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2013

As always I hope this day finds you smoke free and loving life. Life. That’s what quitting smoking is really all about. Not only a longer life but a life with better health. And then there’s the pride that comes from beating an addiction. Proving to yourself that life is more important to you then a little discomfort right now.

Though this process is never easy, it can be an incredible learning experience because we have to look deep inside of ourselves in order to succeed in the battle for freedom. We have to understand why it’s so hard and we have to build a resolve that cannot be shaken. These are things that can be used for the rest of your life!

Part of the trick is getting through the first hard days. These are times when the withdrawals start to make us wonder what the heck we were thinking when we decided to quit. These are days when many of us question our own confused minds as we progress hour by hour through that first day. And then we wake on the second day and discover that yes, we’re still smoke free. That’s how it starts.

The path to freedom can seem endless at times as we struggle along. Since many of you don’t really know me or my quit, I wanted to talk about something that helped me along. I used visualization to help me cope with the journey.

I visualized a mountain that I named Mt. Freedom. This was of course a tall mountain because it had to be in order to signify the journey. I found myself at the base of this mountain, staring up the steep slopes and wondering what it would feel like when I reached the summit. I was certain of one thing. That I would reach that summit.

And so I started; putting one foot in front of the other as the first day of my quit arrived. As is always the case for me when climbing, the first steps were needed to acclimate me. To get used to the journey. The path has many twists and turns. There are boulder fields to navigate and many a slippery slopes to avoid. To slip would mean that I’d have to start over.

Often I would look down the slopes just to see how far I’ve come. But the main thing was that I always focused on the summit, where my freedom lied. As I got closer I could see the banner of freedom flowing in the wind. I knew I still had a ways to go but nothing was going to stop me from achieving that summit and grabbing hold of that banner of freedom! Through all the trials I kept climbing.

I had a companion with me as I climbed. This was the addict within. The source of my discomfort. The only part of my mind that could make me slip down the slope. I kept my addiction close for it’s always best to know what your enemy is up to. Sure, me and the addict within argued constantly. That’s just part of quitting. Holding that screaming addiction at bay until it shrinks to the tiniest element within the mind. Until it loses all power. Until it becomes a thing of the past.

It doesn’t really matter what scenario one uses. It doesn’t really matter how we see our journey to freedom. What does matter is that one day we stand on the other side of our addiction holding our heads up high for you see, we proved not only to ourselves but to those who love us that we cared more about life then we did a little discomfort right now. That we were willing to first create a path to freedom and then to follow that path to it’s beautiful completion.

I love my life now, free of the enslavement of nicotine. I find so much joy in this life without cigarettes. And the thing is, I’d have never known this life were it not for that first day when I first thought of quitting. Were it not for the fact that I took that thought and turned it into a reality. Were it not for the fact that I prepared my mind and body to win this battle.

Every bit of my journey was worth the effort. Even those first days when it seems so hard. When it seemed like I had so far to go. When I wondered if I could really do this.

So to all of you who might just be starting out I have to tell you that it begins with that first day, that first commitment to yourself. To the day that we create a new reality for ourselves. A reality that is filled with the love of life and freedom.

Take that first step my friends, for you cannot end a journey before you start it . . .

Chuck

Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011

The addict within

Posted by Chuck_Quit_2-20-2011 Feb 22, 2013

Good morning Exer’s!

I hope all is well with you in life and with your quit! When the idea of actually quitting pops into our heads, I think we all reject that thought at first. We look for reasons to continue smoking rather then look for reasons not to. This in itself should tell us a little about what will happen when we first quit. After all, our minds have been conditioned to smoke and we have convinced ourselves that we enjoy it even when this very thing makes no sense. Even when we realize that we’re committing a slow suicide, we can’t seem to shake the fact that we still think it’s O.K. to smoke.

This would be the deception that our minds try to believe even when that very belief is irrational. This is the face of addiction. This is what must be ripped from our minds in order to win. And part of the problem is those darned withdrawals! This adds fuel to an already confused mind. This is why those first hours and days are so crucial. Because we have to begin learning that we have been deceiving ourselves and we have to learn to take that deception and turn it into something more harmonious. And our minds just want to rebel at first. Our minds want to continue believing all the excuses that we used all those years to smoke.

There’s no way around those first hard days. I think during those first days that we concentrate simply on not smoking. This is really how it has to be and yet this is when many lose their resolve and then their quits. I remember my mind actually trying to rationalize smoking. Trying to look at what’s missing. Trying to find ways to say it was alright to smoke. And during this time it’s so easy to believe these deceptions simply because it’s easier to cave then it is to keep fighting. The brain is demanding all those dangerous chemicals because over the years it’s been trained to like them.

This is when we must use the rational part of our minds to fight off the irrational urges that an addicted mind creates. I think there’s a part of the mind that doesn’t really know right from wrong. And then there’s the part that does. The problem is that the part of the brain that sends us the signal to smoke is the part that reacts only to stimulus. That stimulus being nicotine of course. We have to teach that part of the mind that it’s perception is wrong and secondly we have to tell it that we can’t smoke anymore.

This set’s up an internal conflict that I always thought of as the addict within. I labeled this other part of my mind in order to clarify to myself that there really is an internal conflict when it comes to addiction. This allowed me to directly speak to that part of the brain that controlled my addiction and thereby created my discomfort. By visualizing another entity it clarified the internal conflict that was going on inside myself and then gave me something to directly say no to.

