surely be the death of me. I was totally convinced of a lie that could not be!
So long as I didn’t think about quitting, I was calm. So long as I never thought about my future, and lit another cigarette, I was calm.
But then one day, a crack appeared within the almost impenetrable wall that I had created for myself. I have to admit, it was a very small crack at first but for the first time, I embraced it. For the first time, I took a moment to see how things could be different. For the first time I allowed myself to see things as they could be, rather than how they are.
I thought about the future of the ones I loved and the way my life of addiction was going, that future didn’t look good. Then I took a moment and saw that same future in a new light. One where I’d beaten myself. One where I could look back at the decisions I’d made and be content that though I’d lived in fear of freedom for so long, that if I could win the war within my own mind that the future would be smiles instead of sadness. That I still had a chance to enjoy those that I loved and not bring them misery.
The crack began opening, very slowly at first until one day I believed that I could beat the enemy within. The addict within that I had created. Still, there was so much fear. But I took a step to make myself accountable to myself. A step where I could almost believe that yes, I could win this!
I picked up the phone and called the Colorado Quitline. I remember a voice that sounded like it was smiling on the other end and guess what? I hung up! I was shaking and sweating. My mind was reeling! How could I even have entertained the idea that I wanted freedom more than I wanted the peace that my addiction fed me with each new cigarette.
I lit a cigarette and walked into the other room, convinced that I’d thrown this insane thought away. I mean after all, smoking was a part of me. But then the light came through the crack in my wall again, and for some reason, this time I grabbed hold of that light. It suddenly seemed like the light of a lighthouse stabbing through on a dark and foggy night, showing me that if I could just reach that shore, then I would see the greater light.
I lit a cigarette and it slid through my sweaty fingers, falling to the floor. I looked at it for a moment and realized that this was where that cigarette belonged. Far, far away from me. I picked up the phone again and called that quitline. Again, a friendly voice answered and asked if they could help me. This time I said “yes!”
We talked for awhile, my voice trembling and when I was done with that phone call, I had ordered nicotine patches and agreed to do something to actually start the quit. I wouldn’t smoke a cigarette for the first half hour after I woke up. The thought terrified me, but that next morning, I did it!
And then with a renewed confidence, I waited an hour the next day and the next. I was feeding the crack in the wall of my addiction. I was feeding the light of my future. And you know what? I was starting to feel really good about it!
I found becomeanex.org on the quitline website and went there, introducing myself and getting set up. Turns out, that was one of the best moves I’d ever made. To find others just as scared as I was and yet still doing it. Still choosing every day to continue the fight! There was understanding for all the thoughts that I thought were so alien to me. There were others that felt just like me but more importantly, there were others who were grabbing that light of the future! A place where people really understood what I was going through.
I came here daily, preparing myself for the final day of freedom. I did a lot of prep work, until one day I believed in myself and my heart enough that I knew I could do it. That I could bring myself from the darkness and into the light of the day that suddenly seemed so attainable.
And six years ago today, I put out that last cigarette. I found the light that was calling to me for so long. I dreamed of climbing a mountain that I named Mt. Freedom. In my mind I carried what I called the addict within up that mountain with me, understanding that if I could keep my enemy close, then not only could I fight it but in the end, I could understand it. That I could see it for what it really was. The old ball and chain.
It’s always good to remember where it all started, I think. Always good to remember the battles that were fought so long ago. To see that we really can take our futures into our own hands. And now, six years later, to feel the fruits of labor that started so long ago.
There is peace in that future my friends. There’s so much peace and you know what? That peace comes from the light of freedom. That peace comes from knowing that though once enslaved, I know longer am.
There’s so much waiting for all of you no matter what stage of your quit you’re in. There’s a future that is as bright as you can imagine it now.
I hope that all of you keep climbing the slopes of Mt. Freedom as I did and so many others have as well. It’s a beautiful summit filled with peace and there’s a banner up there waiting for you. The banner of freedom! I hope to see all of you up there, waving that banner high over your head as I did, confident in the fact that now the future’s looking brighter.
That the peace and freedom really is there. We all deserve it. All we have to do is take that first step, just as I did seemingly so long ago. Your future awaits you!! Go for it!!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!!!
I'm a 52 year old male who has been smoking for about as long as I can remember. (But they say the memory is the first thing to go.) I have quit once before for about a year when I was 30. I stupidly started again when I lost my life partner and never looked back until now. I am looking forward to a smoke free life for several reasons. One is of course overall quality of life. Feeling better, smelling better, breathing better and most of all with any luck I can reward myself by doing something I haven't done in years, mountain climbing.
