It begins with the knowledge that smoking hurts us. Whether we are presently experiencing the negative affects resultant from the addiction or not, we have learned that it is a killer. And we know we need to stop. Because we have been bombarded with that knowledge and information for years.
The little voice inside (that better part of ourselves), and the voices of those who love us, keep niggling until eventually they start to interfere with our enjoyment of the drug. And the voices persist until we finally do something about it. We begin to think more and more about quitting. And become more and more disgusted with our inability to manage our addiction. We realize that it controls us. And we’re tired of being a victim. So we give quitting a go.
For many of us it takes several trial runs. We might last a day, a couple of days, even several months or a year. But then we allow ourselves to become victims again. And speaking for myself, when I relapsed I relapsed for a LONG period of time. Years.
But that little niggling voice, the best voice, just won’t give up. And so we begin again.
This was my last journey and I wanted to tell you how it went for me in the hopes it might help yours knowing what to expect.
I had prepared well, this time. Spent a month reading and getting my head in gear. I discovered a support group. That made a LOT of difference. I set a quit date, smoked up every last one in my pack and got rid of all the ashtrays, lighters, checked through all pockets, etc the night before. And awakened the next morning knowing what I’d be in store for and willing to accept it. Absolutely willing to accep whatever came down the pike. I knew that where I put my head would go a long way to easing the cravings. And it did. The first three days were a breeze. Day 4 I thought I’d lose my mind. But I accepted it.
I stopped drinking coffee because I knew it was a trigger. I did the deep breathing, I sucked on sports bottles filled with water, I “pretend smoked” straws, I blogged and offered support on blogs. I had so much craving energy I thought I’d burst at the seams. My gut hurt from the “wanting.” I took that energy and used it in creative writing and put on my sense of humor drawers. I personified the cravings, turned them into little nasty creatures and I’d yell at them to GO AWAY!!!! I drew what a craving looked like (even though I don’t draw). I danced fast and furiously and exercised and grit my teeth. And breathed and sucked on the water bottle.
And the cravings continued. And I copied those blogs that spoke best to my brain and spurred me on, gave me hope and courage, and put them in a journal so that I could easily find them. And I read them again. And I continued to blog and offer support. And I was so very tired from fighting all the time. And I wondered how long it would take to get over them. But I accepted it. I just kept on the path and continued to practice the NOPE Doctrine, and...
.... the cravings lessened. Just a bit. I didn’t need to “pretend smoke” the straws as often. I went back to my morning coffee. I’d still take those slow deep breaths, but with less frequency. Same with the water bottle sucking. And my mind became less filled with smoking thoughts. I could get through a couple of hours of blissful forgetfulness. And then something would trigger the thought and I’d breathe slow and deep and it wouldn’t last as long. And I was becoming pretty good at changing my focus.
I don’t remember how long it was in the journey before I awakened without a cigarette thought first thing. But my that was a nice morning! I do remember the day I went to town not having given them a thought and then getting out of the car and seeing a discarded empty pack on the ground. And BANG, here they came again, those smokey craving thoughts. I was FURIOUS!!! But I accepted it. And I moved on. And they went away.
I continued to read and blog and support and the cravings calmed down, became less and less frequent and less intense. And I became more and more adept at moving through them and over them, around them, under them. And I was feeling pretty good. I’d get through entire days without giving cigarettes a thought. My quit clock was happily ticking away and I kept celebrating one anniversary after another, the first week, the first month, couple of months...and...
... a craving hit me out of the blue. Staggered me because I had gotten so far away from them I’d forgotten how intense they could be. Just grabbed me by the gut and squeezed my “I WANT” pouch. But I knew, from experience, what to do. I went back to my first day technique. I took deep breaths, I sucked on water, I didn’t have a straw handy but I held my two fingers up to my lips like there was a cigarette in them and I “pretend smoked.” I pulled out those blogs that spoke to me and re-read them. And I blogged and supported and read. And read some more. And I accepted this day’s journey. And the craving went away. They always go away. I had learned that by this time.
It has now been over 7 years since I quit. And yes, sometimes even now I’ll be hit with a craving out of the blue that’s a doozie. But I know what to do and I know it will pass, and I accept it as “that’s just what’s so.”
Time is really what cures cravings. Smoke-free time. You will only get to freedom if you hang in long enough. You have to go through the stages. Well, unless you’re Allen Carr, and can instantly transform your thoughts. But that too is a process, and takes time. Think of it this way: you’ve smashed your finger in a car door and it hurts like hell for a couple of days. Then the nail turns black. Hurts a bit less, except when you accidentally use it without care. Then it turns yellow. Then it slowly falls off or grows out and you’ve got a brand new nail. The new nail doesn’t appear overnight. It takes time to go through the healing process, the steps, the stages of re-growth. But if you pick at it, it will either never heal or take that much longer.
Cravings are like that. If you pick at them by letting your thoughts dwell upon smoking, it will take that much longer to get over them. Re-focus. If you pick at them by smoking a puff here or there, you’ll never get over them. Practice NOPE. You must trust that there will come a day when cravings cease (except maybe for those once-in-a-blue-moon sparklers of a craving that flash brightly but burn out quickly) and you must accept the journey in all it’s aspects. Remember, after all, you chose it. So embrace it. The view gets better and better as you move on down the track. That’s a promise. There would be no long-term quitters if cravings lasted forever. And DON’T PICK!