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2018

The notorious slip, relapse, fall from grace... the classic answer, I'm too stressed, I don't know why, I live with a smoker, this is too hard. The honest answer is you allowed yourself to smoke. Somewhere, somehow you gave yourself that permission. You told yourself that just a couple will be fine. Complacency, the mother of all ends, has landed on your doorstep. What brought him a knocking on that door?

 

For many years, we were of the misconception that smoking can be cured. We can just simply quit and it will never be with us ever again. We will never be tempted again. Those are the people that don't understand why they relapsed. Why do I keep doing this? Some of them are of the belief that I'll just quit and it will be gone from my body in 2 weeks and I'll be just fine. Somehow someway the emotional aspect of smoking is taken out of the equation. The situational aspect is taken out of the equation.

 

Slowly as you progress along the quitting spectrum, you will have what some here call stinkin' thinkin'. After you get through the physical withdrawal, you have association urges. It could be the first spring, the first holiday, family gathering, some event in your life that happens in a cyclical pattern. It could simply be when children come home or are home from break when you're first quit or just a change of season. These are the times you need to be on the lookout for. These are the sneaky triggers that will prompt you back to smoking thoughts, association urges. Your brain associates smoking with a certain event because you've been doing that for the past how many years. That's all it knows.

 

I go back to the example of check writing. We wrote out a certain date for the past 12 months. Suddenly when January rolls around, you wake up half asleep yet making out the monthly bills and you automatically write out the previous year's date. Your brain has been trained to do that because you've been repetitively been doing that over and over. Apply smoking to that equation. The first year you are creating new memories or associations without smoking. You will find in your second year that those events that you were dreading the first year are so much easier in the second year. Why? Because you've created a different association, a memory with that event.

 

It doesn't have to even be an event. It could be simply dealing with your triggers. You need to train your brain to do something else other than grab for that cigarette. If you fail to do that, you'll be twirling around looking for that cigarette because you haven't taught yourself to do anything else. When you're angry, grab for a stress ball. You're frustrated, click a pen. You're feeling anxiety, rub a smooth rock between your fingers or massage your palm. But pick a different thing for each trigger you're having a problem dealing with. Train your brain to do something else other than grabbing for a cigarette.

 

A smoking thought hits you out of the blue, take a few seconds and see what it is that's triggering it. Close your eyes for a second, take a few slow deep breaths in and deep breaths out and think about what it is that's causing this anxiety. You have the answer. You just have to allow it to surface. We ran to the cigarette because it was easier to do that than to deal with whatever it was we were choosing not to deal with or have no clue how to deal with it. Take the time and find the answers from within yourself. Quitting smoking is like someone is handing a journal to you with all blank pages. There is no index. There is no table of contents. There's only little helpful tips along the way. The tips can be found on this site by using the magnifying glass (search) function. Type in your question by using keywords, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, fear, loathing, guilt. There's over 28,000 people on this site, there's bound to be someone writing about these topics. Use this site for what it has. If you work it, it will get you to where you want to be.

crazymama_Lori

My Stages of Growth

Posted by crazymama_Lori Mar 13, 2018

When I joined Ex back in 2015 was after I did approximately a year's worth of research. I wanted to understand smoking on the same level of alcoholism and drug addiction. I read up on how the brain interacted and reacted in the stage of withdrawal. Not pertaining to smoking, but just in general. What is it that makes you keep coming back. I thought of myself as a science experiment as time went on. What is it that makes me a smoker? Why is it a problem for me and not for others? What is it that it appeals to some and it repels others?

 

Well, as everyone knows, most smokers are born in adolescence. We use it as a status symbol or even peer acceptance or approval. We just thought it made us look cool. Some of us had parents that smoked or one of them. It's something we remember when we were children. Most memories are created by the senses when we can't form those memories into words. Babies cry when they're hungry or hurt. Smile when they see a familiar face. Laugh when amused. With some, senses is what drives us. In my case, my father smoked. I don't remember much about my childhood, but I distinctly remember that smell of that '65 station wagon with the stick on the column.

 

My father was my hero. I never wanted to disappoint Dad. I wanted to be just like him. He was my icon. He also was a very heavy drinker and smoker. He was a master plumber and always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was my first introduction to smoking. I don't think we wake up as smokers. Back in the '50s and '60s everyone smoked. I'm just using that as reference because that's a period I can relate to. Smoking was in movies, commercials, magazine and newspaper ads. It was an accepted and portrayed as a glamorous habit. People holding a cigarette holder, leaned back leisurely blowing out smoke. Brain associates relaxation with smoking, stress relieving with smoking. We learned it somewhere. Smokers are not simply born. We learned and used it for something in our lives.

 

I think the key to quitting is learning about yourself and why you pick up that cigarette. Your first six months to a year you really don't think about the reasons. You're just concentrating on staying quit, maintaining your quit. I know in my case my first year was a blur. I went through so many different emotions then. This wasn't right, that wasn't right, why was I in this relationship, why did I put up with this, that and the other thing. I never noticed them before, because I was too busy puffing my way through them, the difficult things, the hard things. I was just thinking the other day how fuzzy the first year was and what a difference this year is. I'm more calm. I'm not as anxious. I'm not as tightly wound as I once was.

 

I started at Ex reading and reading. I went through the steps in the My Quit Plan. Printed out my tracker tool on how I plan on separating from my triggers. I even added more on as time went on. There's just little things that pop up over the ensuing months that you never realized how much you puffed your way through them. I went back through the Elders' blogs and read how they evolved. Most are not active on this site any longer, but their blogs are still there. I read their struggles and read all the responses. It comforted me then to know that what I'm going through is normal, it's a stair step process.

 

I refer back to relapse prevention and read how at times people do struggle to maintain their quit, that this truly never goes away. I read also on how they accepted that and respected it. Know your foe and respect the beast. Embrace each day and learn from the bumps in the road. Use this site for everything it has. If you're having a rough day, pop over to Laughter is the Best Medicine or check out some groups that interest you and read some there. Reach out to members, people you feel comfortable with. We'll help you get there. All you have to do is take our hand...........