Good day EXer’s!!
I’ve got one more blog in me before a very busy week starts. There was a time when a busy week was just a little harder to plan for. Had to stock up on cigarettes because lord knows, I’d never want to run out of them in those days. And of course all the planning that goes with figuring out when the next cigarette will be available. I even remember how my work goal had nothing at all to do with work. No, my goals were all addiction based. When I would have my next cigarette was always the goal for me, once upon a time.
This is the life of an addict. Always working on the most important thing. Keeping the addiction fed and alive. Funny how our priorities can change when we’re addicted. Actually, it’s not funny at all!
When I chose to take my life back from addiction, I found no humor in it. Instead, I found fear. Fear of failure. Fear of discomfort. Fear of change. But mostly, I’d thought about quitting so many times in the past that my mind just didn’t believe that I could quit. Somehow, it made no sense to quit. And then the coughing started. Hours of it every morning. The hours of coughing as I smoked in the morning became a ritual. Soon my addicted mind was convinced that even this new ritual of removing toxins from my lungs by coughing for hours every morning wasn’t enough to get me to quit at first.
I say at first because in the end, that horrible cough was enough to convince me that I had to make a hard choice. I had to decide if my comfort was more important than my health. And I saw myself in the future, wearing my oxygen full time, and more importantly, I saw the looks that my children were giving me in that future, and in their eyes I could see a mixture of sadness, pity and yes anger that I could take my own life away from them.
And then I observed myself smokefree, frolicking with the grandkids and in that image there were so many smiles and there seemed to be so much peace and happiness. This was enough to convince me to call the quitline and seriously consider my quit. Was I scared? I was horrified. Did I know what I was afraid of? Yes. It was change.
And so I prepared for that change. During my preparation even as I still smoked, I prepared for those first hard days. Most of what I did is in my early blogs on my page but the bottom line is that when I quit, I was as ready as any neophyte could be. I pretty much understood what was going to happen, but I hadn’t yet lived the life of an addict who is losing a strong addiction.
This is when I learned that no matter how much we prepare, actually quitting is a new experience. And with any new experience comes a kind of fear of the unknown. What amazed me was that the first week wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d imagined it to be in my mind. The second week was actually harder for me I think, but over time as a few months passed, I treated the internal argument that we all must face as a learning experience.
And I started listening to what this nagging voice in my head was saying and you know what? Those secondary thoughts were completely confusing to me. They were actually incoherent, disassociated thoughts. Fragments of a world I had just left and yet these thoughts still had a kind of power over me.
This was because I gave these fragmented thoughts, or rather brain impulses a voice and not only that, my mind interpreted that voice as telling me to smoke. But when I really listened to that voice and what it was saying, those thoughts were completely confusing.
It’s kind of interesting as I reflect back over the years of my quit. Much of what I know now, I didn’t even notice during my quit but when I reflect back, I see it. Kind of like being on the outside looking in. Something I couldn’t do while I was in the middle of the fight.
I think that’s why I write these blogs. Because perhaps I’ve learned something in reflection that others may not be able to see as they fight the good fight.
The main thing to remember is that the effects of the addiction does end. And when it does, you might not even notice it. For me it was after a few years that I realized that I’d been truly free for quite some time. It’s just that as the changes of quitting an addiction became my normal life, I simply forgot I was fighting it and when that happened, I was free!!
Stay vigilant, remember your reasons for wanting to quit and without even realizing it, you too will be free and I’ll tell you, there’s no better feeling. The day you put out that last cigarette is the day that you change your life forever!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!