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All People > Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 > Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 Blog > 2011 > September

Well, I really have been enjoying this new smoke free life of mine. It just makes almost everything feel new to me. The freedom is new. The extra time I have is new. The smells, the breaths and so much more! These are some of the benefits that await you when you quit. These are good reasons to quit and I haven’t even mentioned health and quality of life!


There’s just something special about taking back our lives from an evil enemy that just doesn’t seem to see reality. There’s something about kicking that enemy to the curb that just fills one with the wonders of life! Perhaps it’s because when we quit, we have the time to see that wonderful world that’s out there. Because we’re doing a positive thing it in turn brings the positive into focus. It helps us to find a peace that we might never have found were it not for our belief in ourselves and our love of life that is found when we lose an addiction.


So yes, there are so many wonderful things that happen to us when we quit and the cool thing is that these things reside in our hearts and in our souls. It’s the little things that we can’t see and yet feel that brings us to the land of freedom.


I gotta tell ya, in the last couple of weeks I have managed to do the one thing I hadn’t done since I quit, mainly because it was something that always had cigarettes strongly involved in it. And that is writing! I forgot how fun it is to write a story and create the characters that soon will be brought to life on the written page. And I found that I’m ten times more productive with this little hobby of mine, simply because the cigarettes are no longer associated with what I’m doing. This gives me a freedom like I’ve never had before. I have more time and I can now concentrate fully without the evil weed interfering with all that I do.


So never, ever think that what your doing isn’t worth it! Never believe for even a second that life will not change for the good. Our addictions will try to tell us that all this trouble involved with quitting just isn’t worth the time. Our addictions will tell us that life simply can’t be good without those cigarettes. Our addictions will tell us that we’re never going to make it to the freedom that we desire to feel so badly.


But these are false statements that come from our addicted minds. These are the thoughts that could end our resolve if we listen to them. These are the thoughts that we don’t need as we scratch and fight our way to freedom. After all, it’s our future that’s important. It’s our future that we’re changing. And I’m right here along with so many others to tell you that first of all, the journey really does get easier by degrees. The journey does find a kind of ending down the road.


The journey’s end is something that lives within our minds. It’s something that comes when we really reach that acceptance that we don’t smoke anymore. It comes when we can at last step back and look at the whole picture that is ourselves and smile because we know that although it seems like the world has changed the reality is that it is us that has changed. It’s us who never gave in and can now win the rewards of life that comes with the end of this journey.


So keep you chin up, attack Mt. Freedom like it’s the climb of your life for the reality is that it really is. Take each little set back and each rough hurdle as a thing of strength for every time you overcome yet another hurdle. Every time you live through yet another unexpected craving. Every time you spend another week getting ever closer to attaining your goal, you are one step closer to freedom. And with every step that you take in the direction of that freedom you are one step closer to a life that is just beautiful.


So make this fight the fight of your life. Look to the summit of Mt. Freedom which is the goal that you so badly want. Look closely and you’ll see the banner of freedom waiting for you at the top. Waiting for you to waive it proudly for all to see. And when you can at last look down the slopes. When you can look back at all that you’ve accomplished then this is the day that you can smile to yourself. This is the day that you will know in your very heart and soul that this was a climb that was worth it. This was a climb into your destiny! This was a climb like no other because this was a climb to freedom!

Well, I finally made another hundred days smoke free. I remember when I was celebrating the first week smoke free. Each milestone in our quit is important and should be recognized I think. This is because it helps us to stay strong until we reach the next milestone.


I know when we first quit that we want the time to pass. This is because the only way to lose our addiction is with the passage of time. This is why it’s so important to track our milestones. It shows us how far we’ve come and how easy it will be to continue on the path.


The only thing we have to be careful of as time passes is those phantom cravings that can pop up at just about any time in our quits. Over time we can put the addiction in the background but we must always be wary for it is the weak moments when the addiction will try to take control again.


And one thing I know for sure is what I always said. Those first hard days over time become nothing but a memory. Those days where we build our commitment are indeed important because each step in our journey gives us more to build on. Each step is a continuation of the last and each step brings us closer to that goal of freedom.


So never think you can’t do this thing. It’s really just a matter of keeping it in the forefront of your mind at first and then learning how to push it back in our thoughts as we become more confident in our quits. Soon you like me will see the humor when the cravings hit you.


