Today marks ten years since I put out my last cigarette. Since that time, life’s been an incredible roller coaster of wonders and tragedy. You know, the basic thing we call life. But what’s amazing to me now is that for the last ten years I’ve lived such a different life then what I thought ‘i'd be living. An entirely different future than it could’ve been had I not made a choice a decade ago.
You see, back then I had a dream. A dream of freedom. A dream of a different and more healthy life. For so long, that’s exactly what it was. A dream. A little nugget in the back of my mind that blossomed into a beautiful quit. But it didn’t happen overnight for you see, I was terrified whenever I thought of taking that first step. As much as I longed for a perceived freedom, I just couldn’t get myself to believe that it could be a reality. I feared failure and to be honest, even though I thought often of this concept of being freed from a modified plant, I just couldn’t get myself to take that first step.
I remember this tormented time. This time when I thought of two different futures and what they could be like. What tormented me was that I believed that I really liked to smoke. That it somehow changed me into a more positive and more thoughtful person. That without it, I’d lose all of my confidence because after all, didn’t confidence come from the act of smoking? I realized that I was a classic addict. Giving myself to all of the chemicals that influenced every aspect of my life. I began to see my addiction as tentacles threaded throughout every inch of my being, and wondered if I’d ever be able to remove them all to find this thing called freedom. To be honest, at this time I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to remove them.
And then one day as I sat there smoking I somehow decided that I was going to quit and that this time it was going to work and the moment I had this thought and really believed that I might do it, I felt incredible fear. I was shaking and I recall even sweating the cold sweat of terror just from believing that I might do it.
I decided I needed a concrete step. Something to call my new beginning. I smoked another cigarette and then called the quit line in my state. When a very pleasant voice answered, I hung up on her! I grabbed another cigarette and smoked it and then with trembling hands, I dialed the quit line again. This time I stayed on the line and talked to one of the volunteers. We set up my free nicotine patches and they asked me to do one thing. They wanted me to pick one of the activities where I always smoked while doing said activity and do it without the cigarette.
I picked the most obvious to me. I ALWAYS smoked when driving. It was like the car wouldn’t even start till I had a cigarette lit. The first time I did start the car without a cigarette in my mouth, I was almost amazed that it worked. And it seemed easier then I thought it would be and not only that, I was kind of proud of myself that I could do this one simple thing without feeding my addiction.
This one thing taught me a lot. It taught me that I might actually be able to change my life for the better and more importantly, it taught me that I was going to need some help if I was ever going to succeed. I found a link to becomeAnEx and this one move turned out to be my salvation for you see, before one can succeed when it comes to addiction, one must first understand this thing called addiction, and how it interacts with our lives. Knowledge is power, especially to an addict.
I spent a long time learning the craft of quitting, and how the addit within interacted with the more rational side of me. I needed to understand what made my addiction tick before I could seriously consider removing this thing from me.
The more I studied my addiction, the more I realized that the impulses that it used to enslave me behaved very much like a screaming toddler. I was dealing with a child and as such I had to teach this child how to behave differently. Along with that, I tracked my cigarettes and would do things like delay my cigarette after an urge just to start teaching the child what we were about to do, and at the same time I knew I was creating more resolve to quit just by practicing and treating my addiction more like a toy rather than the foundation of my life that it had become.
And after six months of preparation, I finally felt ready to fight for my freedom. There was no fear within me at all when I put out my last cigarette. The next few weeks were of course hard but they were also weeks of discovery. One of the first things I learned the moment I put out that last cigarette was that they really didn’t help me to concentrate at all! This was one of the many deceptions that I’d told myself in order to justify my addiction.
One by one, we place those tentacles of addiction within us as we create our addictions and one by one, we must remove them. For most, this takes time but let me assure you that after enough of them are removed and as our minds begin to calm from the initial pain that in reality is fear of change, we start to see through that shroud of addiction. And on the other side of that shroud, we can see the shimmering light of freedom and with each passing day that shimmering light beckons to us. It calls us to join it because that’s really what we’re fighting for. Freedom from addiction.
For me, that freedom became the beacon that guided me through the worst of losing my addiction. I focussed on it rather than any discomfort I might be feeling. Sure, I had good days and bad days. We all do. But for the most part I found that if I could keep my mind focused on that beacon, then it became easier. Remembering what we’re gaining rather than dwelling on the perception of what we’re losing can take us a long way on the journey to freedom.
Now, I just wanted to mention the future. This is where freedom from addiction lies. To get there, I always compared the two possible futures that I might live. In both cases I viewed this future with my children. In one vision, I never quit and I saw myself in a wheelchair, barely able to breathe, trying to play with my grandchildren. Everything just seems dirtier and colorless. There were no smiles.
But when I compared it to a future of freedom, it was all smiles and light. This perception became another part of that beacon that guided me to my freedom. And now I’m living that freedom and you know why? Because of a choice I made ten years ago to face an enemy from within.
All I can say is that if you haven’t quit yet, then keep studying. Keep trying and never, ever give up. If you’re just starting out, remember that ten years ago that was me and like you, I was wondering if it would ever end. I was wondering if the screaming child of addiction would ever shut up. I was wondering at times if it was all worth it.
Now I can attest that it is all worth it. That the screaming child does at last learn and with that knowledge that child calms and with that, the endless voice of addiction becomes a whisper and as time goes by, a whisper that is never noticed or listened to again.
And to think, I’m living this incredible life now because of a choice I made ten years ago. I can’t wait to see you there, shouting from the mountain top that you’re truly free!!!
Go for it. Your future awaits you!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!