August, 12. 2019. Like most others, I have tried to quit many times. (November 19, 2019 -- had to comment on that first sentence now with 103 days under my belt. I see the problem immediately! I said I "tried" to quit many times before. Of course they didn't work because I felt that I was just trying -- I wasn't committed and I didn't know about NOPE! It's enlightening to re-read my early posts and my first profile entries. OK, rant over.) This time it has to work and it will work.
My motivations before have, of course, centered on my health and my family. I have been a closet smoker all of my life -- not smoking in front of anyone except for a good friend ( who also smokes) and random strangers. I like to think it has been my secret, but I realize it probably has been obvious to some. Regardless, this is my quit. This time. I have all the same reasons plus one very specific one. Ten days ago I had oral surgery for a tooth extraction and bone graft in preparation for an implant. I thought I would just quit smoking for a few days, as suggested in all the post-op information I got, and then start again. Then, thankfully, I read up on this a little more and found out that the chances of a bone graft being successful -- of it even "taking" -- are significantly reduced if the person is a smoker. Nicotine messes with the bone grafting process. Well, after a couple thousand dollars for the oral surgery along with significant pain and a long healing process...why would I ever go through this is it isn't going to work?!
So now I had the same awesome reasons for quitting plus one more very real, practical reason. Clearly it was time. I realized this has to stop. Why would I be so foolish as to keep smoking when it's so clearly ruining my chances of having a successful dental outcome -- and ever having a "tooth"/implant? I guess I needed just one more reason. I feel terrible that my reasons before weren't "good enough" -- that my family and my health on a bigger picture view weren't sufficient to give up this addiction. But, whatever, I have to get past that and I have.
I'm writing this in Day 4 of my quit. I'll update as I go, but I will not go back on this promise to myself, my health, my life.
August 21, 2019 This is day 13 of my quit -- of my freedom from smoking. I don't say it's been easy or hard -- it's just been a day by day thing. I do feel positive that I can maintain this quit, but I'm not so naive as to think there won't be days, triggers, events that bring on a crave. It will probably be unexpected. But I have to prepare for them and remember NOPE - Not one puff ever! There's no going back this time for me. I won't jeopardize the success of my dental implant/bone graft. That's the immediate reason but it's a strong one that just might make the difference this time. I've ridded my body of nicotine -- did that in the first few days -- and that's an important key to this success. So, it truly is one day at a time from here on out. I must be diligent...but also allow myself to truly enjoy the life of a non-smoker. That has a really nice ring to it!
August 27, 2019 19 days. Sometimes it feels like 19 months...or like I quit yesterday. It's true that I just don't have the cravings I did at first. It's weird. At odd moments during the day I'll think, "OK, time to go to the patio and have a cigarette." Actually, I don't think all of that but it's the fleeting thought that makes me realize it's still a part of my routine. So new routines are needed and I'm working on them. I really don't think about it much throughout the day...and then there's this sniggling thought and I almost get out of my office chair and head downstairs. Almost. I do know that I'm spending a LOT of time on Quitnet. I still feel like I need that almost constant lifeline to the support network there. Mostly I read. I read what others are posting and comments people make on their posts. I especially like to read profiles. It's helpful to see how others have approached quitting. I also see how many times people have relapsed and that scares me a little. What if I relapse? What if I don't? Sometimes I feel guilty or maybe just a little naive in saying that my quit is going pretty well. Where's the angst? I have a bad day this past Sunday but Monday morning it was OK (and actually I think a large part of it was a new worry about my oral surgery that I couldn't address until Monday morning.) But, as they say, everyone's quit is different. And every day is a new pledge to not smoke, to keep the faith, to not have one puff ever. I think that may be the strongest message I'm getting from the community and what I'm reading in other places: that I can't have even one puff ever again. That the addiction keeps trying to tell me it's OK, one won't hurt, you can always just have one and then go back to not smoking. Sounds tempting. But it's when my monkey mind is most active that this confusion leads to wondering. Remember NOPE - not one puff ever. Ever. Ever. And the other thing that I find most helpful is thinking about non smoking as a pleasure. Not romanticizing smoking. Not thinking about not smoking as giving up something. That's just stupid! I'm not giving up anything by not smoking! I'm gaining so much each and every time. So be still, addicted brain/nicodemon, I'm not listening!
August 27...again From my Quit Journal, this is from the verywellmind website: "Stay in the present moment. Sounds simple, but it isn't for most of us. We live our lives looking back or ahead, ignoring the day we're experiencing right now. You will be able to cope with the ups and downs of recovery from nicotine addiction more easily if you develop the ability to shut down thoughts of missing smoking (looking back) or the fear of never smoking again (looking ahead). Keep it simple and deal with the day you have in front of you. It's where your power to change exists. Recovery is a gradual process. Make each day count. That's all you can do, and guess what? It's enough." (from https://www.verywellmind.com/nicotine-use-4157297)
September 6, 2019 I'm having a little talk with myself today. Already contemplating the weekend and in the midst of future worry I realized I'm almost planning to feel down this weekend! WTH! Let me step back. Weekends have almost always been a problem for me, especially when I have been single and after my daughter grew up and moved away (which she was supposed to do!). So, I filled the weekend with smoking. More trips to the patio steps. More trips to the nearest safe place to smoke. (Never have smoked in my home or car.) I filled up what I thought were empty hours with more smoking. But, of course, it didn't fill it up. It just made me want more smoking and less time to figure out why I was down on the weekend. So today I'm sitting here and in between work emails and such I'm thinking, "Oh dear, the weekend is almost here and it will be tough to get through without smoking!" OK, how stupid is this! The weekend isn't here yet and, besides, I am already setting myself up for a miserable weekend. I know from the past two weekends that they don't have to be miserable. Hence, the little talk this morning. My more rational brain (yes, I do have one) is giving my junkie brain a talking to. And writing it here helps, so thanks for listening! Now I need to: (1) make some plans for some fun activities this weekend -- or at least some of those home projects I know I want to get to but haven't, (2) allow myself some time to think about changing up my weekend thought processes and perspectives in general, and (3) reward myself a little for little victories that add up to no smoking. AND checking in here often for the wonderful support, words, humor, and stories.