The last ones I had bothered me for a moment and then I thought, "Oh well, they only last for a few minutes." And then they came again and again and I thought to myself as I laughed, "Chuck! You know you don’t smoke. Now stop being so silly and get back to your life!" At which point I did start laughing at myself. I did realize how silly I was being because I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to smoke.


I knew in my soul that this wasn’t me anymore and so I guess I just found it to be funny that I was trying to attack myself. And the moment the laughter came, the urges were gone simply because it’s really hard to care about an urge when your laughing.


So go for it! Fight your way through those first hard days. See them for what they are. The foundation of a quit. The foundation that will hold you up for the rest of your life. The foundation that will carry you through the next month, the next year and beyond!


Remember that with each passing day your quit will become stronger. Your belief in yourself and the fact that you don’t smoke will be stronger. And remember, each time you get an urge and overcome it brings you closer to your freedom!


So try not to look at the discomfort of your quit. Instead look at the reality of what your doing for what your doing is a very noble thing indeed. Your ripping out the tentacles of an addiction. Your proving to yourself every day that you want to live a future that’s just a little brighter then it might have been without completing this monumental task.


Sure it’s hard but it’s worth it. Freedom is always worth the struggle, don’t you think? So cast off your doubts and fly into your future! It belongs to you and the ones you love. It belongs to all who see you win your battle with yourself.


It belongs to all of us here for you see, your success is a success for everyone. That’s why we do this together. Because we care and we know exactly what your going through because we’ve been there! We’ve felt the very things that your feeling right now.


And as I’ve always said and can now prove through my own struggle, those hard days really do become nothing but a memory . . .

I remember that first day when I actually quit. I knew that this was it. The culmination of all of my preparations. The day that I would at last reach for my freedom. There was a bit of excitement flowing within me on that day as well as apprehension. I was very confident in my ability to do this and yet wondered if I indeed had it in me to shake off my addiction and start a new smoke free life. After all, I was losing a friend.


Of course this was the friend that was trying to kill me so I didn’t mind leaving him behind to much. On that first day, I looked to the slopes of Mt. Freedom. The summit looked impossibly far away to me. I could see the tree line end and could make out the snow fields that I would have to cross as I climbed. I knew that this was going to be a journey so I created this visualization for myself and it served me well.


I knew that one day I would reach the summit and wave the banner of freedom so that all who might be following behind me might see it in the hopes that it would propel them onward to the freedom that lies at the end of the journey. I fixed ropes to try to make the climb easier or at least not so unfamiliar to those who followed.


And I began my journey, one foot in front of the other. I found that it was O.K. to look back because I could see how far I’d come but really I knew that my journey lied in the future. I realized that there was a prize in that future. One that was worth every bit of discomfort that I felt now for you see, freedom never comes without a price. Freedom never comes without a bit of effort and freedom is indeed a worthy goal to seek.


And so I trudged on, wondering why the journey had to be so hard. This is of course the time that we come to the realization that we are addicts. Accepting that fact really does make the journey so much easier or at least makes it a little easier to understand.


I remember my creation of the addict within. This came from my thoughts about my divided brain. I realized that there was an internal conflict within me that made no sense and I realized that I was indeed fighting a battle with myself. I realized that the addict within was indeed a part of my brain that didn’t know right from wrong. It was a part of my brain that only understood stimulus such as sight, sound, touch and of course the jolt of nicotine. I realized that I was indeed waging a war with myself and that these two parts of my brain will have to find a kind of peace with each other before I could find my own peace.


And so in a way I befriended the addict within. I kept him close so I knew what he was up to. I studied him so I could more easily fight him and in the end I did find that peace. I did find that freedom. Really, it was there all along. It began the moment I put out that first cigarette. I just couldn’t quite see it yet because my mind was still clouded with the loss of my addiction. My mind was still feeling a hole inside that needed to be filled.


This is why I always looked to the future in the belief that this hole will indeed be filled. The feeling of loss would indeed vanish simply because this was a natural part of losing the addiction. But first I had to see through the sweet lies of the addict within. I had to see the reality instead of the rosy picture that the addict tried to create. I had to realize that cigarettes really don’t taste good even though the addict within would try to tell me different. I had to realize that the enjoyment that came from cigarettes was really a false enjoyment. That in reality it simply consumed a large part of my day without actually giving me any benefit in life.


