As I'm pulling out from my stall from picking up my pizza from Papa Murphy's (one of my newest addictions), I'm watching a lady pulling over in the parking lot frantically flicking her lighter. She's pulling harder and harder on that cigarette hoping that she can catch a flicker, a flame from somewhere. I'm thinking to myself, man, am I glad I don't do that anymore.
I remember well when I was going somewhere, could be anywhere really, the bank, the gas station, making sure I had my cigarettes with me and a lighter. They were like a tether ball strapped to my foot to keep me from drowning, I guess. I was always tied to the pack and the flame. Always compulsively checking to see where either one was. Anywhere I went, always checking to see where the smoking section was and where you could stand outside to smoke.
Back in July of 2010 when they passed the smoking ban here, I was the first to go on the very last day and smoked my head off at the local bar before it went into effect to complain loudly how they were taking my liberties away and how dare they tell me what I can and cannot do. Funny how we're doing the same thing over masks these days. What a difference 10 years makes, huh.
When I was physically going to a job every day, I have a very strong memory of clock watching. I'd chain smoke when I got up until I had to be physically present at work. Then I'd watch the clock until it was break time so I could go and smoke. Same routine at lunchtime. Rinse and repeat at another break time. The feeling of anxiousness in about 10 minutes after starting the day, ugh, I've got 2 more hours to go. Checking that clock every 10 minutes thinking this is taking forever. Finally the time arrived and I'm sprinting out the door to smoke only to start the process all over again.
I didn't care if it was windy, snowing, raining, didn't matter. I'd be out there flicking my Bic frantically to just get that one or two puffs. Feeling that consume my lungs, burning them inside. But my brain is thanking me once again for giving it a renewal of what it's been craving all this time. Give me that nicotine and I'll give you some dopamine. It's an insane trade-off that happens in this addiction or dependency or however you want to label it.
Understanding your personal habits and how you use smoking in your life, will help you understand better your personal quitting strategy. Once I started putting myself under a microscope, really looking at when I was most apt to light up, why I was lighting up and what I was feeling/doing at the time, helped me to understand the things I needed to change.
If you are having problems staying quit, examine why you went back to smoking every time you failed. What was the trigger for you? What is it that made you think that white stick would help you cope? Go back to the tracking tool Track Your Tobacco and Identify Your Triggers | BecomeAnEX and fill it out again and see where you went astray. I filled mine out 1,700 days or so ago and I still go back to it whenever I have intrusive thoughts of smoking. I go back to my blogs and things that I've bookmarked on the site to reinforce me.
Use the tools that have been given to you. Don't become that lady in the parking lot hunched over in her seat flicking away trying to get a spark to light her ball and chain. Become that woman that drove away thinking, man, I'm glad I don't do that anymore.