I've used support forums before when I went through treatments for the hepatitis C virus and found it to be more then helpful. It was a life saver! I am greatful to have found this web site and hope to prove that the tecniques listed here work!
Quit smoking on 2/20/2011 at 8:15P.M. using the nicotine patch. Loving life smoke free! Onward to freedom!!
No website in profile.
Buena Vista, Colorado
writing, hiking, camping, Music, Reading
No skills in profile.
Hello all of you wonderful and committed people! It’s been awhile since I last blogged here, but I ran into a little blast from the past last night. It consisted of two straws. Both cut a little short. One intact and one with the end chewed on. One might find it strange that something like this would remind me of all of you, but in reality to me, it was wonderful to see for several reasons.
You see, five and a half years ago I chose to claim my freedom from the addiction of cigarettes. I knew it would be hard and feared perhaps another failure, not that I’d really tried to quit but rather fantasized about how good it would feel to be free. Of how wonderful it would be to no longer wonder just how lousy my future would be if I didn’t quit. Of wondering just what I was doing to my body as I continued to feed it the two headed snake, one head being the addiction and the other being what that addiction was doing to my health.
To make a long story short, I chose to change my entire life on Feb. 20, over five years ago. I’d only really tried to quit one time before and using the patches, I did manage to quit for a year, though for six months of that time I was addicted to the patches.
I took up smoking again for quite a few years and then one day made the necessary commitment to myself. I again used the patches but vowed that in this quit I would only do the recommended six week course of treatment. I prepared for months, trying to learn my addiction in order to win forever this time around.
And I actually took that first hard step one day. Now, at first I consumed so much food that was not good for me at all, but I didn’t care! Anything to keep me from starting again was OK with me. Now comes the straws. Eventually for some reason Dale (jonescarp) told me in as reply to a blog that I might as well be smoking air, though I no longer remember what he was replying to.
I took this message to heart in a strange way. I bought a pack of straws and cut them to a length that fit into my pocket. Rather than consuming tons of food, I started using these straws and yes, smoking air. Somehow this helped me to keep a grip on my addiction. I used them for some time, realizing that it was going to be much easier to quit smoking air than it was for the cigarettes.
And I must say, though the entire experience was hard, it was well worth the benefits! I find life to be so much more enriched, even as I battle with mild COPD that developed some time after I quit. I consider myself to be lucky in my new life. I really only feel symptoms of COPD when I catch a cold, and though it becomes a fight for a while, I get so much good health in between those bouts. So yes, I’m incredibly happy to live this new life.
My heart goes out to all of you who still must struggle to win a new life. If you can just take that first step, then there’s so much life still to live in freedom! There’s a future out there that is incredible! And yes, every day that you wake up free, is a day to smile. A new day of achievement! Yet another day to be true to oneself. And when we wake up free of the worries of what we’re doing to ourselves, we just end up with a new spring in our steps. An awareness of just how wonderful the life is that we chose to fight for really is.
So fight on my friends! Do what you have to do to win and one day you too will wake up to a new day with that smile not only on your face but with a happiness and confidence in yourself that reaches all the way to the soul.
I’m kind of a transient blogger here, though I think of all of you often. I will be in touch again for a while!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Good morning EXer’s! A while ago I wrote a blog about severe breathing problems that I had encountered. After I wrote the blog, I ended up on steroids for a couple of weeks, along with inhalers and oxygen.
My blood oxygen level back then was tracking between 86-88%. Not good! When I first started the steroids, I found that I could breathe once again! It was a wonderful feeling to say the least. I saw a pulmonologist and he ordered some breathing tests. While I waited to take those tests, I continued to get better. I quit using oxygen and each day my blood oxygen level increased until today I’m between 92-95% nearly all of the time.
I just got my test results back and was told that I have a very mild COPD, coupled with mild asthma. My lung capacity is down ten percent, but that’s considered pretty good for someone my age!
All in all, I had a bit of a scare when I couldn’t breathe. But that exacerbation might have gotten my COPD diagnosed at a very early stage. The doctor believes that with aggressive treatment using the inhalers, that the damage can be minimized.
Sure, there’s going to be some differences to things now that I have this diagnosis. Colds and viruses can set off another incident, but now I’m aware of it, know what to look for and how to treat it earlier on so that it hopefully doesn’t get so bad.