And eventually I did see through the addiction. Eventually I did see the reality of my world and when that happened I really did feel a kind of peace that I always knew was there. And I did find a new and shiny world out there simply because I realized that when I quit, the world hadn’t changed. No, it was I that had changed. It was I that was seeing a new life ahead of me. It was I that lifted away the shroud that the addiction would place in front of my eyes.


So take heart my friends! No matter what stage you might be in with your quit, remember that the future holds your freedom. Forgive yourself your past and look instead to the future that you are creating right now. Remember that the discomforts you might be feeling now are simply the stepping stones to a bright future ahead.


It really is there! It really does exist! Just keep those feet planted firmly on the journey and never believe even for an instant that you cannot win. Never believe that your past life of smoking was something you miss. For the reality is there for the taking. The reality is something that feels so amazing and that reality is the reality of seeing past an addiction. It’s the reality of seeing life as it really is!! So go for it! Never look back and soon all the discomfort that your feeling right now will be nothing but a memory . . .

I hope everyone is doing well with their quits. I know I am! Still, a couple of days ago I had a couple of days where I felt some pretty stead y urges. Not really a big deal because the longer we go without nicotine, the easier it becomes to deal with those things. The important thing is that we’re aware of them when they appear.


After I acknowledged their presence, I simply moved on. Still I was surprised that they kept coming at me! After a while I thought to myself, "Oh, it’s you!" I realized that my old friend, the addict within was trying to throw a little temper tantrum. This little revelation actually made me laugh out loud at myself and the pesky little addict within who I knew would pop up from time to time.


I always knew that he was just sleeping. Well, he must have woke up for a moment and woke up cranky. The poor little part of my brain that has been beat down so many times by my commitment decided to give it another try. Of course to no avail. After all, I knew he would be back sooner or later.


And then that night I dreamed of smoking. I smoked a bunch of cigarettes in my dream. Every time I lit one I remembered that I had quit and I’d put it out only to find another one in my hand. Amazingly, I laughed at this in my dream just as I had laughed at the addict within when he made his appearance. I mean really, it is kind of funny when you think about it. I don’t smoke anymore and I know that. I know I’m still and always will be an addict but that doesn’t mean that I have to give my addiction any credit.


And so I woke the next day feeling fine just as I knew I would. How did I know that? Well, although the brain still sends and receives the signal to smoke, that’s as far as it goes. The action part of my addiction is no more. The impulse to reach for that cigarette is no longer there. Over time my addiction has changed and because of this there is really nothing that can derail my quit other then me being weak.


Thing is, I already know that those things will taste bad. I already know that they have the power to enslave me if I let them. I already know that the addiction will try time and time again to get me and I already know that this is laughable. It really is funny to me when I think about it. I mean really. I’ve already quit and it’s like some little cocoon trying to grow inside to become a full blown butterfly of addiction.


The addiction must be treated like a child I think. It must be listened to and it must be tamed before we can move on. I think this is exactly what happens in those first few months of our quits. We slowly tame the addiction and teach ourselves that we no longer listen to the temper tantrums of the addiction. We remain aware but we don’t actually give the child any more then we have to. It takes time to teach a stubborn child that is our addiction how to act and over time this is obviously achieved.


But when it appears again and tries to slam us with thoughts that we know we don’t think anymore it creates a situation that for some reason strikes a funny bone within me. It’s like a tickle in the mind and this in itself takes the wind out of the sails of my addiction.


Perhaps it’s because I know that these thoughts are irrational. Perhaps it’s because I realize that even though I possess these thoughts that I will not act on them. Perhaps it’s because the smoking thoughts actually feel alien to me now. I don’t know. I just know that it makes me laugh when these urges hit me.


So yes, I’ve now discovered a new phase in my quit. And to me this is something that so many can look forward to. The day that you can laugh at an addictive situation rather then dwell on it, thereby creating horrible days in the fight that we really don’t need. The day that we progress to the point that we no longer fear the urges but rather embrace them and understand them as a simple physical reaction caused by years of living with our addictions.


