Day 116 - 3, 3, 3

Blog Post created by Lasttimeagain on Jan 9, 2019

Looking at my quit app, I saw that I have achieved 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Which adds up to 116 days. Thinking about the journey thus far, each of those milestones were pretty big. Getting to 3 days gave me a sense of having some momentum, 3 weeks was when I was feeling pretty awful but also had enough time that I felt a strong resolve to keep going. By 3 months, I was beginning to feel a little more like I have this now and I just need to keep going doing what I've been doing. Put them all together, and by now I'm starting to really feel the positive effects. These days I have been very much enjoying socializing with and meeting new people. This is something I was often not able to do because I would always be rushing out the door after every meeting or conference or what not. And before any meeting I would be rushing out to get one more smoke because I needed my fix. But this is when people typically socialize, network, bond and what not. But I wasn't able to do so because I was always rushing in at the last second or out as soon as the bell rang so-to - speak. So these days, I'm finding that I have many opportunities to talk with people more and meet more new people because A I'm physically present and B I'm psychologically present because I'm not wishing I could get out of there to get my fix. Moreover, I just feel that I'm more positive overall. When I used to smoke I would often complain about this or that while smoking. If it was with a friend it would be complaining about work and if it was by myself at night, I'd be complaining in my head about all sorts of things frequently. I'm not sure if others experience the same thing, but for me smoking was often this antisocial, pessimistic, cynical place where I would go emotionally. Perhaps it has something to do with when I started smoking in high school with the other smokers in the schoolyard. We'd huddle around, non conformists that we were, and critique everything, thinking we were cooler than everyone else while not actually participating in healthy activities. Smoking brings out this side of me that is not at all aligned with my values and beliefs. As a nonsmoker, I am finding that I am now able to start to bring all of my behaviors more into alignment with my values and feel greater self confidence and self respect. As a smoker how could I not feel a sense of shame and hypocrisy saying that I cared about health, that I valued using money wisely, that I valued family, that I valued building relationships with people, that I value honesty and transparency, when I was doing so many things that were not aligned by smoking? By smoking, I demonstrated not caring about health, I flagrantly lied, connived, and deceived so that I could smoke, wasted money that could have been used to provide for my loved ones, and avoided people and became antisocial so that I could smoke or avoid detection of my lie and feed the need. By not smoking I am freed to be the person I imagine myself to be and have a greater chance of becoming the person I aspire to be. The dubious thing about smoking is that it is just this little box with these little white sticks. And on the surface it is just something you do for a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there. However, they actually transform you. They consume you. They own you. And you don't even realize it's happening to you at the outset. And when you become a long term smoker, you probably go through many quit attempts. And you go through these cycles. Quit, relapse, quit, relapse. When you relapse, it's just one puff. Then, maybe a day or two later it's one cigarette. Then a couple of days later it's two, then three, then you buy a pack and it lasts you a few days. But you just keep slipping and slipping until you are using all the same tricks and habits you had before. Same lies, same tricks, same detours, same lighters, same brand, same stores, same sales clerks (hey where you been?), same everything. It's like, you know the script and you play the role and you're stuck in it again. And it takes months or even years to get the resolve back again to try to quit again. And when you do try to quit again, often it's the same damn thing too. Same withdrawal symptoms, same coping mechanisms such as chewing gum or whatever, same return to the gym, same ritual of throwing away smoking paraphernalia. So many of the same things. It's the alter-ego script. It's like this doctor jekyll Mr Hyde thing. At some point, though, you need to make the choice as to whether you're going to continue with the back and forth yoyoing until you die, just smoke and give up trying to quit, or finally keep the quit. This time, I'm really trying for the keeping of my quit and I'm determined to stay quit for life. The yoyoing is exhausting and I just hate the smoking version of me while I love the nonsmoker version of me. The thing that I can't quite put my finger on is why I ever go back to the junkie within when I hate him so much and love the nonsmoker version of me so much. Why? While I haven't gotten that worked out yet, I have found through much trial and error, what my triggers are and what I need to do to disarm them. Additionally, I'm finding that writing these reflections is a positive step too. In the past, I have always written reflections on my experiences when quitting  but I never shared those. This time I am sharing my reflections here, with others, with you all, and that is definitely more powerful. I have considered posting to whyquits Turkey ville Facebook page, but I'm not quite ready to go public with my quit. Why? Because I still kind of want to keep the secret that I ever smoked. And even while writing this  I know it is kind of absurd since so many people I know did know I smoked. I suppose that being public about it makes it real that I was ever foolish enough to be a smoker, an addict. But I always kept that secret from my young children and from my parents who probably suspected that I quit. I suppose that it means that I have to own up to the lies, deceit, hypocrisy, and foolishness. It is a confession to those I love of my sins and my weaknesses. It is strange because growing up catholic it was easy to tell the priest in the confessional and by proxy God what my sins were. But to have to say those to the faces of those you actually love or have transgressed against - now that is tough. Perhaps that is one of the problems with catholicism. You get to get absolution from God without having to own up to your sins to your victims and your fellow humanity. You don't need to go public with it. I'm getting it now. I'm going to have to come clean in order to really solidify my quit. And  I suppose that the one person I really need to be honest with, the one person whom I really need to confess my sin to is myself. The other is my children and my parents. They are the ones whom I've primarily kept my secret from. The other group are colleagues in my current place of employment. I don't feel that I really need to share this with them at this point. So, I'm feeling at this point that if I'm really going to solidify this quit  I'm going to have to be honest with my children and my parents about it. I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this with smoking.  I can imagine that other people have experienced these feelings with other addictions such as narcotics, prescription drugs,  alcohol, gambling. I'm also imagining some people who are 'in the closet' may have experienced similar feelings. It's funny because right now I'm feeling like I'm blowing this out of proportions. In my mind I'm thinking, yeah but smoking isn't as bad as those other addictions and the social stigmas and taboos against it aren't as strong as the adversity someone who comes out as LGBTQ would be. But then I hesitate. I have heard it's as addictive as heroin, I've spent more on smoking than many gamblers have lost in a casino, I've lied and deceived as much as any other addict. However  that's the thing about smoking. It's somehow more functional than other addictions. People don't typically go to the extremes they might go to in order to get other fixes. And it doesn't impair you like other drugs do. And the cost is just a little at a time. It's much more drawn out than other addictions. Rather than like the gambler who might lose the car or the rent in one shot,  the smoker spends the equivalent of a home over 30 or 40 years of smoking. Rather than missing work due to a late night binder, the smoker misses work due to catching a cold because they have a weakened immune system. The problems are all there, but their veiled. Smoking is much more dubious than other drugs and addictions because it takes away so much by slowly chipping away over a lifetime.