All in all, I feel pretty good about things. I’m happy with my life and love my freedom. In fact, every morning when I wake I take a nice deep breath and thank myself for making that decision that I made over five years ago. Every morning I look to my vision of Mt. Freedom and smile for you see, I really did make it to that summit. I really did find freedom! And it was as wonderful as I always believed it would be.
So never for a moment think that the journey of life isn’t worth it. Never lose sight of the love of life that can help us to succeed. Always keep your eye on the summit and remember, what you’re doing now will determine what your future will look like!
Myself, I’m pretty happy that I chose life over slow, lingering death. Sure I have some complications from my addiction but those could’ve been much worse by now if I hadn’t quit smoking when I did.
And now I can still look forward to planting my garden. To creating a landscape that will always remind me of the freedom I have created for myself. If you haven’t quit yet, then there’s no better time than right now to do so.
Go for it!! You’ll be so glad that you did!!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Good morning EXer’s!!
The other day I wrote about the fact that I was having breathing problems. But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about a celebration! A celebration of life and the desire to live that life to the fullest, no matter what tries to stand in our way.
I’ve never been one who believes in darkness. Rather, I always choose to see the rainbow on the other side of the thundercloud or the diamond in the lump of coal. I believe that what we do now determines what our future will look like later. And I always look for a positive one, because there’s just no room for negativity.
Funny thing is, I was an addict. For some reason, when it came to smoking, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or rather, I tried to ignore that light because in order to see it, I would have to give up my addiction. And somehow deep in my mind, I listened to the lies of that addiction rather than seeing the light that I somehow always knew was there. I was firmly in the grip of a lie! A lie that I fed myself over and over again until one day a small glimmer appeared off in the distance, like a star shining through the clouds of an overcast night.
And I stared at that little point of light and it grew for you see, on that day I saw through the lies of my addiction. On that day all that I knew was there became reality. On that day I chose to once again look to the light rather than dwell in a darkness of my own making. On that day I chose to take my life back!
And as soon as I thought of the idea of quitting my addiction, I felt fear. I don’t mean the thought bothered me but rather, I started shaking! I was terrified of just the thought of doing this one positive thing that I could do for myself. And so, I lit a cigarette. Huh? What the hell was I thinking! Darn it!
This was a day of confusion and triumph. The confusion of facing a new reality that I somehow wanted to face and yet I was terrified of facing it. I picked up the phone and called the Colorado quitline. A pleasant voice answered the phone. I hung up on her! I lit another cigarette. My palms were sweaty. In fact, I was sweating all over!
I calmed down a bit, put out that cigarette and made the call again. This time when the pleasant voice answered, I found my voice, though it was a trembling voice. We talked for about a half and hour and when I hung up, I had nicotine patches on the way, and a request for me to start removing triggers. I started with a big one for me. Smoking while driving.
OK, so now I’d decided to go on an unfamiliar journey. One filled with mystery but also one filled with life! I went to the quitline website and from there, I found a link to becomeanex.org. I came here and lurked for a while before I introduced myself. Of course, once I did introduce myself I discovered how wonderful and caring the support could be.
Fast forward to about three months later, the day I actually put out my last cigarette. (If you’re curious what I went through up to that point, it’s in the first posts of my blog.) I’d studied, learned my addiction and worked on most of my triggers. I decided that on the evening of Feb. 20, 2011 that I would smoke my last cigarette.
That evening, I went out on the porch and looked up at the fourteeners that I live at the base of, a beautiful mountain, and I lit that last cigarette. I never even finished it. I put it out, went into my house and began a journey for life. For my future.
Was I scared? Sure I was. The unknown is always scary. But at the same time, after all those months of preparation, I was confident. I was as ready as I could be. My mantra became that “what I do today will determine what my future will look like tomorrow”.
And of course there was the mountain. My vision of the journey. I saw myself at the trailhead, looking up the slopes and seeing how far I was from the summit. But I wanted that summit so badly. The symbol of my freedom.
When I put out that cigarette, I took the first cautious step onto the slopes of Mt. Freedom. As my journey continued to progress, I saw myself climbing that mountain, past the snowfields and through the boulder fields , always careful to not lose my footing for to slip would mean that I’d have to start over from somewhere down below on this mountain.
And as the endlessly arguing voices filled my head, I named those voices the addict within so that I could put a name to this strange argument going on inside of me, and somehow this helped. Somehow, visualizing my journey with the symbol of Mt. Freedom helped.
