I remember that time when I first thought of quitting. And you know what really comes to mind? The first thought that entered my head was loneliness. This was before the fear that came later, but it somehow felt like my mind’s first reaction to the idea of quitting was sorrow. Sadness. The realization that should I go through with this, it’ll leave me empty and somehow alone.
Of course I barely noticed this right away because the fear of quitting began to set in and that fear was as confusing as the sorrow, even though it was probably based in the same emotion. Really, when I first decided to quit, nothing made sense. It was as if I’d stepped into a world that was the opposite of anything I’d ever dreamed of or wanted it to be..
This sorrow was something I knew I’d have to deal with sooner or later, but to be honest I never really dealt with it during my preparations for quitting because there just seemed to be so many other things that seemed so much more important to learn and after a while, I forgot about my original feelings of sorrow from back on those first days of thinking about quitting.
Sometimes it’s the things that you don’t prepare for that’ll get you. Thankfully it wasn’t the killer of my quit, but it did make some things harder to understand during those first weeks. And on those first days, the sorrow seemed to reappear. I never noticed this until I went through my journal a bit, but it was there.
I know I didn’t write about it much because in the beginning there were so many other things on my mind, but every time I got an urge, there seemed to be a feeling of sorrow attached to it. A memory of a life I wanted to leave and yet hadn’t quite slammed the door on yet. And somehow it translated to sadness. To that feeling of loss that I think most of us feel during those first days.
Thankfully in my case, I was able to acknowledge it and dismiss it, but I wondered about others who might find the same thing happening to them who can’t so easily dismiss it. I realized that if I had latched onto that sadness, it could’ve easily derailed my quit. Sadness is such a powerful emotion and it can motivate us to change things we don’t want to change in order to get rid of it.
As I continued on in my quit, I realized that this sorrow was the foundation of where so many of my negative thoughts originated back then. It was the foundation of the jealousy I would sometimes feel over those who could still smoke. It was the foundation of “the old friend” syndrome. It was the foundation of my thinking whenever I thought about the old life that I was now missing.
The reality is that as addicts, we built a world based on lies. Kind of a requirement of addiction because we’d never be able to keep doing it without lying to ourselves. We changed our entire belief system in order to stay addicted and we replaced what was once the foundation of our lives with those very lies. And because we convinced ourselves that the addiction was our true foundation, we lost sight of our original world.
We changed our very belief system in order to remain addicted. I know this is true because when my father died of smoking related throat and liver cancer and I watched him suffer both before and after surgery, I still kept smoking. Even when the reality of our addiction stares us right in the face, we find a way to avoid it in order to keep our belief system strong.
And so when we choose to quit and change our reality forever, we automatically feel a sense of loss. And when we realize that we have to leave one life in order to start another new and better one, we feel sorrow because we’re losing the world of addiction that has always somehow insulated us from the reality that is freedom. Like leaving our old, familiar and happy home for a new one.
And so, one day at a time, we have to change the foundation of almost everything. We have to find a new reaction to stress and loneliness. We have to understand that our old belief that smoking made us better and calmer drivers is no longer reality.
But in the end, we do find those new reactions. In the end we do find our old reality. The one that was there all along. Just buried under a ton of lies by our addicted minds.
One by one, we pull the tentacles of our addicted world out of us, creating little holes in the foundation of our addiction and with a little time and yes, belief in ourselves we can find the peace that we seek. We can find the reality that was there all along, waiting for us to find our way home.
It’s a tough journey for a lot of reasons. But in the end when we lose our addiction and see things as they really are, we realize that the only thing to really be sad about is that we didn’t see it sooner because in the end, freedom was always there . . . .
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!