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2015
  Our new member, Sprinkles, is living with a smoker.  There are a LOT of new members here and I'm sure some of them are also living with smokers.  It reminded me of this letter that can help our loved ones learn how to help us, whether or not they are smokers themselves.  So, here it is again.  I never remember the exact source because it's been reprinted so many times in so many places.  But it's a gem.  Use it.  It's one of those "tools" we are always promising you.  It WORKS.
   
   Dear______,
   I am about to try and change my life for the better. I am going to quit smoking. I just wanted to write this letter to you so you know what to expect for the next couple of weeks, since the process of withdrawal can be very challenging for me, and for those around me. (Most people do not realize it, but nicotine addiction is literally one of the hardest drugs to kick, even harder than heroin).
   
   Everyone reacts to the withdrawal symptoms differently, but in general, during the first two weeks (Hell Week and Heck Week), don't expect much from me. I will most likely not be my normal self. All of my attention will literally be taken up with fighting the physical and mental urges to smoke. I may cry, I may yell, I may ignore you. Worst of all, I may say very hurtful things to you, but I want you to know that this is the nicotine talking, not my heart. I WILL apologize afterwards, once the poison has left my body and my mind has cleared, but for the moment, please, PLEASE remember that I love you, and let it roll off your back.
   
   You need to know that when a smoker quits, the body and the mind will try almost anything to trick the user into taking another puff. I may rationalize that "now is not a good time". I may question the worth of my existence. I may talk about feeling a sense of emptiness and loss. My body may develop aches and pains. I may not be able to sleep. I may act like the pain I am experiencing is all your fault.
   
   But be aware that I am doing this for ME, not for you. In this one important way, I have to be selfish, so that I cannot give the nicotine a reason to put the blame on anyone else. So you must not feel responsible for my discomfort and depression. Even if you feel you can't stand to see me this way, whatever you do, do NOT tell me it's OK to smoke, just to stop the pain. You have to be strong when I am weak, so do not agree with any "junkie thinking" I may come up with.
   
   Here are 10 things you CAN do to help:
   
   Be there when I need a hug, but don't be hurt when I push you away.
   
   If I tell you to leave me alone, give me space, but don't go too far...I need to know you are near no matter what the nicotine says.
   
   Don't try to argue with me when I start to rationalize...silence is a more powerful message.
   
   Avoid the topic of cigarettes (because I'm trying to get them off my mind), unless I bring it up first.
   
   Do the best you can to act as if everything is normal. The more "normal" you act, the faster I will get there.
   
   Consciously avoid putting me into situations where I will be in the presence of smokers. This may mean avoiding favorite restaurants or bars, or hanging out with certain friends for awhile.
   
   Consciously avoid letting me get into stressful situations...if something stressful can be put off for a couple of weeks, please try to do so. If not, please try to cushion me.
   
   Help me avoid "trigger" situations...places or activities where I usually light up. (For example, don't plan long road trips for the next couple of weeks if I usually smoke in the car).
   
   Just keep telling me it will get better, that the emptiness and pain will fade, that you love me, and that this effort is worth it.
   
   Tell me I am strong. Tell me you are proud of me. But also, tell me you will be there no matter what I say or do.
   
   I just wanted to prepare you because the first two weeks are usually the worst, but be aware that it doesn't suddenly get better...it will be a gradual process. Also, please be aware that while I am doing this quit for me, you and those around me will benefit as well. I will be free from the shackles of needing to know where the closest cigarette store is. I will be free of the smell and stains. I will be free of an early death. And I will be free to spend more quality time with those I love.
   
   Thank you in advance for being strong enough to love me, and help me through this.
   Love, _______
   
  This letter has made a real difference in many of our Quits.  I hope it helps some of you new folks!
   
  xxxooo,   Sky
   
SkyGirl

Craves are Just Waves...

Posted by SkyGirl Apr 28, 2015

Remember...a crave is like a wave in the ocean.  

The urge to have a cigarette starts small, like a thought or a nagging feeling.  It will build.  It will peak.  Then it will ebb away.

This pattern is true...whether you have a cigarette or you do not have a cigarette.

If you start to give that urge your attention and give it some importance, it will be more difficult to get through it.

There are lots of ways to get through those few minutes of a crave.