For me, I think it helped because when I visualize things, especially positive things it helps me to bring the mind, body and soul together for a single task and when one can do that then they become unstoppable!
Soon I was high up on the slopes of Mt. Freedom and I saw something their. A banner blowing in the wind, beckoning for me. I longed to reach that banner and before long as the addiction calmed within me, I did reach it.
It was the banner of Freedom and I grabbed it and waved it high over my head for you see, there were still so many others on the slopes, looking up and longing to be free. I saw myself gesturing to them, encouraging them to continue the journey so that they too could wave that banner proudly.
And now, five years later today I live in a land of freedom. A place of peace both with myself and with my body. A place that is free of the shackles of addiction. And it’s been the best five years of my life! The freedom feels every bit as good as I was told it would feel. Seeing life, and I mean really seeing life with the mask of addiction lifted makes the world so beautiful, because now I actually look at the world and not at when I can have my next cigarette.
Now I can see what freedom looks like. I can feel what freedom feels like. I can smell the sweet fragrance that’s all around in nature. But mostly I can smile for you see, though the journey was hard. Though it was confusing at times. In the end I did finish that journey. I did find out how wonderful it is on the other side of addiction.
And it all started with that first faltering step seemingly so long ago . . . .
Soon that will be you if you can just take that first faltering step to begin a journey of life. Go for it! There’s so much waiting for you on the other side of addiction. Remember the mantra that what you do today will determine what your future will be. Every choice you make today is a chance to change your future.
I hope I see you at the top of your own Mt. Freedom. It’s just an amazing place to be!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Good morning EXer's!!
I wanted to share a story with you. It’s a story of fear but also one of triumph and the human spirit. Please bear with me, as I wanted to include as much as I could in this one life experience that I have recently faced.
It started with what I assumed was a small cold. So many things were going on in my life at the time that this cold began. My wife and I were preparing our home to care for someone who was about to join hospice, as we agreed to help him and give him the best quality of life for the end of his life.
I live in a high mountain valley and the guy, who I’ll call Don from here on out was originally flown to Denver in a flight for life, before anyone realized how bad he really was. Well, to make a long story short, it wasn’t long before we had to go to Denver ourselves to get the paperwork going and get him back up here to Buena Vista.
We converted our living room to a basic hospital room with the help of hospice and eventually got him here. During this time, this nagging cold that I had continued to worsen, but only in the lungs.
Soon I found that I could hardly breathe! At last I realized that this wasn’t going away without some kind of help so the next morning, my wife and I got up, determined to get me to the hospital. But there was a problem. We had to do intake paperwork for hospice before we could leave.
As we continued onward, I found that I could barely catch a breath. The hospice nurse checked my oxygen level and found that it was at about 85%. We rushed through the paperwork and when we were finished, we began the half hour trip to the hospital.
As luck would have it, on the way we ran into road construction and a one lane road. My wife got out and told the flagger that I couldn’t breathe and he actually waved us through. By the time I got to the hospital, I couldn’t even get enough breath to say my name. It really is horrifying to be in a world full of air and still be suffocating like a fish out of water.
They got me in and used the standard nebulizer technique to get me breathing again. After several tests, more of the nebulizer and a shot of steroids, I was released and feeling better with a script for antibiotics which I started the next day.
I made a doctor appointment a week later and during the wait, my breathing worsened again to the point that by the time my appointment day came up, I couldn’t even make it to the desk to check in, and that was with oxygen!
They checked me out, asked a few questions and sent me home with a prescription for five days of oral steroids. I remember thinking that if that didn’t work, that I didn’t think I could make it through the night alive.
One thing that helped and maybe even saved my life was a breathing technique that I had previously found on Thomas’s page where one pursed the lips while breathing. I used that technique a lot during those scary days. Thank you Thomas for that simple life saving technique!
The steroids worked overnight, making me feel much better by the next morning. I finished the prescription and saw the doctor in a week, feeling pretty good. We set up breathing tests in a month in order to try to make an official diagnosis of COPD.
Over the weekend, my condition worsened and by Monday, I could barely breathe again. I called and got another prescription for steroids to get through to my next doctor’s appointment. So this story is still ongoing.
One might wonder what I was thinking during this process. Was I angry? Sad? Depressed? Scared?
At first I was really scared! But after that, when I had time to reflect, the first thought that entered my mind was that If I hadn’t quit smoking almost five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have survived this event, and wouldn’t be writing this right now.
I realized that the temporary discomfort that I’d gone through in the past when I quit actually saved my life! And the fact that I’d already done the most important thing I could ever do to help my current situation gave me a sense of pride.
