Tomorrow is 500 days – 6/8/17 Caution – another very long read, but I think worth it.
As I sit at my desk in my office watching as the sun goes down on another day, I often think how wonderful it is that I don't have the burden of smoking any longer. The ever aching need to light up and perform that motion for ten minutes only to light another one back up. Oh, such a chain smoker I was. I did most of my smoking when I was tired or extremely upset about something. I'd be like a steam engine puffing away thinking that I had absolutely no problem with this thing they call nicotine dependency, addiction, whatever word you want to use to describe it. I could quit at any time, I would tell the nonsmokers. It's no big deal.
Then I tried cold turkey a few times. Wow, that certainly was not my cup of tea. Those cravings came hard and they came fast. At times it felt as though I was drowning, grasping for that lifeline to just pull me up. You see, I gave those little white sticks all the power. They solved the day's problems, you know. They have that magic, you know. I say pffft to that today, only because I know better. Only because I took the time to figure out my triggers, find my own personal reasons why I smoked, what I used smoking to replace, why I kept thinking it was saving me from something when I had the ability to save myself. I took the time to find another way to replace that “something” that I thought I was missing, what I thought smoking solved. A lot of “I” in the above statement, but that's what quitting is, your own personalized journey and why it can be so frustrating at times.
I've often wondered why people went back to smoking after a substantial quit. To me a substantial quit is a year or more. You're moving into your second round of things. You're going through the same motions again. May not be the same scenarios or same exact circumstances, but the same motions. As humans, we have a tendency to have our own personal tendencies to deal with stress, traumatic events in our lives, but why was that white tube always your savior? Your cure all, end all solution to life's problems. You know what is in them or at least you should by now know how many chemicals and toxins are in them. You get dizzy when smoking because:
Nicotine and other compounds in cigarette smoke are stimulants and may cause a brief feeling of light-headedness. A main component of smoke is carbon monoxide. When inhaled, this gas binds to your red blood cells faster than oxygen, depriving your body of the oxygen it needs.
So knowing this, where is your justification for going back? Where does the magic power lie?
They say it's the dopamine fix. We're pleasure junkies. We're looking for the next joy jolt. After a month, all physical symptoms are gone. It's all psychological. Your brain, your memory center, can be your worst enemy. I remember back at about day 60 and then it showed up again around day 150 or so that I wanted to test drive just one cigarette. One cigarette isn't going to hurt me. I've been quit now for 2 to 5 months. I'd be good to go, no worries. Every single time those thoughts would pop in my mind early into my quit, I'd come to this site and go right to Relapse Prevention. I'd read the stories of members from back in the beginning of time and see they were thinking the exact same as I was. Strange how we all go through it but just at different times. There's some wonderful resources on this site. Use them. Search for them.
Now when those thoughts come upon me at 500 days, the first thought that comes to mind is now what is bothering you..... what is bringing up this thought of smoking that you feel you need to do to take care of something for you? I take a personal inventory, figure it out, take care of it, and go about my day. It doesn't take long. Usually I'm tired or hungry. Sometimes it's the simple change of seasons. It could be a reward for a task finally accomplished. If I'm getting frustrated or angry about something (one huge trigger for me that always brought me back to smoking), I sit back, take a few minutes to look at the problem objectively, find a solution and move on. Isn't that what nonsmokers do? Isn't that what most people do? That dependent behavior is gone. I'm in charge now.
When you first start the journey, the seas are rough. There's many storms that are brewing. You start with the physical and then move on to the psychological. The crashing waves are the physical. The occasional typhoons and hurricanes and sometimes tornadoes that rock your sea is the psychological. They always told me that after a year or so, everything seems to kind of level off, become calmer, peaceful, tranquil. I by far have more calmer seas now. I'm so grateful to have stuck with it. I'm glad I dug my heels in and for once my stubbornness has triumphed. This is one thing that I will not fail at. I will prove to all the naysayers that I will do this. I will not let a piece of paper with tobacco control me. I will be in control.
We all have mantras, nope, nope, nope. Develop your own, something you repeat to yourself when a craving hits or the thought of smoking pops in your head. If you need a stress ball, grab one. You need a hair tie or a rubberband on your wrist to snap, get one. Read as much as you can. Use the search tool on this site or Google things that you are curious about. Go on other sites, ask questions. Get your playbook ready. Develop a strategy. If this happens, I will ….......... instead of smoke. You don't need those things. You really don't. Once you have a few months under your belt, you will notice how much time you truly wasted smoking, how much money you spent, how many things you missed out on. Make a journal of what you're going through in the beginning. If you don't want to do it here, then make your personal journal at home.
Trust me, you'll be referring back to it from time to time. And you should be, that's what it's there for, because that reinforces your quit, reinforces your willpower, your strength. When I have weak moments from time to time, and I've noticed they come up around certain milestones in my life, anniversaries of some hurtful memories or a death of a loved one, I'll go back to my very early blogs and read them over again to see how much I've grown, that it's okay to feel pain, disappointment, hurt. That's part of living life, isn't it? The only difference for me is that I'm doing it as a former smoker, smoke free. So stick with it. You're going to discover so much about yourself. Give this gift to yourself.... You won't regret it !!!! Hopefully some of what I wrote resonated with some of you. Blessings to all.........