Thank you all for the messages of congratulations on my 7 years. It wasn't always easy, but it has been 100% worth it. I've always been honest with this group, sometimes in a way I'm not even honest with my own family, and I see no reason to stop that tradition now. This last 8 months or so has been so rough for me. I won't rehash everything because I know you guys already know. I never turned back to cigarettes. Somehow the nicotine neural pathways of addiction were shut down and I've never felt a desire to ruin my quit or make my stress worse by relapsing.
I am here to offer a word to the wise about those neural pathways though. Sometimes, when we think we've shut down one path of addiction, another one opens itself. In the last 8 months or so (although I've always been a pretty hard partier, I come from a long line of them) my drinking has taken a turn for the worse. Any time we'd get bad news about Dad, I'd turn to the bottle to numb those feelings of trauma and impending loss. I held it together all the way up until after he passed away and then within a few days of his funeral, I spiraled. I lied to my husband about my drinking, I came up with clever ways to obtain alcohol without him knowing about it, and I let myself believe that I was in control of it. I wasn't, and I've sought out help for this. I won't allow another substance to take 10 years of my life in a constant struggle to reassert control.
It's been 7 years since I quit smoking, but as a nicotine addict, please know that it's oh so easy to allow your addictive personality to turn to something else. Something just as, if not worse.
Luckily for me, thanks to friends and family, I already have an incredible support system in place. Because I did spiral so quickly, I was able to seek out help before I did any permanent damage to myself and my relationships with others, and somehow miraculously no damage to my career or legal troubles. Others aren't so lucky and I hold on to the thought that this could have turned out so much worse.
I hope I'm not judged too harshly for this. It was hard to admit this because everyone in my family has always joked that drinkers that quit are "weak." I think if I told any of my casual friends or co-workers that I had a drinking problem, they'd be astounded. I've always been somewhat of a perfectionist; an MBA, a good career, great performance reviews. Drinkers come in all walks of life. I'm not ashamed of it anymore because I know that I'm not weak. Weak would be staying in denial and hurting the people around me by valuing the alcohol more than I value them. I recognize that addiction is a disease, and I'm going to excise it just like I did with nicotine. I hope that you'll wish me luck, and I wish all of our newbies just quitting smoking the best of luck as well. My word of advice for the day is always be on guard. Against just one cigarette, against the ease in which you could slip into another habit, and against the possibility that you may be deluding yourself. Always be on guard.
Thank you all for your support through the years. Much love <3