Sure, I’d messed up in the past with all of those endless cigarettes I smoked. Sure, I lived the lie of addiction that so many of us have, and so many still do. But I climbed out of that world and entered a world of freedom that was so wonderful!
I’ve been given five wonderful years with no real problems just because I took that one step so long ago. Sure, it was hard but it was so worth it! And not just because of how it helped me now, but because of that freedom that’s just waiting for us! All we have to do is desire it enough and then take it. All we have to do is long for that moment when nothing can stop our desire to be free!
Take that step my friends. Don’t worry about what this person or that person is doing. Just take that step for yourself. You’re the only one that can truly make the decision and the only one that can stop yourself!
Take that dream and turn it into a reality and I guarantee that you will never ever regret it!
I’ll see on the the 20th when I return to share the five year anniversary with all of you wonderfully committed people!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
And so we’ve found ourselves in the middle of September! The fall always reminds me of the cycles of life. It reminds me of how nature must tear down it’s beauty in the winter in order to create a more perfect being, whatever that being might be. It reminds me that no matter how a certain day might appear to us that so often the next day can be so much brighter!
When we quit smoking, we do a lot of what nature intended for us humans to do. We take what we’ve got and strive to make it better. The reality is that it’s human nature to seek harmony in our lives. To find the best means to a more perfect future.
At times it can seem like an impossible task but if we really stop to think about it, when we quit smoking we’re actually embarking on a path to a better future. We’re kind of tearing things down to make a more perfect self. We’re deciding that we want change so badly that we’ll do anything we can to achieve it! We’re even willing to overcome our own fear of change in order to embrace a new future!
And eventually we find a belief that we really can! That we’ve got what it takes to look ahead rather than dwell on our current discomforts. Sure. it’s hard. Change always is. But to see the glory on the other side of that change is such a powerful motivator.
All we have to do is remember what we want so badly. All we have to do is long for freedom and make that desire stronger than anything else in our lives. Stronger than the screaming child inside that longs to derail the quit.
It is indeed an unusual battle. One that very few have ever fought before for you see, this battle is personal. This battle is one that we must fight within ourselves. One that lives inside but the thing is, every reward that we long for lives inside of us as well.
It’s the dream of freedom. A dream of life. A dream of a future that might never be if we don’t make this commitment to ourselves. Go for it! Take that plunge and keep your eye on the prize of freedom and never forget that with freedom comes a kind of peace that hasn’t been felt for a long, long time.
A peace that comes with confidence and pride for though we got ourselves into this addictive mess, we can also get ourselves out of it!
Stay true to yourselves. Never for a moment think that you can’t do it. We’ve all been at the beginning of this journey at one time. We’ve all gone through what you are going through and in the end I think all of us who have found that freedom. All of us who have found that wonderful peace on the other side of addiction long to see others find the very thing that we found. It’s waiting for you after just a little time.
On step at a time my friends. One step at a time . . . . .
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Good morning EXer’s!
I hope all is well with you. Me? Still enjoying the future that I created for myself seemingly long ago. It’s wonderful to feel freedom. To feel peace. To understand that the endless nagging of our minds really does end. To know from experience that what I thought would be my future really is that!
It all started when I had a dream of freedom. A dream that quickly became a burning desire within me. Don’t get me wrong. It took some time to develop that desire to the point that there could be no other answer. That’s why preparation is so key to quitting. But over the course of a couple of months after I’d really decided to quit, the desire to be free became stronger and stronger within my being until the day that I put out that last cigarette.
Of course like you, my first days of freedom didn’t seem like freedom at all. It seemed more like a roller coaster of emotions and endless conflicting thoughts. Like you, I found confusion at first but I never lost sight of my quest for freedom because I ended up caring more about my future than I did about the strange world I was now in.
It really is hard at first. I know and so do so many others who found their way to the other end of this mess that we got ourselves into. We became enslaved by false signals sent to our brains. Signals of pleasure. Signals of false peace. Signals that are quite real and yet totally wrong!
No wonder we’re confused at first. But in the end, I found a way to embrace the freedom that I so desperately wanted. We can embrace a future where we might have a chance to live it with a bit more quality of life. Was I worried that I’d already done damage to myself? Of course I was! But that didn’t matter. What mattered most was that I didn’t do any more damage to myself.