The easiest way to simply mentally step outside of the feeling and observe it as if you are a third party watching it.  That takes nothing more than patience while you wait for the feeling to pass.

Another way to handle cravings is to put all of your attention on something else.  A taste of something different. A small household task.  A few minutes of exercise.  It doesn't matter what you do and taste in those few minutes.  It only matters that you turn your attention to something ELSE.  

The crave will pass before you know it.  And you will feel so powerful over nicotine when it does fade away.

Handle cravings one at a time.  They will come less often the longer you go without nicotine.  

And, one day, sometime down the road, you won't have any cravings at all.  It's amazing how that works....

xxxooo,   Sky

SkyGirl

The Five D's

Posted by SkyGirl Apr 20, 2015
   When your Addiction starts whispering to you...refer to this list of "The Five D's".  And do it BEFORE you allow the whisper to get any louder!
   
   DETERMINE:  Determine what's going on in your head.  Are you bored? Upset? Sad?  WHY am I thinking that smoking right now is a good idea? What do I think will be improved if I choose to smoke right now?
   
   DELAY:  Delay your response to your craving by making yourself take the time to actually imagine the ramifications of picking up a cigarette right now.  Don't light up right NOW.  Take a little time to consider the whole idea of lighting up at this point.  How many days of freedom will you be giving up?  How will you feel about yourself after you smoke right now?  Just a few minutes of delaying can be the difference between keeping your Quit or throwing away your Quit.
   
   DISTRACT:  Distract yourself from the sensation of a craving by doing something else for at least ten (10) minutes.  Do ANYTHING that will make your brain think about something other than the craving.  (This doesn't have to be calculus, for heaven's sake!  My favorite distraction was to bite into whole lemons.  My second favorite distraction was to clean my toilets.  No, I don't like cleaning toilets.  I HATE cleaning toilets.  But the smell of the toilet bowl cleaner and the act of scrubbing/flushing was enough to get me through a bad crave.  Find your own favorite distraction.)
   
   DISTANCE:  Distance yourself from temptation.  Remove yourself from your current situation.  At the least, CHANGE your current situation if you can't physically leave the scene of the craving.  (Now, the obvious thing is to NOT HAVE ANY CIGARETTES where you can get your paws on them.  And I'm always surprised at the number of EXers who keep a pack around "just in case".  In case WHAT? But that's an entirely different blog, I guess. Back to how to distance yourself from temptation...  Temptation comes in a lot of different forms for different people.  All you need to know in order to successfully distance yourself is to be able to recognize the danger signs in your thinking.  If you can do that, then you can either RUN AWAY ((that's figuratively for most of us! Hah!)) or immediately FLIP YOUR THINKING around so that you are at least emotionally distancing yourself from the idea of smoking.)
   
   DECIDE:  Make a conscious decision about what you are going to do.  Am I willing to take on the consequences that smoking right now will create?  Am I being honest with myself about how I will actually FEEL after I smoke right now?  Is smoking right now more important to me that the pride I feel about my x days of freedom? Am I willing to give up all that I have accomplished and gone through to get to where I am today?  (This is the Moment Of Truth in a craving.  You must THINK hard.  You must DECIDE if this is the action you really want to take.  Don't let the nicotine addiction make this decision for you!)
   
   Copy and print out "The Five D's". Keep it with you in your purse, wallet or pocket.  When you have a craving, take it out and work your way down these five steps.  Make yourself imagine what happens AFTER you give in to this craving.  
   
   Don't wallow in moments of craving.  ALWAYS take action of some kind!  There are lots of ways to work through moments of intense craving. It won't always be easy, but you can do it.  
   
   And think how proud of yourself you will be tomorrow when you look back on today and know that you took personal responsibility for keeping your Quit!  (Especially since you can blog about it and get lots of cool, encouraging, loving comments!!!) Congratulations!
   
   xxxooo,    Sky 
   
SkyGirl

Oh. Oh. OH!

Posted by SkyGirl Apr 17, 2015

Oh, you guys!   I can't believe this.  My Beloved and I have been together for almost 21 years.  We have talked, on and off, through the years, about getting married.  It just sort of got less important as the years went on.  But tonight, darned if that wonderful man didn't actually get down on his knee and propose!!  Of course I said YES.  So...at the ridiculous age of 59, I'm newly engaged!  I feel like I'm a kid!  Woo Hoo!