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The Craving Jabberwock

Posted by Giulia Champion Apr 28, 2013

Have you slain your Jabberwocky cravinigs today?  Keep your Quit swords honed and polished!




Lewis Carroll  (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.


"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

A fellow traveler who quit two months prior to me in 2006 relapsed in January of this year.  He told me only a couple of weeks ago.  The subject line on his email to me was “Starting Smoking Again and Want to Quit.”  I thought he was joking.  Until I opened the email.  
I was stunned.  Absolutely stunned.  This is a guy who is one of smartest people I’ve ever met.  Not only in intellectual acumen, but knows Himself and his mind well.  How could this person blow a quit?  He and I were on the same support site back then.  That’s how we got to know each other and have stayed in contact since.  We took the ride together.  We sat in the same saddle.  We cheered each other on.  And we both made it!  
He was a major part of inspiration and support in my quit.  And the fact that he just blew it was rather devastating.  ‘Cause if someone you admire, respect and look up to  blows it - what are you left with... but yourself?  Your own self-reliance.  You then have to become your own champion.  His relapse at once gave me sustenance and at the same time fear.  Sustenance in the sense of “maintaining something,” as a “source of strength.”  Made me more stubborn and more determined than ever to stay free.  But fear that I too then could relapse just as easily.  And that fear is a good thing, for it continues to teach me about my addictive behavior.  How quickly he resumed a pack-and-a-half-a-day habit.  That scared me and empowered me at the same time.
I don’t want to be like him.  I don’t want to be where he is, having to start all over again.  I wonder if it’s easier after only two months of a relapse after 7 years, or if it’s as awful as it was 7 years ago.  For his sake I hope it’s easier to get back on the horse.  But I don’t think it is.
His relapse points to the possibility of mine.  And oddly keeps me safe.   Because I don’t want another Day One.  I SO don’t want that, that I will never take another puff.  I’d like to.  I’d love to smoke.  That desire has not left me.  But what HAS left me for the moment is the NEED to smoke.  I don’t suffer because I’d like to smoke - I’m free of cravings because I’ve chosen not to smoke.    There’s a difference between needing and wanting.  When you’ve made a choice to quit, the wanting still remains in the background, but the need is no longer a part of the scenario. The desire to smoke has never left me.  But when I said to my neighbor the other day “When are you gonna quit those things?” and he immediately held his pack out to me and said with a big grin, “You want one?”  My wonderfully calm unthinking response was “I don’t need them any more.”   And I really don’t.
I keep trying to figure out why this friend relapsed and I didn’t.  I suspect there are many reasons, but one of them just might be that he didn’t stay plugged into a support site such as this.  (At least I don’t think he did.)  Whenever I see long-term relapsers I wonder if they did the same.  Didn’t keep up quit maintenance by staying connected to the reminders of their susceptibility.  Had they forgotten all about their vulnerability, their addictive natures, the fragility of their quits?  Did they take their quits for granted?   Or was it a major stressful moment that caused their relapse?
How you take someone’s relapse emotionally is your choice.  I have chosen to use it to empower me.  If you’re new at this, (a newbie) don’t let someone’s failure undermine your success and weaken you.   Learn from it.  Use it to strengthen your resolve.  And please, stay connected to a support site.  Every day in the beginning, but at least once a month when you think you’re long over it.  ‘Cause - you ain’t.

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