In the end, it was the happiest decision I ever made. And I do mean happiest for you see that’s what’s waiting for you in your future. A feeling of accomplishment like no other, and the peace! It’s amazing after that crazy voice inside of our heads shuts up. And it does shut up! It does learn that we don’t smoke anymore. That endless argument does end!
Slam that door on your addiction. Look to the door that you want to open. There’s a light coming through the crack under that door. It’s the light of freedom. The moment we put out that last cigarette, the crack appears. We need to look to the door of freedom and not that wall of addiction that we’ve stared at for far to long.
We’re better than that! I think we all come here to beat a monster of an addiction because we love life. Because we found a way through the lies of this addiction and decided that we wanted to be free!
The decisions we make today will determine the future that we live tomorrow. Embrace your decision to quit. Keep looking ahead to the freedom you’re creating right now and before long, you’ll be on the other side of this addiction and I have to tell you, the peace in the end is amazing!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
You know, there was once a time when I thought very little about freedom. I was very confident in my smoking world, gliding through life with a belief that smoking only harms other people. Comfortable in the fact that I could live out my days with those smokes firmly embedded in my world forever.
Yeah, I was a piece of work back then, not even thinking about my future or what I was doing to perhaps make it better. I think for me the idea of quitting started as a tiny crack in my addiction. A day where somehow, I’d let the thought of quitting sneak through my armor of confidence and my belief that I was invincible.
And somehow, that tiny little crack grew and I started wondering just how invincible I really was. I started thinking about my father who had died from complications of throat cancer and that brought an incredibly enlightening memory to me that I’d comfortably hidden from myself for many, many years.
When I was in the hospital with my father after his operation, sucking the infection out of his neck wound so that he could breathe, the surgeon that did his surgery showed up to check him out. He taught me how to do deep suctioning by placing a tube through his nose to reach his lungs, and then suck out the infection. It was a horrible procedure that once again was necessary in order for my father to breathe during his recovery.
The surgeon was on his way out the door when he turned suddenly and poking rather vehemently at my shirt pocket where my cigarettes were he shouted, “Are you insane? Don’t you realize that those things in your pocket are what did this to your father?!”
Shaking his head in disbelief, he walked out the door but before he left he turned and said a little more calmly, “I understand that you’re hooked. Hell, most of my patients continue smoking through their trachs. I just get upset every time I see someone intentionally killing themselves. I love life. Don’t you?” And with that he left, still shaking his head in disbelief.
A little later the nurse came in to do her work and I was out of there! That guy had really upset my little world but you know what? I went and smoked a cigarette and rebuilt my armor, still somehow believing that I was invincible. This went on for several more years before that day where the crack appeared.
That crack became what is now my forever quit. It has to start somewhere. We have to be honest to ourselves and find a way to long for freedom. It took me a long time in preparation and a long time after to pull all of the tentacles of my addiction out of myself.
Now I find freedom to be my banner! I find health to be my calling. And while I’m at it, I now understand that I’m really not invincible. I understand that things can happen. But I also understand that every day I spent fighting my addiction was a day where I was fighting for my very life!
I’m on the other side of that crazy ride now and you know what? It feels incredible! Stay on the path my friends. Never let doubts weaken your resolve. Keep your eye on the prize of freedom and one day you’ll be feeling something so very amazing. You’ll be feeling a freedom like you never thought you’d feel! The rewards are numerous and so amazing! You just have to get through this little rough patch.
I know that if I could find a way through my addiction that you can too!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Ever wake up in the morning and think, “What the hell did I just choose to do?” That was my first thought on day one of my quit. When I went to bed the night before I was actually excited about the fact that after all of my preparations, I was ready!
But I have to admit, “What the hell did you just choose to do” was my first thought. The thing is, I don’t really work that way. You see, I’ve always believed that our thinking doesn’t have to be static and that the first thought of the day doesn’t have to determine the nature of the entire day.
So I got up, slapped on the old nicotine patch of courage and told myself that today was the first day of an incredible journey! Or so I hoped. I knew the reality of it all told me that this was the first day of training for my new life. Something important. Something that might transform my future! So yeah. There was fear and excitement at the same time.
I drank my coffee, wondering the entire time if this was a trigger that I had missed. I wandered outside, where I’d always have my morning cigarette. I looked around and realized that the world hadn’t really changed.
At that moment I understood that what had really changed was me. I no longer smoked! Hey now, wait a minute. This isn’t me. And yet it was. And so the internal argument began. How do we cope without the cigarette? How can we possibly live the day? So much confusion on that first day but also the glimmer of hope.