I can’t say that this works for everyone but it was something that helped me to understand my own conflict. To me, my quit became a battle between myself and this screaming child that was my actual addiction. And this visualization helped me to "teach" this child (or spoiled brat would be more like it!).

So really it doesn’t matter how a person goes about understanding addiction. What really matters is that you first understand that you are an addict and second that you intend to destroy your addiction.

The power to win is within all of us. All we have to do is have a burning desire to be free of the addict within. A desire to see life as one who is no longer enslaved. A desire to feel better both physically and mentally. A desire to see our loved ones grow old and to grow old with those who are closest to us. This is where it all starts. By resolving that internal conflict.

So though there may be a lot to do at first, but it’s time well spent because there can be nothing more beautiful then freedom!!

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!

Chuck

Good morning Exer’s!

Where do I start? Oh yeah! Tonight at 8:15P.M. I will have achieved two years without a cigarette. There was once a time when I wouldn’t have believed that I would see this day. I think that’s the case for a lot of us when we first start out with our quits. It’s the day to day experience of being smoke free that really builds our future of freedom. By staying true to ourselves and keeping our commitment strong we trudge along toward that life of freedom that we so long for. And take it from me as well as many others who have been where I’m at now, it’s well worth the fight.

For me it all began with a thought. A thought that admittedly scared the heck out of me. But a thought it remained for a long, long time. You probably know what I mean. After all, we all know that we shouldn’t smoke and we know why, and yet we keep on doing it. At least until the day that we turn that thought into a reality. The day that we overcome the fear of the unknown and actually quit.

For me there was a defining moment when I knew that my thoughts had become a reality and what did I feel? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of feeling uncomfortable and yes, fear of losing that old friend that had been hanging with me for most of my life. But there’s something funny about the face of addiction, (and I mean funny in a rhetorical way). To me, the face of addiction is like a mask that we hide behind. The addict that lives within us has a way of deceiving us and I think we let those deceptions happen because we’re afraid of life without cigarettes.

For me, the first thing I had to do was remove the mask of deception. And how does one go about that? By facing reality. By understanding the harm we’re doing to ourselves. By taking the time to first admit that we are addicts and then take that knowledge and use it to stare at the harsh reality that is our addiction. Cigarettes are not our friends. Would a friend rob us of life and health? Would a friend enslave us? Would a friend lie to us even as he was killing us? I think not!

As for fear of the unknown, I began researching all I could as my quit date approached. By the time my quit date had arrived, my fear of quitting had vanished. I simply put out that last cigarette and went to bed, secure in the fact that I would wake up a non-smoker. As for the discomfort, I used the nicotine patches to alleviate some of this. The thing I learned about the patches is that they don’t completely remove the cravings. They just take the edge off of them. This allowed me to learn when and how to deal with the cravings. I used the patches for six weeks as advised and quit using them on time, ensuring that I didn’t become addicted to the patches!

And so came that first week. Sure it was hard but nothing as bad as the addict within had tried to convince me that it would be. The first day became the stepping stone that I would use for the second. One day at a time I fought for my freedom until it became a week. And then it became a month and then a year, soon to become two years.

Do I miss smoking? Not at all. Do I still get a craving? Sometimes, but they just make me laugh because I no longer wear a mask of deception. I no longer see myself as a smoker. I breathe not only the clean mountain air but also breathe the air of freedom and believe me, that freedom tastes sweeter then anything I’ve ever tasted before because though I created my addiction, I also climbed out of it and once a person is enslaved, how could freedom taste like anything but success?

And so here I am, on the top of the mountain looking at all that I’ve accomplished in the past two years and one thing is certain. Every day I can wake up with a smile because the worst is now behind me. There is no longer the crushing weight of addiction to overcome. I’m living life and loving it free of the distractions that my addiction used to create.

I mention all of this in the hopes that someone might get something out of my past experience. I’ve found that often there is a glimmer of something that another can use in almost any blog.

So to all of you who are "thinking" about quitting I would have to say, "Don’t let that thought drift away. Instead, turn that thought into a reality. The best time to start is right now because you cannot build a different future if you do nothing to create it and there is no better future then the freedom that comes with beating an addiction."

To those who have just started I would have to say "Good for you! It may seem hard now but soon you’ll understand that it’s all worth it. That there is no nobler cause then to fight for your very life. There’s no better way to show those you love how much you love them then to extend your life by quitting in order to live a longer life with them.

"Never believe for even an instant that you cannot do this. It takes only a moment to give in to yourself so always watch for those moments of weakness that could derail your quit and soon you too will be on the other side of this moment in life and what your doing right now can do nothing but improve it."

To those who are free and yet still struggle I would say, "Remember no man’s land. The time when your over the worst and yet still vulnerable to yourself. We must be on guard until the day that we can truly laugh at our addictions."

To those old timers who were there for me in those first hard days I would say, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help. There is no greater element that can help us in our quits then the advice of those who have ‘been there’. Seeing your achievements makes others believe that they too can achieve what might otherwise seem impossible. Your selfless dedication to the lives of others has indeed saved lives and improved the lives of many. Your lessons have been learned and I return here so that you can see the fruits of your work. Another life saved."

And so I continue on to year three, always aware that there is an addict within but confident in the fact that I have indeed learned Dale’s lesson and that lesson is that once you can truly laugh at your addiction then that addiction loses it’s power. This is a truth that has been proven to me not only by him but by my own experience.

I have at last stood on the summit of Mt. Freedom, confident that though my addiction and myself must live together forever that I now have the upper hand for you see, I LOVE MY FREEDOM and would never do anything to lose that.

ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!