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...........