A glimmer of a future of life. A glimmer of what the world can be like if we can just get past this first day because if we can do that, we can start counting. We can start believing that maybe we can do this. That we really can quit!
But that’s just the first day. There’s always a lot of doubt within us on that first day but you know what? The next day gives us something to build on. The next day makes us realize that sure, we’ve got a long ways to go but look at what we’d already done! We’ve lived a single day without a cigarette and from this day we can build a new world, so long as there’s no doubt in our belief that life is really wonderful! So long as we want to be free once and for all!
My second day was similar in that my first waking thoughts weren’t the best. I kind of dragged myself out of bed and got my coffee, and then headed to the computer. During the time that I went through that first urge, I began telling myself that I was already well on my way and that a new beginning has to start somewhere, so how about another smoke free day?
I began to understand that my mind was divided. That there was this endless argument going on inside just under the surface. I knew that if anything could derail my quit, it would be this voice. So I listened, and none of it made any sense. It was like a continuous urge even though I knew better.
I realized that I was giving my addiction strength by thinking to much about the urges. This was making the individual urges seem like one long, constant urge. This was when I first conceived of the addict within. I put a face to the endless argument so that I could try to control it and for me, seeing my addiction as a screaming child throwing a temper tantrum seemed to help because after all, what do we do with a screaming child? We first try to rationalize but in the end we sometimes have to ignore them until they calm themselves down.
To make a long story short, after that day I talked a lot to the addict within. I treated it all with the patience of an adult training a child and before long that child grew up and I found the peace that I was looking for. I found a freedom that was incredible!
It’s all waiting there for you. All you have to do is get through those first hard days because then it’s a matter of getting through the first month and year. And each day that we train our screaming child is a day of achievement. And each day of achievement soon becomes a lifetime of achievement. Hang in there my friends! There;s so much waiting for you on the other side of this little rough patch , , , ,
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
I always like to look back into the days of my quit. I mean the days right after I got over my irrational fear of quitting and put out that last cigarette. Was I confident? You bet. Was I a little scared? Yeah, I was that too. But in spite of that, like so many of you here are now doing, I followed through with a long developed plan and put out that cigarette for good.
Like you, I had those first hard days. Days when my brain divided and the internal argument caused by addiction began. But at the same time, I embraced each day proud that I was a nonsmoker.
As most of us do, in the morning I’d assess things. And sometimes I’d wake up craving a cigarette. For a moment, I’d sometimes wonder why I’d quit in the first place. And other times I’d wonder why I didn’t buy the old pack to keep around “just in case”. But for me, these thoughts were very short lived.
As I got out of bed, I’d pull out my visions of the addict within and Mt. Freedom and I’d focus on these things until my mindset became one that was once again on an amazing journey. By the time I logged onto EX, which I did daily, I’d be in a pretty good mood, In fact, by the time I got here, I’d be celebrating both my past days of freedom and the new one that I was about to face.
By looking to the future, where my freedom was, I quit fretting over the present, even as I continued fighting the endless argument inside. I found a kind of solace in knowing that one day my vision would be a reality. That one day, the endless argument with myself would be over. That one day I’d actually forget that I ever liked smoking.
And yes, when I came here, I’d celebrate with others the one thing that this place cares most about. That I was still free!!
I was able to celebrate my journey even as I fought with myself by seeing myself climbing that mountain. By knowing that in a way, the mountain really is real because it was a means for me to see not just the current part of the journey, but the entire journey. How far I’d come. How much closer the end was and this always brought a smile to my face.
Everyone has a Mt, Freedom inside. It’s whatever we can use in our minds eye to symbolize our determination. To show us our goal. To think of the end result until one day it’s no longer the end result but rather our current reality.
Fight on my friends, and never think that you can’t be standing on the summit of your mountain. So many have already made the climb. So many have found the peace that awaits them at the end of the journey. So many are feeling a freedom like they’ve never felt before and for every one of us, it all started with that first step. With a commitment to life and with a desire to be free!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Good morning EXer’s!!
I hope all is going well in your quits. I remember those first days well, and there’s a reason for this. By keeping those memories close to my heart, it reminds me of the lessons I learned. It reminds me that though that time doesn’t seem so bad right now, there once was a time that it was and remembering this keeps my resolve strong, and just in case a phantom urge tries to blindside me, I still remember all of the lessons that I had to learn along the way.
