I've been having a lot of whatever you call them after two years smokefree...not a craving, not an urge, not anything as horrible as physical withdrawal was, but I've been having more than I want to have...those "thoughts"....DANG! The addictive brain has been altered permanently...I can certainly vouch for that these days. I have always known that I was very emotionally addicted to cigs...every relapse was triggered by some emotional trauma (or perceived trauma). From the very beginning, I coped with my emotions with nicotine, that's actually why I started smoking...which meant I didn't really deal with my emotions at all. I learned how to do that over the past two years (with a LOT of help from my EX family) and here, now, after a relatively smooth ride through year two....here they come, those thoughts, those damn thoughts...and why, why are they coming NOW?
I'll tell you why. Couple reasons...First of all and it's really a head-shaker but after 70+ years on this earth I know myself a little bit and when things GET GOOD, I mean where there hasn't been some kind of crisis for a couple months (I used to tell myself that if my family didn't have a crisis for 3 months, I could quit smoking for good...LOL!!!! Well, that was a guarantee I could keep smoking back then!), I start looking over my shoulder and deep-down, start preparing for what is to come. My history tells me that if it's been good for a little while, it's not going to be good for very much longer.
My life is good right now. Finances have always been a huge factor in my life and it was really SCARY to quit my part-time incredibly stressful minimum wage job, but it got to the point where physically and mentally I just had to quit. Knew I wasn't going to make it through another holiday season of retail madness. So...I quit my job...Well, now I know that I "retired". Due to the Great Recession, I wasn't afforded the opportunity to voluntarily retire from a job and have been at loose ends since then. Caregiver, volunteer, preschool worker (where my leg got broken), on disability...blah, blah, blah, sad story, had to sell my home of 26 years where I poured all my creative energy, first escrow fell through, more sad story, blah, blah, blah, but I had my cigs to see me through and God knows I needed something. So...fast forward to today...Things are good. I've owned my little trailer for almost 5 years...hard to believe...never even did the touchup painting that needed to be done after I moved in because I had the fear that if I got everything "just so" I would lose this place like I lost my beloved "big house" after I finally had the funds to remodel the kitchen and finally get a dishwasher, etc. Amazing the wounds that experiences can burn into your brain, your heart, your soul...But if you smoke to deal with the pain, you never really get over it. THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED THE FIRST YEAR OF MY QUIT. So...I bore the pain, the pain of the past, the stress of the present, the worry about the future. It didn't kill me. I had the help of my friends here, and I didn't pick up. I moved on, I gained self-respect, and I put my "big girl panties on" (at 70, finally!) and started dealing with what I could and turning the rest over to GOD. Plain and simple. Simple but not easy.
So...I quit my job and couldn't face looking for another...Really, look for jobs on Craigslist and careerbuilder.com and send out my resume? Not this time. This time I'm gonna turn the whole darn thing over and just enjoy the present. Seriously. Got a little savings...I can always sell my "coach" and buy a car I can live in and get me another pitbull (I miss having a dog). And travel...miss that...always an option..there's ALWAYS an option. and as long as I felt HOPE and didn't feel HOPELESS (just realized that relapsing on cigs always made me feel so awfully HOPELESS), life was good. I had my health and with most people I know my age having so many health issues or already gone, oh my goodness, I had something to be grateful for every day. Every morning that I woke up. And I wasn't smoking to "deal" with life.
Oh, I'm so rambling...Blogging is journaling, right? And now that I have my laptop back (it wasn't in good shape for a couple months) I'm so happy just to type away...So...I turned my whole situation over to God. Left Barnes and Noble on Friday, Sept. 13th (Friday the 13th has been a lucky day for me), and it actually took me a long time to recover. I had been there a year and a half. My sister with retail experience told me she was really proud of me to have lasted that long. Had to deal with the fear of financial insecurity big time. But my faith never wavered and I just rested and prayed and stayed positive. Had a great holiday season. Relationships with both my daughters better than they have ever been since I can remember. Grandson got a darling rescue dog that I got to take care of the first week he was home while his family was at work and school. Get to pick my granddaughter up at school on Tuesdays and go to gymnastics with her. Have the energy to be more involved with my church (am going to sing with the Worship Team starting this month...big deal for me to sign up). The finances aren't great, but they're better than I predicted. I've committed to my tiny home and have a lot of projects planned...even ideas to make some $ (always loved being self-employed more than working for someone else...usually had a business AND a job with a paycheck at the same time, until I got divorced).
So..things are good...and I want to smoke. First reason? Because things are going well. My background has programmed me to be highly anxious when things go well. Why? Because one of these days the other shoe's gonna drop and the s*** is gonna hit the fan. Guaranteed. Happened ALL THE TIME growing up. And if you know anything about the cycle of abuse...well, the good times are great, but it's gonna get bad any day now...and that's what I dealt with in my marriage to my girls' dad. So...it's in my programming and I'm aware of it and it's kinda the pits but I can deal with it...if I feel that anxiety it's because THINGS ARE GOING WELL. IT DOESN"T MEAN THAT THINGS ARE GONNA TANK SOON...THAT'S THE PAST...NOT THE PRESENT, NOT THE FUTURE. Got it, Bonnie? Good! Good girl! No reason to smoke. YOU DON'T DO THAT ANYMORE!
OK, Now What? Oh yeah, hanging out with my best friend. The almost-chain smoker. Supporting her while she is in charge of all the material possessions at her family residence, since her mom has passed and her stepdad has been moved to assisted living due to Alzheimer's. Lots of family history here, not my story, but we are close friends (lived next door to each other for 24 years) for a reason and were smoking buddies for decades. Sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee and smoking tons of cigs for hours...so grateful for the friendship during those years we were both single moms raising our kids. So...now we're still friends but she still smokes and I don't. And she smokes a lot. Never tried to quit. And we're spending a lot of time together. At her mom's house. Emotional for her. I want to be supportive. I can still drink the coffee. But I don't smoke. But I'm getting those "feelings" as we sit at her mother's kitchen table, drinking coffee, she's showing me old photographs, etc. And I can't eat my sunflower seeds in the shells anymore because of my aging teeth. So...what do I do? Somehow at home I think of a straw. And I find a straw. A plastic straw just the right length. Think I must have kept it for my grandgirl. I put it to my lips and inhale and voila! Problem solved! THANK YOU, GOD! I put that straw in my purse and when I head up to my friend's mom's house to help her again I have my straw and I whip it out when we sit down again and she starts the chain-smoking routine (with the door open). Problem solved. Simple. Weird. Grateful. SMOKEFREE. New crutch: plastic straw the length of a cigarette. It works for me. After two years? Don't care. It works. And I can hang it from my mouth like all the hardcore smokers do but that I never did. In fact, got it in my mouth right now. Uh oh, a new addiction. Don't care. Maybe better start hoarding plastic straws before they become illegal.
Bonnie ~760 DOF (some of them hardwon)