This is indeed another monumental step toward the freedom we desire. This is indeed proof that though the fight may not be quite over yet, there’s still a kind of calm in the acceptance of what we no longer do. So keep climbing my friends. Keep planting that foot firmly on the mountain and keep moving forward and upward.


Keep that summit in sight for it is where your freedom lies. The climb really isn’t so bad so long as we continue to understand that our commitment is real. The climb isn’t so bad so long as we reach out to one another and never believe that we will fail. And to reach that summit is so wonderful! It’s so exciting and it’s just so darn free!!

When we quit it seems like we find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster. We love the fact that we’re quitting and yet our minds are screaming at us! We find it to be so annoying that we often times think of giving in to our addiction. We begin to weigh the possibilities. We begin to think about smoking and at the same time we become angry with ourselves for those very thoughts.


This creates an inner turmoil that can at times become way to unpleasant. To me, this is where the dangerous thoughts come from. This is how our addictions begin their attack on the rational side of our brains. This is what causes us so much internal pain. And from the internal fight that we must face as we lose our addictions, we begin to believe the sweet lies of our addictions. We begin to wonder why we ever thought we could do this monumental task in the first place. We begin to lose our resolve.


Really, the best thing that one can do when we reach this point is to come here and ask for help. There are so many that are going through the same things and when we type out our blogs, even though we are writing about smoking, it occupies the mind enough to get through a particularly strong urge. This worked for me but then, I like to write!


And still there’s those days that we can’t be close to a computer. There’s those days where it seems like everyone around us is smoking. There are days when it feels like the whole world is ganging up against us and trying to make us smoke!


There are a few things to remember on days like this. The first is that the world hasn’t changed at all. The reality is that WE have changed and when this happens our perception of the world around us just looks different. It’s our own commitment that keeps us safe in this new world that we are learning.


Another thing to remember is that even though we feel this seemingly endless internal conflict within ourselves, what it shows is progress. As I’ve mentioned before there seem to be two sides of the brain at work when we quit. There’s the side that knows right from wrong. The side that made the decision to quit because it’s the right thing to do. Because this side of the brain can listen to the knowledge that we read and learn.


And then there’s the other side of the brain. This part of our minds doesn’t know right from wrong and does not react to input such as reading or learning. This part of the brain only understands the input from our senses. It reacts to the stimulus of nicotine and as such, it only understands that it needs this stimulus in order to feel normal. This is the part of the brain that seems to endlessly tell us to smoke.


For me, simply understanding these things helped me a lot. I called the divided brain the addict within. I assigned a name to this internal conflict that I felt in order to understand it. So that I could almost create a conversation with my addiction. This worked for me because I began to see the humor in my situation. I began to realize that my commitment to quit was stronger then what the "addict within" tried to tell me. This actually began to calm my mind.


But the main thing to remember on those hard days and nights is that what you are doing is indeed the right thing. Cigarettes really don’t taste all that good as your internal addict would try to tell you. You really didn’t enjoy the stimulus of nicotine all that much and you really didn’t lose a friend when you quit. What you lost was a wolf in sheep’s clothing so to speak. A friend would never try to kill you and a friend would never enslave you. Nor would a friend try to deceive you as the addict within tries to do.


So really, when it seems so ridiculously hard to keep that commitment, do as I’ve always said and look to the future. This is where your peace lies. This is where the reward is. All we have to do is not look for instant gratification and we will find peace. All we have to know is that we can live a few hard months in order to live the life of freedom that waits for us on the other side. If we stay focused on the present then we will feel the pain of our addictions but if we can instead keep our eyes on the prize then we will find a kind of peace that can only come from within. And this peace is way stronger then the addict within.


So all I can say is keep you chin up. Keep your eyes on the goal of freedom that lies ahead and never believe for even an instant that you can’t do this thing. Never believe that your fight is anything but the fight for your freedom and never, ever give the addict within the ability to change your thinking. After all, the addiction is only reacting to a physical stimulus that you no longer indulge in.


So go out there in that big bright world with your head held high for today you can say that "I don’t smoke! I am proving to myself with every moment that I keep my commitment that I care just a bit more about my life, health and freedom to worry about this silly side of my brain. The side that tries to torment me. The side that would see me in an early grave. Today I take my life back from myself and no one or no thing will ever take that away from me!"


Onward to freedom!!!