I remember when I first dreamed of the addict within. That screaming child that was my addiction. I remember putting a face on it so that I could see my war more clearly. So that I could understand my divided brain. So I could cope with the constant argument that ran through my head. The one where the rational side of my brain was in constant conflict with the other side. The one that doesn’t know right from wrong.
This was the addict within. That part of my brain that refused to believe that our quitting was the right thing to do, and like you I fought with this part of my brain constantly, trying to teach it that I knew the right path for us to take.
As many of you already know, I used a mountain to signify my journey. I called the mountain Mt. Freedom. This made it easier for me to see the journey as a whole. One that might be hard at first but one that also has an end. I think at times it’s hard for us to focus on the ending simply because we’re doing everything in our power to get through the current day, or week, or month.
I remember waking up each morning and in my minds eye, I’d look to the slopes of Mt. Freedom, confident that one day I’d stand on that summit. Remembering the goal of freedom is a good way to get the brain motivated to continue winning the internal argument every day.
But I also remember that each step up that mountain became easier. Each lesson I learned along the way helped me to cope with the next one. With each agonizing step up the mountain, I felt a little more confident. A little stronger. And each step gave me a stronger belief that one day I would stand on that summit.
As I got closer, I could see the banner of freedom waving in the wind and all I wanted was to reach that magical place of freedom and peace that I knew was at the top. I wanted that prize of freedom more than anything! I wanted to be free so badly that I forgot that there was any internal argument or any discomfort and in the end, I did stand on that summit!
I stood on that summit and waved that banner high over my head for I could see others still climbing. Some so far down the slopes and other so close and I wanted them to see the prize. To see what was awaiting them! I shouted and threw down ropes for those who might need just a little help.
I still live on the summit of Mt. Freedom and it is everything that I dreamed it would be. The freedom is amazing but what surprised me even more was the peace that I felt. The peace that I feel right now. It’s waiting for you! All you have to do is plant one foot in front of the other and never waver. Never doubt that what you’re doing is the right thing to be doing.
Building a future of peace. Building a new life of freedom. What could be more special than that? So keep on climbing, my friends. Keep your eye on that banner of freedom and before long, you’ll be on the top and believe me, it’s a wonderful place to be!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!
Today I woke up and for some reason I started thinking about addiction. I realized that in the first preperations of my quit that I didn’t think of it as an addiciton but more of a habit. This in a way added power to the addiciton itself because I think most of us percieve a habit as something relatively easy to change.
This can be a common mistake when we prepare to quit and I think that by realizing that what we’re doing is beating an addiction, we add strength to the quit itself. By admitting to ourselves that we are indeed addicts, it changes our mindset and I believe improves our ability to succeed.
We expect to have to fight more because we’re not just changing a habit but rather beating an addiction.
But take heart! Once we can stare our addiction in the face, it helps us to understand what is happening to us when we quit. It helps us to understand that yes, our addiction has clouded our thinking. The addiciton has created a means in our minds that makes us see things differently.
I’ve always visualized my addiction as an entity that lives inside of me. One that really doesn’t care much about health, the future or the quality of life that we might experience in that future. An entity that begins throwing a temper tantrum the moment we ignore it’s signals. An entity that has had it’s way for so long, it can’t understand any other way to live.
The addict within to me is a screaming child. But it’s also one that can be trained. One that can learn from the new information we give it. It does take time but eventually with each day that we remian free, we begin to rip out the tentacles that the addict within has placed within us over all of this time.
After a while, it becomes easy to see through the mask of addiction. We can find ourselves thinking about life and freedom more than we do our current discomforts. We can slowly remove the mask and calm the screaming child that would do us harm.
Eventually we find that we can rip that mask right off and see the world as it really is. A wonderful place of peace and freedom where we can hold our heads high and be proud of what we’ve done, not only for ourselves but also for those who we love.
And to think. It all starts with that first day that we no longer think about quitting but instead put out that last cigarette and turn our vision into a reality. The day that we decide to thumb our noses at that screaming child within. The day that we decide once and for all that we will have a new and wonderful life and that nothing is going to stop us!!!
There is peace awaiting you and there’s a feeling of freedom like you haven’t felt for a long, long time. I know. I’m living the results of that decision I made over four years ago and you know what? I have an agreement with what was once the screaming addict within. I’ve taught that part of me to love life over death and to cherish freedom above all else.
I remember what it took to get here simnply because I never want to go back to that place of slavery and deceit. Once you experience the freedom that’s coming your way, I can guarantee that you’ll never want to go back either. I look forward to that day where you too will feel that wonderful peace . . .