September 8, 2019 - One month quit! "Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative or creation there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one would have believed would have come one's way. Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it." W.H. Murray The Scottish Himalaya Expedition -------------
October 1, 2019 (54 days quit) It's simple. I made a choice. I do not smoke. (Repeat) That's my instruction to myself, by the way. When I think this is too hard, when I give in to self pity (for what, after all??), when I navel gaze about this and that fleeting thought about smoking (and I do all these things)...I need to sing the chorus of my quit song: It's simple. I made a choice. I do not smoke. (Now, in four-part harmony...) It isn't always easy. I get frustrated and think I could just have a cigarette right now. Thankfully that thought is fleeting, but it's still there from time to time. There are nights when sleep eludes me and days when my head just hurts and I feel lonely and sad. And I remember it's really just been a couple of months -- not even, yet -- and tell myself to ease off a little on expectations (except for one, of course - NOPE.) But, mostly, I'm grateful. Grateful that I've made this choice and I've stuck to it and it's NOPE for me. Grateful for Quitnet that I found on the day of my quit (divine intervention, perhaps?) and for everyone here who is so supportive and encouraging and down to earth and honest and who I trust will kick my a## if I get stupid about smoking. And for you all who let me wax not-so-eloquently about whatever and whenever. I guess you all know how much it helps to be able to say this so someone -- to people who care -- rather than just to myself. So thank you!
So much of what I've not done in my life...or waited to do...has been because of fear. I think that's pretty common -- that fear holds us back. It clearly held me back from quitting smoking. And now, with 109 quit days under my belt, it still sits there like an irksome pest, reminding me that I'm not out of the woods yet. That fear can be good; helping me to understand that there isn't any such thing as just one. But the anticipation of something not going well (like a quit not sticking) can be overwhelming and take way too much of my time just worrying about it needlessly. The process of letting go and of embracing the changes, come what may, is important....
One thing I've learned about myself is that when I feel myself resisting some change in my life I need to ask myself what it is that I'm afraid of.
The fear is...; the truth is...
Fear that I'll fail at quitting; truth is I just might succeed
Fear that I'll miss smoking; truth is I might think I'm missing it at first but will soon realize I just enjoy the benefits more.
Fear that it will be painful/hard; truth is that it will be hard...at first...and will most likely be a roller coaster but I can arm myself with the resources, tools, and network to help
Fear that I'll lose my smoking friends; truth is that if they can't accept me as an ex-smoker, they aren't really my friends
Fear of boredom/anxiety/other states; truth is I can develop new things to do to replace smoking, anxiety can be a part of the quit process but it gets better -- and if it's severe or continues I can seek help
Today I'm focusing my gratitude list on a wonderful outcome at my oral surgeon visit this morning. Usually I wouldn't say any visit to an oral surgeon would elicit gratitude...but this one confirmed again the importance of my quit and a key reason for my quit. It is the result of 130 days of finally focusing on my health and, ultimately, my ability to take control and kick my addiction.
Today I found out that I now have a nice new healthy piece of bone I didn't have 130 days ago -- the bone graft after tooth extraction worked! It doesn't always, and chances are greatly reduced for smokers that an oral bone graft will be successful. I don't know if these 130 days were totally responsible for this working but I do know that it just may NOT have worked if I was still smoking! It certainly would not keep improving as a smoker.
Now the work continues -- an implant in January, then waiting for 4-5 months to see if that "takes" properly, then a crown, and I can once again chew on the right side of my mouth, I will be strengthening the bone I have in my mouth because I won't have a missing tooth, and my general overall oral health will improve. It already has.
I know that smoking brought me to the oral health problems I have today. No doubt about it. But I can't go back and change that. What I can change -- and have begun to change -- is what I do now. Keeping my quit is the only choice I have and it is the one I want -- every day. You all have been such an important part of that -- I'm humbled by your support -- every day.
So, today I'm especially grateful for my improving health and all of you!
I won't say there haven't been those moments when I wondered -- if only for a few seconds -- if I could maintain this. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to "Snap out of it! Of course you can do this!" - and chuckle thinking this isn't the hardest thing I've ever done, after all. (Well, it's up there but...) Then, it's some deep breaths, a quick walk around the block, knitting a few rows on a new project (still don't know what it is), reading some profiles in the Q-community...whatever works. Sometimes it's just sitting with the crave and thinking about it -- what is this crave about, what's really going on that a smoke wouldn't address? I sure don't have all the answers -- still new to this -- but I can tell you I feel good about this quit, the world smells SO much better, I know my health is improving, and I now have almost a growing amount of money in my quit jar! My advice for anyone quitting today? When the addiction seems impossible to overcome, remember that your decision to quit is the best decision you have ever made or ever will make. If you ever doubt that just keep coming back here to post what you’re going through and ask for help or read what others are talking about.