A very dear supportive 4 year quitter relapsed this past week. It rocked all of our quit worlds. From the newbie to the try-be, to the No Man’s Land gang to the old timers. Perhaps especially us old timers. Because it showed us we are not immune.
What can we take away from this that will benefit us? Well, for one - I noticed that there were more people who came to the Daily Pledge than usual. That’s a good thing. Daily reinforcement is a very simple but useful tool.
I’ve always been one to talk about the fragility of my quit. That I’ve never been one of those gleeful “I hate smoking” types. If I could smoke without penalty, I would. I enjoy the smell of a freshly lit cigarette and I expect I always will. But then I stopped saying it. Because I thought it would be of a more negative influence on the new quitter. I’m beginning to think now I should go back to my truth.
Seven years or so ago I created a group called Relapse Traps. I desperately wanted to understand the nature of a relapse. WHY it happen. Why would someone with years of smoke freedom behind them suddenly put a cigarette in their mouths. I didn’t want to be one of those. And I needed to find out how to protect myself by reading the stories of those who had relapsed and the wise responses by those who hadn’t. What could I learn that would protect me in all circumstances?
And I still don’t have the answer. I do know beyond a doubt that drinking is a major factor in relapse. I’ve seen it too many times. I know too that stress is a major factor in killing quits. I’ve seen THAT too many times. But although I know the causes, the effect, reasons for relapse - I don’t know what to do to prevent it. Because everything we have said on here doesn’t seem to protect anyone - ultimately. And that scares me.
We say don’t drink when you’re new in your quit. This person wasn’t new in their quit, they had four years behind them. The drink still got them. So are we then to say never drink again? No, of course not. We say come here and blog BEFORE you take that puff. Some, yes, will actually do that. But most people, when they’re ready to smoke, are going to smoke. And there’s not a DAMN THING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. When that lack of preservation perspective occurs, or that moment of insanity, or two-second choice to smoke takes place - no amount of study, knowledge, experience is going to change the outcome. The concept of NOPE has flown away and been forgotten or deliberately ignored.
So.... given that - all we can do is take responsibility to protect our own quits. No one else can save us and we can’t save anybody else.
But we sure as Hell are gonna keep trying.