Remember back when you smoked, what the cigarette represented to you? For many years for me, it represented a kind of companion when I was alone. It was a comfort when I felt stressed. It was a reward for my actions. It was a cornerstone of my entire life.
By the time I quit, I never really thought about all of that. Rather, I was just acting on an impulse. You see, I’d gone beyond the time when I had to make excuses to continue with my actions. I was beyond believing anything could be different. I’d totally made peace with the slavery that I had created for myself. In other words, I was an addict.
I’ve often written of that aha moment when I finally faced what I was doing. That moment when I realized that I really wasn’t all that invincible. In a way, just getting to the realization of what my addiction was doing to me was hard. I’d built so many barriers within my own mind to see through them easily and like most, I dreaded the idea that life would be different. That I would have to change in order to truly be happy.
I do remember when the crack appeared in my addiction that I was thinking of my health, and that perhaps I should do something about it. I knew that my symptoms were all smoking related, and yet I just couldn’t get myself to care enough to actually quit.
And then I started thinking about my future. In my minds eye, I saw myself with my children and trying to interact with the grandchildren. And what got me was the look they were giving me. A look of pity or perhaps a little sadness that I’d never thought to improve my life. And everything looked dirty and colorless. I was suddenly thinking for the first time of what my future would look like, and I didn’t like that image at all.
Then I thought of that future after I quit and the first thing I noticed was that in my minds eye, everything seemed cleaner and the smiles both on my face and the face of my children was one of happiness and confidence. It became clear to me at that moment that what I did right now, in this moment will determine which future I would see. I realized that neither of these images were static and that I could choose whichever I wanted simply by deciding what I was going to do today.
I’m so glad I chose the cleaner path. Was it easy? Not so much at first. Was it worth it? It’s amazing how much it was worth it! I mean, nothing in life was the same as I’d perceived it as an addict. As an addict, we seem to mold our lives to what fits the addiction rather than living our lives as we actually want to live them. This is why the slavery of addiction is so powerful. It literally makes us see things differently, and at the same time, masks how we really want to see those things.
I think that’s a big part of why quitting can seem so overwhelming. Because as addicts, we changed the way we perceive our world. And the reality is that we can never change it back until we can see things differently. That’s where preparation comes in. A time to learn to see things as they really are, rather than through the eyes of an addict. A time to glimpse into the future and find strength in the desire for things to be different. If we cannot accept change, than we cannot quit. It just won’t happen.
Never believe that your world can’t be changed. It can, and the power to make that change lives inside each of us. Take the time to learn that you really do want change. Always look to see how wonderful the future will be and before long, you’ll be living that future that you started today!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!